By Shannon Kitchens
The pandemic is the…Opposite of the gift that keeps on giving, whatever that might be. Personally, the thing I battled most on a day-to-day basis was the increase in stimuli. Am I six feet? Do I have the right mask? What are the numbers today? Is it safe to go to the grocery store or the gym or even be outside breathing air? On top of all of this, you are faced with death day after day after day. That feels particularly hard for me.
Furthermore, worrying about my family and their safety plagues my thoughts. The South (where my family resides) is handling the pandemic much differently than California – it is terrifying. I’m always fearing that I might receive bad news. That is challenging to live with on the day to day.
I loved switching to online learning! I find myself challenged and under a certain amount of pressure in the traditional classroom environment. Being on Zoom allowed me to relax a little bit and focus more on my learning. Sometimes, Zoom classes can get a little monotonous, but I have been lucky enough to mostly avoid that with creative and engaging professors. On the flip side, after a while, Zoom church became very challenging. My church community was a means of support at the beginning of the pandemic; however, it felt very difficult to be engaged after some time. I really missed and (still miss as we are in the throes of Omicron) being at church in person.
Other things that are getting me through being a student in a pandemic is a sense of routine, my fur baby Callie, my wonderful fiancé Florence, and lots of grace for myself! Being gentle with myself has been so important. One thing that the beginning of the pandemic gave to me was time. Online classes and being laid off from work for some time allowed me to take some much-needed time to learn about and care for myself. This space to grow is helping carry me through a pandemic that feels never-ending.
Further, having a job that I love and working with people that I adore has given me something to look forward to every single day. I am so lucky to have weathered this storm with some amazing humans. There’s a saying that “work is not work if you enjoy it” and that is how it has felt every day doing my job. It’s been a mental break to just “do” at work, which has created a sense of pre-pandemic normalcy for me even though I work retail, which is anything but normal right now. Lastly, and most important, my God time, whether planned or random, has been support and beauty in this time. God shows up as the Good News time and time again and that gives me hope as I look towards the future.