By: Maegan Castleton, Student Fellow – Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs
Since the beginning of 2020, the question of “How are you doing?” has been used frequently. However, I have noticed that amongst my other college-aged peers, it’s now normal to respond to that question with a plain, “not well, but what can you do” along with a shrug, some pessimism and acceptance. The open and raw dialogue I’ve had with my closest friends through a Zoom “looking glass” has been powerful, if not a level of chaotic displacement. College students share the equal, yet unique experience of displacement this past year. All of our lives have changed, much like everyone else, and we are facing the hard task of trying to adapt. Many of my peers had to graduate via a webcam, sitting alone in a cramped apartment. Some are at home states away trying to tell professors why they cannot attend an in person meeting. Others are going into their first year of being away from home, and are now in a delicate web of wanting to enjoy their new phase of life, with the harsh reality of a pandemic.
We understand there is no clear cut way in means of a solution, but I personally felt left in the dust as schedules were shifted last minute, and your fate was up to a professor and whether or not they could teach online. Many professors have a similar understanding, but the impacts of needing to adjust to this new way of learning has proven difficult.
I am extremely lucky. In the Spring of 2020 I lost my job as a Residential Advisor for the University of Utah. I was able to come back to my family home, where I have the support of my loved ones, and was able to adjust to this new life. I’ve had to learn what it means to be connected to a community. My friends are the family I’ve built over the years, and learning to maintain friendships over the digital divide has been difficult, but vital. If you ask me how I’m feeling, I would have to say; I’m angry, I’m sad, I’m lost, but I’m reaching out everyday. I’m reaching for answers, for solutions. I’m reaching for a future where my life feels like mine again. A life where I can connect once again and return to the things I miss most. I’m living my life one day at a time, because eventually the sun will rise and I will reach out and a hand will connect with mine.
That is how I see resilience. You take the pain that lays deep in your chest and instead of letting it fester you water it with hope. I take the hurt and turn it into tangible change. It guides me towards a routine of trying to be better than yesterday. It’s hard to be an optimist. It feels so easy to let the river take me to a sea of doubt and sadness. But at least for today, the river will not take me. That is resilience. I have taken my worst moments and folded them into my will and continue to learn what I can to lead for a more hopeful tomorrow.