A New Normal by Amanda Brooks

Journal Entry #2

A sign reading “THIS TOO SHALL PASS” hung on the side of the road in Memphis, TN. Communities are encouraging one another through random acts such as this one. April 1, 2020. (Photo by Amanda Brooks)

April 1, 2020

The concept of “home” has shifted in many ways in the past three weeks. 

 Before college, life around me remained pretty much the same. The same house. The same school. The same church. Not a lot ever really changed. 

 Chattanooga began to feel like home during my freshman year of college. I remember how weird it felt to call my dorm “home.” I remember feeling like I had betrayed Memphis somehow. Home had become different for the first time in 18 years. They say “home is where the heart is” but my heart had been split. It’s stayed that way ever since. 

 I traveled back to Chattanooga this weekend, the first time since all this began. As I packed up the remainder of my belongings, I began to wonder “where was home?” Was my heart still split between two places?

 Home no longer looks like going to Cookout with my friends at 1 A.M., but it also doesn’t look like going to the grocery store with my family after church on Sundays. Home suddenly feels like a concept that I no longer have a grasp on. Being kept out of one and holed up in another, there is no longer a warm, fuzzy feeling with “home.” 

 That warm, fuzzy feeling does come though. It comes when the neighbor running down the opposite side of the road gives me a smile. It comes when I get a random phone call from a friend. It comes when my whole family sits down to eat a home cooked meal together.

 Home isn’t my roommate’s empty closet or the annoyance that comes with every member of my family trying to navigate working in a confined space. Home is no longer Chattanooga or Memphis for me. It is the sense of community I feel when seeing a sign reading “THIS TOO SHALL PASS.” Home is people. If home really is where the heart is, then my home is definitely split in more than two pieces. 

 I, personally, can’t wait for the time when all the pieces of my heart are together again—the time when we are all back home. 


Journal Entry #1

Margo Zani, Kirbi Ward, Rachel Watt, and Amanda Brooks participate in a group Facetime call. Friends have been trying to find ways to connect without compromising the new social distance lifestyle. March 23, 2020. (Photo by Amanda Brooks)

I never thought my junior year at UTC would end this way. Instead of the study of my sorority house, I am writing this from my childhood bedroom in Memphis, TN, with the confidence that one day we’ll be able to help our kids with their History homework about the year 2020.

March 25, 2020

         In the new world of social distancing, “safer-at-home” orders, and self-quarantines, we are supposed to be safe from the novel coronavirus, at least physically. “Alone together” is a phrase that keeps getting posted on social media, but does it really make anyone feel less isolated?

         Are Facetimes with friends and Zoom classes with professors enough to keep college students from failing mentally and academically? For many, it may not be.

         Much to the annoyance of my friends, I express love through physical touch, meaning every time I hear “6 feet apart” a piece of me cringes. I never thought I would be deprived of a hug or holding hands. Although necessary for my physical health, it has affected my mental health. Every video chat is a reminder that I cannot be in the presence of people and every video class is a reminder that I do not have the same academic opportunities that I normally would. Something that is supposed to help us feel connected brings light to the reality of how far apart we are.

         It is equally important to protect our bodies and our minds. Ensuring the mental health of the national is vital to the reopening of business and the return to everyday life once all of this is over. This sudden pause to a usually fast paced society does not have to mean a pause in every aspect of our lives. In this fight against COVID-19, a well mind can go a long way.

Eventually, we will be able to hug, kiss, shake hands, and be near each other again. That is a day worth looking forward to, but until then, I will strive to learn contentment in the waiting. This pandemic, as much as it has taken, will not take our sanity.

For resources on how to combat anxiety and stress during this time, visit https://www.utc.edu/counseling-center/index.php or https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety.html.

Meet the Storyteller

Amanda Brooks

Amanda Brooks is a junior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga majoring in Communication with a minor in Theatre. She is a writer, photographer, and proficient public speaker. She is a great problem solver because of her work during the Disney College Program. She is passionate about highlighting stories of the community around her and the people within them. She can be contacted at bny637@mocs.utc.edu.

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