By Mikaela Calcagni
If you are like me, you have been spending more time scrolling through social media while self-quarantining. With that, I’ve seen many people posting messages about “making the most” out of this pandemic and the free time that comes with it. For those people who have picked up a new hobby or have finally started that novel they have wanted to write, that’s great – but it’s still perfectly normal to not feel like “making the most” out of a global pandemic.
As a college senior interning with REACH, this virus is impacting my life tremendously. Not only did I have to move back home suddenly and switch to online coursework, but I have also had to finish my internship virtually in a field where face-to-face connection is so important. I definitely did not see this as an end to my own senior year and internship. Through my work with REACH, I have been able to work with a group of students at Waltham High School called Peers Against Violence Educators (PAVE). I have seen the disappointment many of the seniors feel about not being able to experience typical high school things like senior prom, senior events, and graduation. I empathize with all of the high school seniors who won’t have those fun memories as I think about my own graduation and the uncertainty I feel about whether I will be able to experience a typical college graduation.
Moving to a virtual set-up has been an adjustment for me. It was often a struggle to find the motivation to do anything productive in those first couple of weeks. I often found myself asking how all of these people on social media are picking up new hobbies when I couldn’t even do the work that was already assigned. I started to think that I was thinking too “negatively” about the situation. I mean, I had all this free time now to pick up a new hobby, or finish a project, or to be creative, so I felt like I should just do it, everyone else was. I thought I was the only one not “making the most” out of the free-time afforded by the current situation, until I read an Instagram post a friend shared about not only recognizing those who are being productive, but also those who are too overwhelmed to feel as if they can be productive during this time. I realized that I wasn’t alone in that moment and that it was ok to be stressed instead of motivated. Everyone copes with stress differently – for some that may mean finding a new hobby or starting a new project, for others that may mean binge watching Netflix (or binge reading, which is my preference).
During my time at REACH, I learned about trauma defined as “a profound and meaningful loss of control over experience.” Right now, the whole world is going through a collective trauma brought on by this virus. No one knows what life will look like post-virus or when things will get back to normal and that’s stressful. Whether you are scared you will not be able to put food on the table, sad you will not get to finish school surrounded by friends, or happy you are able to spend time with family members – your emotions are valid. It’s hard to even know what to feel during this uncertain time. It’s important, now more than ever, to be kind to ourselves and to practice self-care and self-love.
As the school year comes to an end, we wanted to take the time to thank Mikaela for all that she has done throughout her time with REACH and wish her the best of luck with her future endeavors.