Two to fourteen days. That is all the virus is supposed to live for, but the inability to stop our fast pace capitalist society from going keeps the COVID-19 going. Small businesses hurting, stock market crashing, unemployment rate increasing, people social-distancing, colleges closing. Not just the nation, but the world is having to learn new ways to live their day to day lives. The digital age has taken a whole new level of meaning. Every person is affected by the coronavirus in different ways. Rising Rock, a group of students from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga seek to tell their stories on how this pandemic shapes their experience, and what this extraordinary moment in history looks like from their perspectives.
A New Normal: A Quarantine Commentary is a creative and documentative project by the students of Rising Rock. Step foot into the perspective of college students as they share what their world now looks like in this rapidly changing society because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Scroll to the bottom of this page to click on individual stories.
By clicking one of the names below, you’ll see a glimpse of how this global pandemic has now shaped each of our lives.
“As the days blur together and the heavy weight of isolation builds, it’s easy to dwell on the negative emotions brought out by the current situation: boredom, loneliness, depression. These emotions are certainly overwhelming at times but there’s also a brighter side to this too.
I’ve recently realized that the pandemic has also brought at least one positive outcome during this strange time; the opportunity to spend time with one of my favorite people in the world, my little sister Waverly.”
To continue viewing more of this post, visit A New Normal by Elian Richter.
After today, my college experience will be over. One last zoom meeting and a brief ten minute presentation are all that stand in front of me graduating from UTC. College has been the absolute best time of my life so far and I’m uncertain how to feel about leaving.
Saturday, April 11th was my youngest brother Eli’s birthday. He turned 18 which is a pretty significant birthday to be quarantined for. He spent most of his time inside trying to make the most of his special day. At one point, Eli’s friends drove by in their cars outside of our house and honked their horns as a way to celebrate his birthday from afar. It was really sweet but I couldn’t help but feel bad that my brother wasn’t allowed to appropriately celebrate his birthday in a “normal” way.
I thought about how radically different our eighteenth birthdays looked like. Almost three years ago I turned 18 and it happened to be the same day I was graduating from high school. My whole senior year, the thought of sharing my day of celebration with all 400 students of my graduating class bothered me. When the day actually arrived, it turned out to be one of the best birthdays I’d ever had. We were all celebrating something and got to be surrounded by so many people with lots of hugs and socializing. Now fast forwarding to April 11, 2020 Eli wasn’t even allowed to spend the day with his friends or even think about having a party if he wanted to because of COVID-19. Don’t get me wrong my family and I celebrated him as best as we could but this is just another example of how this pandemic has disrupted what we know to be normal.
Sunday, April 12, 2020
In the same weekend, millions across the world celebrated Easter on Sunday, April 12. Churches have not been allowed to gather for weeks now meaning they wouldn’t be able to celebrate one of the most significant days of the year for Christians in the typical way. This was the first time I haven’t gone to church for Easter in as long as I can remember, but that didn’t make the day any less important for me or the millions across the world. Instead of gathering at churches, many of my neighbors placed crosses in their yards or used chalk art as a way to celebrate.
These two celebrations were a bittersweet reminder that life is still moving forward day by day, and that there will be many more birthdays and holidays to come. Hopefully, sooner rather than later we can get back to celebrating the way we used to, but now with a new-found appreciation for being surrounded by friends and family.
Sunday, April 12, 2020
Journal Entry #3
Last week, I was in a meeting for my internship with The House, and my boss asked us to reflect over some questions concerning grief. I was confused. I hadn’t lost anyone so what was I grieving? But grief doesn’t always mean death, and quickly, I began to realize what I actually had lost over the last month. The rest of my spring semester, proximity of friendships, summer plans and much more.
Tuesday, April 7, 2020
I have done a decent job at not letting the craziness of this whole situation get the best of me. I have tried to control my emotions, but sometimes it’s hard to deal with so many feelings when they’re happening all at once. In a time where I have the space to process what I’m feeling, the task of discerning each different emotion that comes hand in hand with grief seems overwhelming. They say there are five stages in the grieving process. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Some days it feels like I am processing all stages at once. However, I have slowly begun to accept this pandemic for what it is.
