Embracing Change in the Wake of COVID-19

by Erica Rosenthal on June 23, 2020

Embracing Change in the Wake of COVID-19

by Erica Rosenthal on June 23, 2020

For a lot of us, change brings feelings of uncomfortability, anxiety, and distress. My original plan for this post was to write about embracing change in college, yet I find myself unable to do so without also including the change we have all had to embrace in the last few months. 2020 has provided me with endless challenges in both my personal and school life. 

Try something new! When I start feeling restless, I turn to baking to keep myself from getting stir crazy.

In the past three months I have done as much as I can to embrace positive change in my life. I ended my relationship with my partner of nearly two years. We live together, or at least we did before school switched to remote classes, and our lease wasn’t up until the end of July. I ended things the week before Valentine’s Day. It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make. I knew it was something I needed to do, but I was afraid of what change it would bring. Would my home life suddenly become toxic and uncomfortable? How would we make this work? I had a million thoughts running through my head. But at the end of the day, I knew I needed to do this for myself. I’m happy to say that my ex and I are still good friends and agree that it was the right decision for both of us. 

For months, I had been unhappy in this relationship but was afraid to end it because I was afraid of the ramifications it would bring. But with this change came more opportunities for me to grow and discover more things about myself. After a few weeks post breakup, I decided that I wanted to look into studying abroad. I ended up deciding to study abroad in Spring 2021. At this point, coronavirus was not at the forefront of my thoughts. I still had plans to go to Ireland for Preview over spring break. I was looking forward to making memories in a new and exciting place. 

After they announced that all Preview travel would be postponed to Spring 2021, I made the difficult decision to see if it was possible to study abroad in Fall 2020. I really wanted to go to Ireland, and since I had put so much work into my class, I didn’t want to throw away that opportunity if I didn’t have to. So I began scheduling meeting after meeting and ultimately decided to go to Scotland in the fall. I was so excited for what the semester abroad would teach me. This summer I had plans to work in one of the faculty-sponsored biology labs, and I am going to be an Orientation Leader. I was excited for the opportunities I had sought out to facilitate personal and professional growth this summer. 

By focusing on just eating 10 percent better, or working out 10 percent more, or getting 10 percent more work done each day, we discourage ourselves from being overwhelmed by the expectations we have for ourselves.

- Rikki Rosenthal

Fast forward to today, where the future is uncertain. I don’t know when or if we will be allowed on campus this summer. I don’t know if I’m going abroad in the fall. There is a lot I don’t know, but I feel at peace, which is unusual for me. I am normally plagued with anxiety when there is no plan in place. But one thing I have discovered is that the best thing we can do for ourselves, right now, is take life one day at a time. 

By doing this, we focus on what needs to be done each day, each hour, each minute. My therapist has been encouraging me to focus on the 10 percent. In this climate, it is impossible for us to commit to something to 100 percent of our abilities. So by focusing on just eating 10 percent better, or working out 10 percent more, or getting 10 percent more work done each day, we discourage ourselves from being overwhelmed by the expectations we have for ourselves. By providing ourselves with this kindness, we find that change isn’t actually that scary at all. 

Rikki Rosenthal with family

Spend time outside with people you love! My family has a weekly “happy hour” where we do snacks and drinks and check in with each other.