Julia Maher ‘23
Since three promising vaccines have been approved by the FDA, the US—and college students—can expect a return back to normal life as soon as this summer. This has been long anticipated, especially among college students, whose lives have been uniquely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our lives have been put on hold for over a year, and we are all ready to live normally again and enjoy our college experience. Although we will have the opportunity to resume normal activities sooner than later, it will probably take a long time before everything actually starts to feel the same as before the pandemic.
Holy Cross students can expect to safely return back to campus this fall once the US reaches herd immunity, but it will take a longer amount of time for some people to adjust their habits and ways of thinking back to normal. Although not everyone has responded the same way to the pandemic and many have acted out rather recklessly, for those of us who have been rightly careful, it will be hard to adjust ourselves back to the way things were before. This is most likely due to the fact that the pandemic has been at least slightly traumatic for each person.
The pandemic has impacted us all psychologically and neurologically. According to a study done in December 2020 that examined the mental health of the general population during the pandemic, “Relatively high rates of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychological distress, and stress were reported in the general population during the COVID-19 pandemic in eight countries” and “common risk factors associated with mental distress during the COVID-19 pandemic include female gender, younger age group (≤40 years), presence of chronic/psychiatric illnesses, unemployment, student status, and frequent exposure to social media/news concerning COVID-19.” As this study points out, young students in the US, especially women with underlying mental illness, have disproportionately suffered from exacerbated mental health issues during the pandemic. These mental health effects will take a while to subside—a return to normal will not completely eradicate mental illness, but it probably will improve for most people.
It will take a while for several of us to feel comfortable hugging other people and going to indoor gatherings. This is completely okay, and it merely indicates our bodies’ responses to the stress of the pandemic. It is important that we all take our time going back to normal and not beat ourselves up for not being as laid back as other people. Just as each person had a different comfort level during the pandemic, the same will remain true after the virus’s transmission lowers significantly. We should all be kind and patient with ourselves.