I’d be lying if I said I haven’t had any hard days during the past month. Some days are productive and some days are lazy. Some days I’m motivated and others I procrastinate until the sun sets. Some days I feel really good, but lately a lot of days have felt heavy. I think it’s because i’m beginning to accept my losses.
However, in my acceptance these are the things that I still know to be true. I am healthy and safe. I have my family who hurts with me, but refuses to let me slip into a funk for too long. I have friends to return to in Chattanooga, and in the meantime phone calls and letters will have to be our best bet at staying in touch. I have simple pleasures that still bring me moments of peace like music, writing and reading. Lastly, I have faith. Faith that this pandemic will eventually end and the process of healing will soon begin for all.
I have not enjoyed the last few weeks of this new normal. Being separated from my family and friends seems to grow more difficult for me each day. I have spent the majority of the last few weeks stuck in a continuous loop of missing my loved ones, wishing I could go back to my hometown, and dwelling on the things I cannot change. Needless to say, my mindset has not been good.
As I sat thinking about what to write about this week, I drew a huge blank. Everything I considered or immediately came to my mind was either too depressing or too selfish-especially considering how my situation compares to others. Nothing was worthy enough for me to document.
I reached out to a few dear friends and explained my mindset and thoughts on it. They encouraged me to write it down anyways, step away, and come back with a fresh mindset. So I-sort of- tried it. I decided rather than focusing on all of the things I wish I could change right now and all that is wrong with the world, I should be focusing on the little, positive, good moments of each day.
In an effort to change my perspective here is a list of moments that have inspired me or brought me some joy during this quarantine and “new normal” season:
A beautiful bluebird laid eggs in our birdhouse and few weeks ago, and the eggs hatched last week. I captured the momma bird on her way to feed her babies.
Books. I have not been reading as much as I should be or could be. Books make me happy though, even if it is just stacking them up for a quick photo.
I have found a new love of sketching. When I was in high school, I started painting a little bit. It is something I have kept up with a little bit through the years, but I have never been very good at sketching or drawing. This has helped me to focus my mind on something I can control and create. It is a nice escape for a little bit.
Nearly every night my parents and I cook dinner and eat together while watching “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune.” One of my personal favorites is the amount of Marvel movie reruns we have managed to watch in the past few weeks. Also, Every Sunday morning we watch church together in efforts to keep some sort of our old routine the same, even though it is definitely very different.
The past month of being stuck at home has given me the opportunity to do whatever I want, for the most part. One particular night a few weeks ago, I decided to try being a little creative by doing a self portrait shoot and play around with the lighting in my bedroom.
I bought a new fish tank for my betta, Boyfriend-it’s a long story. My best friend bought him for me on Valentine’s Day last year, and he has survived nearly seven long distance car rides and living in a gallon sized bowl without a heater. I figured it was time to give him an upgrade .
These days are pretty lonely. Everyone is dealing with isolation of some form right now, I think. Over the last few weeks, I have tried to stay connected to the people I care about as much as I can. It can be difficult, but I am thankful for modern technology to make it feel like the people I love are not so far away. It has made this season a bit easier by being able to hear my little cousins voice every night and to see my best friend’s face via snapchat or FaceTime whenever I want.
Two of my sweet friends I met at UTC, Amanda and Emily, and I have sent each other personality quizzes, life updates via snapchat videos, instagram videos of silly games, etc to stay connect. One night, we all did multiple Buzzfeed quizzes to see which character we would be in various shows we watched growing up. I used put our faces on the characters we matched.
Lately I have been trying to look at light with a different perspective. How the moon illuminates my parents bedroom at night, or the way the sunset shines in my window each evening. Something about light reminds me about hope and comfort, like warm feeling of sitting in sunshine on a cool spring day.
Even though right now is different than what any of us have ever experience, I think we can all find hope and comfort knowing we are not alone. Millions of people are experiencing the same situation we are, even if it is in a different capacity.
From this day on, I am going to try to find hope and comfort knowing the sun will shine through my window tonight, and God has granted us another day to please him. I will look for joy and light in the smallest of acts and moments. I hope everyone reading this will try to do the same.