The importance of family time, the joy of TV binge-watching, missing contact with friends in classes, worrying about the illness, learning how to sew, reading books or becoming aware of how important it is to wash your hands are just a few things that have occupied students’ minds in the weeks since spring break and the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.

Here are some of the thoughts and worries from the Lipscomb students in adjunct Tim Ghianni’s Practicum in Journalism. Chances are that fellow students will recognize themselves in these short essays:

The thought of being locked in your house without face to face contact with the outside world is terrifying, especially for someone with a go-getter personality.

That go-getter would be me. I am the type to try and fill every second of the day with productive tasks, oftentimes making more work for myself just to keep from what I would say is “wasted time.”

Throughout quarantine, I have re-learned the art of relaxing. I don’t remember the last time I was able to just sit and watch a movie or hang out with my family just because.

While I know this won’t last forever, there are several lessons I’ve learned that I plan to take with me out of quarantine.

Most of them are simple, but I’ve learned they are crucial for my mental health.

I plan to take more time to enjoy family and friends and just hang out. Life is too short to occupy each second with strenuous working and being “productive.”

I also plan to spend more time on the things I love, like photography and art. I have neglected the two during my time in college, but quarantine has helped me to gain some perspective and re-find my love for both.

I’ve been doing watercolor paintings on a daily basis and taking photos of my sister and nature a few times a week. I have been working out and playing tennis close to every day as well.

I plan to call my friends who live in other states more often because those friendships are important. It is easy to take the little things in life for granted when there’s so much going on and life is moving seemingly so fast.

This pandemic has put into perspective how short life really is. I’ve had family friends battling with COVID-19 and watched them struggling to recover, as well as watch some lose their lives. And while it might not be people who directly affected me, it shows how uncertain the next moments are and how nothing in life should be taken for granted.

  • Mckenzi Harris

Because of my unusual major-minor combination, I am constantly running around to make it to my various classes and commitments that are scattered all over campus.

Pre-coronavirus my schedule was constantly filled; if I had a day without any events or commitments, it was a miracle. I was tired and constantly having to give up events for work or homework. For the first time since I was 15, I have spent more than two weeks without school and/or a job.

The first couple of weeks were hard to figure out what to do with my newfound free time.

I went from one extreme of having a completely full schedule to the other extreme of having no structure.

At first, this seemed like a good idea, I had significantly less stress, and I was getting so much more sleep. I spent more time with my family than I had since senior year of high school.

But after just a few more days, I was bored out of my mind. So, no schedule was just as bad as a full schedule. Neither extreme was healthy, and as a result, finding balance has been a goal of mine over the last week.

Since school has restarted, at least on-line, it has given me something to do to fill the time. I have also found some hobbies like photography and piano that I can improve to bring some purpose and goals to my day.

But, I am also careful to leave time for exercise, hiking, games with the family, TV and anything else that de-stresses me. Finding balance brings peace and relieves stress. I have grown in totally unexpected ways due to this outbreak.

  • Erika Plunkett

This period of isolation has brought much time for self-reflection. Of course, there are many discoveries that are compelling enough, but there is one that has struck in a most significant way. It is a simple fact that a selfish life is a shabby one.

As I find myself cooped up in my house, day in and day out, it is very easy to fall victim to self-pity. It is easy to wonder, when will I get to go back to doing what I want?

There is no joy to be found in such a question. When this is the primary thought on my mind, I find myself, even more, stir crazy and miserable than before.

It is not just in quarantine that I believe I sometimes live this way. It is life in general, and it is a rather widespread problem. It is the reason that we huff and puff when we are stuck in a long line at the grocery store, or when the highway is busy and we all are bumper-to-bumper at a standstill.

It is so easy to get stuck in a cycle of selfishness and forget to look around at the people who are in the same situation. We are in a unique, amplified version of this life truth at the present moment, when nearly the entire world is feeling the same way that we are.

I don’t want to miss the opportunity to learn this lesson and apply it in my life. When we think of others as higher than ourselves, if we are able to transform our minds in that way (a reigning principle of the Bible, in fact) we will find our lives being filled with abundant empathy, friendship and above all, joy. No such joy will ever be found when our eyes are looking inward.

  • Abby Davis

During my time in quarantine, I have rediscovered my love for reading. My schedule can be so hectic during the school year, so I do not have time to read what I want to read. So far, I have read Normal People by Sally Rooney, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, and The Colorado Kid by Stephen King. I would recommend all of these reads except for The Woman in the Window. Overall, it was OK, but the beginning is painfully boring and long.

