Honestly, I was not planning to write my first piece forThe Broken Printer about COVID-19, but things have drastically changed and I’d like to share my resounding and overdue ‘what the actual fuck’ with all of you.
One day the EUC building was filled with people studying, and the next, completely empty. What almost seemed overnight, we were told that our exams would take place online. Less than four days later, we could not see our friends in person anymore. I’ve heard some people say they felt as if they were grieving because they have lost something close to them: a routine, a lifestyle, or a sense of self. As more and more events are being cancelled, it feels like our social life is slowly being taken away from us. So go on and mourn that ski trip, that spring break, or even your birthday.
But remember, if we have learned anything in college, it’s how to resolve and embrace new situations. So put your first year shoes on, new challenges will present themselves: new social situations, getting very, very close to those living with you and the opportunity to learn new things. So that being said, apply the skills you learned as a first year. You will need them.
The RIVM (Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment) has advised a 14-day period of self-isolation, for anyone who is at ‘risk’. This could be an opportunity to escape from social demands and do a complete reset, a detox if you will. For the local introverts amongst us, this is the opportunity to send the freeing text of ‘can’t make it tonight, corona :/’ and then just curl up on your couch and read a book.
For the rest of us, don’t worry, there might even be an upside to shying away from socialising. According to Thuyvy Nguyen (Durham University), spending some time by yourself can be good ‘if you are open to rejecting the idea that time by yourself is always a negative experience you are being forced into.’* See it as a gap year spend inside and truly find yourself. This might be the perfect period for reflection and your own personal project. I’d encourage everyone to use their time spent in self-isolation as an opportunity to finally finish all the things on your to-do list. Paint your walls, learn a new language or finally get to know your roommates better.
If you need any recommendations, The International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam (IDFA) has made 300 documentaries freely accessible. If you’re into podcasts: listen to Serial - which talks about journalism and court in murder cases - while you glance at the empty streets of Rotterdam. Learn how to bake your own bread. Listen to some new music. Write a letter for Amnesty International, you might save a live while boring yourself to death. So #Staythefuckhome, but keep in touch with your friends.
I guess what I am trying to say is: It will be OK. We will grow from this. That is, if we keep the distance. And one day, when applying for a new position, you will finally know how to answer the question: ‘What difficulties did you overcome?”.
Let’s take care of ourselves.
And let’s take care of each other,
*Nguyen, T. T., Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2018). Solitude as an Approach to Affective Self-Regulation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 44(1), 92–106.