Editor’s Note: This is a guest commentary. The opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial board.
“When you get to college…” is a sentiment that has constantly bombarded my mind at every waking moment of my life. It eerily reared its ugly head until I found this once faraway fantasy I had always dreamed about, abruptly becoming my not-so-distant reality as every seemingly insignificant moment of my academic career reached its pinnacle. This is it — the moment I had continuously strived for, where all my blood, sweat and tears could finally amount to something greater than myself. Where I can begin to make a name for myself as I navigate the endless twists and turns of college life and take my first hesitant steps into the real world.
But, what happens when I can’t? When the world came to a complete standstill, where we — as a global community — could not move past a seemingly unending, terrorizing unknown and could not see any light in the darkness that consumed our world with endless madness? Because that’s exactly what happened! Before my very eyes, I watched my freshman year fade into a long-forgotten memory as it became overshadowed by the plight of the pandemic. What I had so tirelessly strived for was viciously taken from my grasp and I was forced to make do with the shattered remains.
Due to family circumstances, I found myself spending the entirety of my freshman year exploring Ithaca College from the comfort of my own home, surrounded by the same seven people I had already spent the previous year quarantining with. Needless to say, it was not ideal. I continually lost the ability to function in a classroom environment, I saw a drastic change in my ability to focus and I never had a proper way to engage with my peers. To make matters worse, as other current sophomores began arriving on campus for the first time during the spring semester, I felt as if I was being left behind. How would I ever catch up? What more would I have to do in order to achieve my goals? And what exactly did that mean for my future?
However, as an unwavering optimist who refuses to allow the insufferable weight of the world to deter her spirit, I made the best out of the unfortunate circumstances. I found myself connecting with everyone and anyone who happened to have “IC” in their Instagram bio and joining clubs and organizations that interested me like IC show choir and IC Mixed, and it allowed me to continue pursuing my passions, even if it happened to be through a grainy Zoom screen. There, I was able to foster an Ithaca community of my own and excel in a way I never thought possible while being at home. Now that I’m actually here and am experiencing a college lifestyle for the very first time, everything feels surreal and overwhelming in the best way possible. I haphazardly stumble my way around campus, getting lost nearly every five minutes and I’m always taken aback by the beautiful, friendly faces I’ve come to know and love over a computer screen. Yet, there is something beautiful about all the cluttered chaos. I see great potential for this year and cannot wait to properly experience that greatness in real life!