The quarantine has sparked a new habit I would like to start. Every night, before I go to bed, I am going to start reading at least a chapter of a book. One of my new year resolutions was to read two books a month. I think reading at least a chapter a night will be a tangible way to start getting closer to achieving that goal.

  • Kailey Schuyler

Most of us can agree that living through such a strange and unfamiliar time has had an impact on us all. For instance, I have discovered through this that I am much less of an introvert than I previously thought. I’ve learned that I’m more of an ambivert, meaning I need alone time to recharge, but I also crave being around people and am fairly comfortable in social situations. The one thing I miss the most during this pandemic is being around people.

Before the quarantine, I always needed to be sure to take time to myself, and I struggled to be around people for so long. Now, with access to friends being limited, I can confidently say that the first thing I’ll do once this quarantine is lifted is to be with friends.

As you can imagine, going a month without being around people has been driving me crazy. I have had to devote special attention to making virtual plans with friends, whether that be through phone calls or video chats. Spending time with friends is something I definitely took for granted before all of this. Once we’re allowed out again, I’ll be sure to cherish the time I spend with friends and make sure that I’m not taking advantage of the time I get to spend with them.

  • Ashley Bingham

I want to say that I have been trying to do new things, but I can’t.

Schoolwork and life have consumed any and all free time. Originally, I was excited for online classes to start and thought I could have an easy end to the semester. However, that was not the case. Now that Lipscomb has switched its classes to an online format, I feel like I have even less time.

There is also a significant increase in course work as professors change the formatting of their classes. Instead of class lectures, there are papers to write, assignments to complete, video recordings to watch. The list is endless. It’s stressful, to be frank and sometimes feels like busywork. I am a little envious of the underclassmen who have an opportunity to go back to regular classes in the fall. As a senior, this is my last semester here at Lipscomb, and having both classes and my graduation ceremony online feels incomplete. I find it humorous that I once dreaded going to class because it felt tedious or I was just mentally drained from the workload. Now, I catch myself wishing that I could be sitting in a classroom on campus instead of Zoom calls. There is just something about having a physical class on campus that the online classes lack.

With only a few days of classes and finals left, I look forward to the increased amount of free time. As to what I will do with it, I am hoping to finish up some house projects, write for my blog, and catch up on my art journal. Journaling has always been a source of stress relief, but it is time-consuming and currently won’t fit into my schedule. One thing I do want to learn is how to sew. It seems like an essential skill to know, and I’ve always had the desire to learn but kept using the excuse of “I am too busy.” I do a lot of work with costumes as a hobby and have managed to get by with basic hand stitching and the generosity of friends. I am hoping with the last bit of quarantine I will be able to learn enough to start making garments from scratch.

  • Ana Davis

The 2020 coronavirus outbreak and pandemic will be talked about for many years. The scary thought of you or someone in your family dying from a virus that didn’t seem to exist a couple of months ago is the reality for the citizens of America. I have both learned a lot about myself and realized the things I used to take for granted because of this pandemic.

Since being quarantined I have started to read books more. I have always preferred to be doing something else and before the world stopped it was easier to make up excuses why I didn’t read. Since I have started reading, I have found it very relaxing and learned that I actually enjoy it.

Something else I have started doing more of is yoga. My body has been feeling better than ever walking my dog up to five times a day and stretching it out after with some yoga. I have learned more ways to take care of myself and it has helped me a lot.

Another thing I have been doing a lot of is cooking. Although I am over the idea of cooking and having to clean it up because of how often I have to do it now, it has been a great learning experience for me and something I have grown confident in. Before this pandemic, I didn’t feel very experienced with my cooking and this quarantine has allowed me to get out of my comfort zone and try new things that I have been able to see have a successful outcome with.

Not only has this pandemic shown me the importance of washing your hands after touching a shopping cart or how masks can both prevent or be the reason for your sickness based on how you wear the mask, but it has allowed me to see that the little things I was doing in life prior to this outbreak were everything I was taking for granted.

I used to complain about my commute to Lipscomb for class. My commute was about 55 minutes without traffic, and if I was lucky there was no traffic. I used to complain about the long hours I spent in my car talking to my mom who lives 1,064 miles away or listening to a podcast to kill the time. I now get in the car and feel like a puppy dog with my head out the window who hasn’t been out of the house in months.

This pandemic has to lead to many deaths and has been awful in many ways but, it has also been a blessing in disguise to a lot of people. The next time I can go to HomeGoods just to walk through and look because I can or the next time I am able to sit down in a restaurant and enjoy a meal someone else prepared and cleaned up, I will stop and think about how grateful I am that I am able to be alive. The COVID-19 has made me realize that the little things in life really are the big things.

