It has been an exhausting week. It is stressful enough to be a student nearing final exams; it is a whole other ordeal to try to be focused on anything while COVID-19 cases increase and new restrictions are put in place.
Friedrich Hayek wrote in “The Road to Serfdom” (1944) that “We are ready to accept almost any explanation of the present crisis of our civilization except one: that the present state of the world may be the result of genuine error on our own part.”
Perhaps he’s right. Perhaps everything we did to try to make being on campus safe for everyone simply wasn’t enough, or we just didn’t prepare well enough.
There is no doubt that the intentions of the administration and the student body were in the right place, and that everything the students and faculty did to make being here as safe as possible prevented the situation from getting much worse, much sooner.
Nevertheless, we are now faced with increasingly difficult circumstances. While the choice between staying on campus through the end of the semester and finishing the semester at home was a more difficult one than I had anticipated, I am here for the long haul. So despite the unconventional holiday I had last week, I still have tried to think about what I’m thankful for — the things that make me want to stay here for as long as I can.
For the classes I am still attending in person, I am reminded of what would have been lost if we could only see each other as tiny boxes on a screen. Every time I pass a new friend on the stairs, I think about the connections I might have missed if we had only known each other through Instagram.
But something about eating every meal in plastic containers makes me miss a home-cooked dinner. Sitting six feet apart in every class makes me look forward to a hug from my parents and my best friends when I get home, and it has been far too long since the last time I pet my dog.
In spite of that, I am still excited to be here and making the most of it in any way I can. Hayek’s words are a sobering reminder that sometimes the search for something great leads us somewhere we didn’t expect. A year ago, I had no idea that the search for the best academic experience possible would come at the expense of so much. I still have no idea now what that search will look like next month, never mind next year.
But Hayek also wrote that the only thing to do when a good plan goes awry is to try again. So tell my dog that I miss her, and take a moment to think about the things you’re thankful for that could have made the decision difficult (or effortless, as the case may be) to stay on campus, and let’s try again.