Halted Forward Progress for a Student Expressing the Curse of a Generation

A journalism student at the University of Nevada, Reno, takes the pain he’s feeling to make an eloquent cry for his generation which has already gone through so much, and now faces an uncertain future of “new normals”.

A family loss, substance use, going back home and then the pandemic shutting everything down sent this student in a tailspin. He shares his thoughts in a candid, first person essay with the Reynolds Sandbox.

From Bad to Worse

College is hard enough as it is. Being away from home, learning a new environment, finding new friends and navigating the labyrinth that is the American college system. But when you toss in a global pandemic the likes of which has not been seen since the Spanish Flu epidemic of the early 20th century, then the difficulties become even more unbearable.

I was already struggling my way through a tough school year, and an incredibly bad spring semester when everything hit the fan. Truth be told, quarantine didn’t have much impact on my daily life as I was already an isolated individual. I never wanted to go out, made minimal efforts to make friends, and just floated through the days using various substances to cloud my mind and distract from the pain I felt from just existing.

In February, as the first murmurs of COVID-19 started reaching the United States, I was so consumed in my own self-depreciating lifestyle that I couldn’t be bothered to learn about the newest virus devastating the human race.

In early March came the straw that broke the camel’s back. My grandfather, whom I was very close to, passed away. I was 500 miles away from home and had hardly seen him in the last two years since I made the move to Reno. I thought I was prepared for when that day would come, but when I got the call from my brother, I broke.

In the ensuing weeks, I moved back home to Southern California. I left my roommates, my only two friends in the world, and came back to a house that no longer felt like my own.

The University of Nevada, Reno, campus, usually full of life, has gone eerily silent.

Another Beast Looming

These changes would have prompted me to move back home anyway, as my mental state was far too fragile to continue being on my own up in Reno. But there was another beast looming: CoronaVirus.

The entire reason I chose the University of Nevada, Reno, was for the exceptional journalism program. This semester was to be the best one yet, as I was in classes where I would get hands-on experience with all the equipment and programs that I would be using in my future career as a journalist. However, with the shutdown of campus and all class operations moving online, I was denied my opportunity to learn what I had been looking forward to for months.

The transition to online classes has been a nightmare. Without a classroom environment, the students, professors, and external motivation to get things done, I slipped back into my old habits. I stay up far too late, I have no motivation to get any work done, and without having to show up to class, and look my professors in the eye, I lost my last bit of external motivation I had left.

Sure, being back home is alright I guess. I no longer have to do my own grocery shopping or worry about what I’m making for dinner. I can stay in the house all day and be certain that I will be cared for.

But I lost my spirit, my sense of individuality, the person that I became when I was allowed to be who I was without trying to fit into a mold for the sake of my family.

Oftentimes I feel like a bum, no job, no internship, failing my classes, just eating and drinking away my problems while I lie to my parents about what’s really going on. I never truly enjoyed school, and losing the human interaction due to the global pandemic has all but destroyed any motivation I had to fight through the bad times.

It seems like most of our lives, my classmates and I, have been spent living through tragedies: 9/11, the Iraq war, the recession of 2007, collapse of the housing market, a period of time in which school shootings were “the norm”, and now we are again in the midst of an economic collapse coupled with a global pandemic.

I’m graduating college, and trying to break into a career field that is reviled by most of the country, trying to get a job when unemployment is the highest it has been since the Great Depression, trying to be free of my isolation when the government is forcing the American populace to stay inside for our own good.

COVID-19 has made life difficult for everyone, and my own issues are nothing compared to most average people in this once great country. I feel shallow and weak to complain about what troubles me, but I’m uncertain of what to do to change my situation.

The global pandemic has not just been a difficult situation, it has completely halted any and all forward progress I have been making towards the rest of my life. For now, it seems we are all in this mess together, and all we can do is sit and wait.

Wait for nothing short of a miracle.

1st Person Essay shared with the Reynolds Sandbox

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