  • Bailey Burnett

The quarantine and social distancing guidelines that have resulted from COVID-19 haven’t been easy. A silver lining to the quarantine, however slim it may be, are lessons I have learned about myself, other people, and the world.

The first thing I have learned about myself is how much I take for granted. I consider myself an introvert and before this would have had no problem blowing off people and going to my room to play video games, read or do homework. I now realize how badly I need human interaction. I realize how important these friendships are and why it’s unhealthy to just keep myself in my room for hours on end. My friends are people who love me, challenge me, and sometimes need me. When this is all over, I hope to keep that perspective in mind. I need to be the person who is there for my friends just as much as they are there for me.

The second realization I have come to throughout this experience is the need for people to have good conversations so that real facts can be disseminated. It’s a complicated issue, but there are a lot of fake “facts” going around. We need to be careful of what we believe and research as much as we can. Part of this requires we pay attention to the news. It can’t just be one news source either. We need to research all angles of something to be able to serve other people as best we can. When we have decent enough research to go and talk to other people who may believe differently than we do, it has to be a discussion. We can’t just insult other people; they have feelings and their beliefs may be as perfectly valid as our own. That helps no one and only leads people further down the rabbit hole of their own biases and beliefs.

This is not so much something I learned as much as something I’m reminded of because of the quarantine, but I have such a respect for teachers. To go from a normal classroom teaching environment to having to teach online must have been incredibly stressful. However, all of my professors (and teachers and professors throughout the world, no doubt) made the transition pretty seamless, so much so that it seemed effortless. It’s far from an ideal situation, but I still feel like I’m learning close to the amount I’d be learning if I were in a classroom.

Finally, I’ve realized the general resilience of humans. Most people are willing to put their differences aside to help other people. Most people are willing to self-isolate so that we make it through this. People are doing whatever they can to help those that can’t self-isolate, especially the health care workers. It’s incredible to see the displays of support and solidarity with those health care workers and those that are suffering. It’s important to keep these people in mind as we go forward and try to end this crisis as quickly as possible.

  • Grant Ledgister

During these hard, unpredictable times I have learned a lot about myself. Recently I’ve been having a hard time trying to be hopeful that everything will get better soon. It’s been tough because I will hear good news, but then I will hear bad news.

My main concern is next semester because it will be my last year at Lipscomb in the IDEAL program. Being a part of Lumination Network has brought many opportunities for what I want to do in the future. I have learned how to be more creative especially during all of this free time. I have been thinking of ways I can keep up with my photography and social media skills at home. I have been making this or that games with photos I have taken in the past.

There are many things I am looking forward to in my final fall semester including the Dove Awards, taking more photos for the sporting events, and attending events in my social club. Lately, I have been learning more about the Bible and growing my faith. I have been reading the book of Mark and my friend has been helping me understand the text. I have been attending a weekly Bible study over Zoom with a friend who will be going out in the mission field in August. I have also been learning more about what she will be doing when she graduates from Lipscomb. I have been very grateful for my friends I have made this school year. I still have been in contact with them, which I am very grateful for.

Since the beginning of spring break, I have been at home with my family. One of my friends in Arizona was supposed to come during the break for his birthday, but things got canceled due to the virus. My family and I have been thinking of ways to keep ourselves occupied during this time. My sisters and I had bought the LEGO Hogwarts castle. We built the entire castle within 2½ days and watched most of the movies.

It kept us busy until Animal Crossing New Horizons came out on the switch. Animal Crossing has been fun to play because my siblings, family members and some friends of mine play as well. We can visit each other’s islands and help each other out. I have also been talking to my friends from school, they seem to be doing well. I’m hoping most of this will end before the fall semester because I miss being on campus and seeing my friends. I have also been talking to some of my family members who live in different states. Some of them are having to wear masks if they leave their houses. Overall quarantine life has not been too awful. I have noticed my family and I have gotten a lot closer. Before everything happened my family was scattered all over the place doing our own thing.

  • Riley Hoag

I never thought things would turn out the way they have over the last month. The day I left Nashville, to come home to Chicago for spring break, I never thought I wouldn’t return to school.

Before going home for spring break, in one of my classes, we were discussing how bad the coronavirus was. Also, how it would affect many things and students for the remainder of the school year. While I was at the airport on March 12, 2020, I received the email from Lipscomb, telling students that we would get an extra week of spring break. I immediately knew school would most likely resume online for the rest of the semester. Then following that week is when the email was sent out about the semester transitioning into online classes.

