For What’s Next

“Sometimes our lives have to be completely shaken up, changed and rearranged to relocate us to the place we’re meant to be.” — Adrianna Hemenway

For the last few months I have written, backspaced and rewritten hundreds of words. The first time that I ever shared my writing on a public platform, I laid out a notebook full of ideas on my dorm room floor during my first week of college and just began writing. Three and a half years ago everything in my life was new, fresh and exciting and there were new people to meet everywhere, opportunities being handed out just as much as the free “Welcome Week” t-shirts and for the first time in my life, I was as independent as I could be. Three and a half years later, I have made friendships that will last a lifetime, I joined a sorority and lived in a house with some incredible women and I even spent four months traveling the world, and crazily enough, back in December, I put on my cap and gown, moved my tassle to the left and I graduated from Indiana University.

There’s a big change of pace being a college graduate, especially one who graduates a semester early. I went from being enrolled in twenty-one credit hours, working on the weekends and trying to maintain a healthy mind, emotional state and social life to working five nights a week and loosely planning out my next steps. To be honest, the first two months after graduating were the two most discouraging months of my life. I constantly felt the need to be doing more, to be putting in more effort, to be putting in more hours, to be writing, to be sending in more law school applications, to go home more, to catch up with friends more, just to do more, but I just felt detached from it all. I started writing this post at the end of February in hopes of getting my creative brain running again and start getting out of my funk. I planned for it to be about what was next for me, a potentially pre-law student who is also applying for jobs just in case, who is a part-time server and who is still living in Bloomington so that I can still be with all of my friends and enjoy the last few months that we have together.

Then it took me another month and a half to finish writing the post because, I mean, honestly? What the hell is going on? I left at the end of February for my sister’s wedding in Colorado, from there I traveled to North Carolina for a week and then after five days back in Bloomington, I hopped in my car and drove to Florida to visit my dad. When I came back to Bloomington a week later, not a single car was parked on the downtown square. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were flooded with news, memes and updates about COVID-19. Schools around the country were moved online for the rest of the semester and my friends who went home for spring break were staying there for an indefinite amount of time. Little 500 was cancelled for the first time in history, college basketball was over and all the restaurants, bars and shops were closed. I came back to Bloomington with the knowledge that I didn’t have a job anymore and a recommendation that I should file for unemployment. My best friend from high school is only on her first year out of college as a nurse and she’s been rotated onto a designated COVID unit. And I thought it was just the first two months of this year that were discouraging. 

I struggle with the potential idea that my goodbye to my best friend since the first night of college consisted of a quick hug outside of the Kilroy’s upstairs bathroom and that the last time all of my favorite people were all together was at a random $2 where we all went home early because we were tired. I struggle with the fact that the AXO bike team won’t be racing in Little 500 and that our seniors will actually have their voices next weekend. I struggle with the thought that there are actually people that I will probably never see again because we will all move on after all of this is over instead of returning back to Bloomington for yet another Welcome Week. I know subconsciously that these may be selfish struggles, that there are people suffering rather than struggling because of how this virus has impacted them. My sorority sister lost her dad due to COVID-19 complications and had to say goodbye via a FaceTime call from his doctor, my nursing friends are going through the unimaginable and there are people who lost their jobs who have families to support. I acknowledge this and as much as I try to empathize with this, I know that there’s no particular way for a twenty-something year old to handle a worldwide pandemic. I respect the people working day in and day out for the health and safety of our country and I respect the people who get out of bed everyday to clean their house, go on a walk or just catch up on some much needed self care. I am proud of the seniors, both in high school and college, who are finding ways to deal with missing out on some of their most looked-forward to moments. I think that it is brave that we are all attempting to continue our lives, even when our normalcy has been pulled out from under us.

Three and a half years ago, everything was new, fresh and exciting and three and a half years later everything is new, bitter and up in the air. The initial question of what is next for me, is now a question for a majority of the people that I know. I have applied to internships that have now been cancelled due to the current status of our economy, I have filed for unemployment that will only supplement a third of what I was averaging per week and I will stay in Bloomington for the summer, patiently waiting to return to my job and greedily hoping that people will come back to Bloomington. I have been accepted to a law school 400 miles away, but am waitlisted to my top choice, just fifty miles away. So, I sit and wait. We all sit and wait for things to return to normal, to see where our lives go from here and to see what is next for all of us. I will continue to get up every day and do small tasks around my apartment, continue doing projects for my mom’s business that is holding on in our small town and I will continue to be positive about what is next despite all of the unknown.

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