Transitioning to online classes full time plus having two jobs has not been easy in any way. Not just the course load, but being home and figuring out everything from here. Also, not being able to do anything except go to the grocery store. I love going on walks, during the year I don’t always have the time because of my schedule. Now that I’ve been home, I go on a walk every day with my sister and puppy. It’s nice to just feel the fresh air and do something that I enjoy, but don’t always have the time to do. We don’t stay outside for too long just because certain areas in my neighborhood are restricted. My sister and I will take a drive together, just to clear our heads and listen to some music. I have been struggling with not being able to see my grandparents during this time. It’s hard not to see your family because you realize every moment of life during this pandemic is precious.

When I came back home to Chicago, I found out my mother was diagnosed with cancer. This has been such a tough transition. When I first came home, I didn’t have school to worry about, so all of my attention was going to her. Still going to doctors’ appointments and getting her treatments when needed and just the struggles of trying to take care of someone who is sick during this epidemic are tough. It’s been so important in my household to make sure that everyone is mentally healthy. Making sure that everyone in my household stays healthy because my mother can’t get sick. Since I’ve been home, I, of course, have been spending a lot of time with my family. During the school year, I don’t have this opportunity because I am away from home, but now I have nothing but time. We take on different activities around the house, watch movies, play games, just normal family time.

Something that I always wanted to do during the school year, but never have the time to fully invest in is watching shows.  I have been binge-watching Netflix shows since I came home for spring break. I never really have the chance to catch up on TV shows or movies. This would count as a family activity because most of the time we’re watching these shows or movies together. It’s crazy to think about what life will be like after this pandemic is over, and what will be the world’s new normal. However, I have fully learned to live in the moment and appreciate life every day.

  • Taylor McKnight

As a student-athlete, I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with exercise. For so long, I was encouraged to see it as a means to an end, and I never took the time to enjoy the journey. Now, since gyms, tracks and weight rooms are universally closed, I’ve had to get creative with the way I keep fit. Since starting this lockdown, I’ve realized that I really enjoy other forms of exercise like trail hiking, yoga, and biking. When I’m able to do it at my own pace and with the freedom to choose my own resources, it has transitioned into something that I enjoy for fun. These types of activities get my blood flowing but don’t test me mentally in the same way an athletic practice would.

There are days when it is the only time I can leave my responsibilities and dedicate something completely to myself. It helps reinforce the idea that I am capable even when I don’t feel it. It also forces me to challenge my body to do things outside of getting competition ready and test the limits of my flexibility and endurance.

I am able to view the workouts I do less as tasks but as another form of self-care. I have even been able to get my family and friends involved over video chat, which has led to some really fun group yoga sessions. I’ve learned that I can take risks by exploring other methods of exercise and relish in the results for my personal wellbeing.

  • Tia Calvin

The recent COVID-19 lockdown has been interesting to say the least, but it hasn’t been all that bad for me.

I am a naturally introverted person who doesn’t mind staying inside when I have to, so I haven’t been all that affected in that sense.

However, one thing that I have learned is to be aware of my own hygiene. I am a clean person already, but this pandemic has taught me to be more frequent in washing my hands. For example, at my job, I handle other people’s money quite often. With the lockdown, I have become more accustomed to washing my hands after every customer interaction that involves handling money.

Another byproduct of becoming more paranoid about my hygiene has been with the food delivery services I have used at home.

Many food delivery services such as Uber Eats have recently added many lockdown-friendly options to their apps. One of the recent additions has been the leave-at-door option to limit contact between people, decreasing the chances of spreading the virus around from person to person.

  • Grant Bricker

A little over a month ago, we packed up a week’s worth of belongings in suitcases and left for spring break. The thought of an extended break due to the coronavirus seemed possible but was far from confirmed. The days since have been drastically surreal, almost more like something out of a novel or movie than real life. It’s been mind-blowing to see how fast the little things in life can disappear. When you’re living a life of isolation, it gives you a lot of time to think about the things that changed and what you miss.

So many things in life have felt guaranteed, you can always take a casual trip to Target or go get food from your favorite restaurant.

However, now many things are impossible or difficult. I miss the salmon burrito bowl from Baja Burrito and window shopping at Green Hills Mall. For that matter, I also miss having a class or studying in the student center.

The loss of these little things makes daily life blend together, there’s no difference between Monday or Saturday. It makes you deeply grateful for it all, I find myself longing for the things that I once complained about or dreaded.

I’m not sure that I’ll ever roll my eyes at an early morning class again. Losing the things that make you happy makes you immensely grateful for their existence. I don’t think I’ve ever had the time to just stop and take stock of these things. College life is always go-go-go, you rarely get the opportunity to slow down and think about what you really want and need.

I’d say that if anything, social isolation is a learning experience. It’s often very frustrating and lonely, but I am confident I will come out of it having learned to find the positives even when they are difficult to see.

  • Kathryn Farris
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