Waking Up at Home: How to Create New Meaning During This Pandemic

Getting up in the morning is the least favorite part of my day. I love my sleep, and I love my bed, so why in the world would I ever want to leave either behind and venture out into the cold unknown of whatever the day may bring? Everyone’s motivation for getting out of bed in the morning is a little different: the thought of breakfast is enough for some, while others need a task that requires their immediate attention or a place where they must show their face. My reason for getting out of bed in the morning has always been the expectant joy of being able to spend time with the people that I care about, and currently those are the people that I have chosen to do life with at Hope College. As I was going to bed about the third night into spring break, a question hit me: what do I have now to get up for in the morning? All my friends from Michigan are now out of reach, and my social life in my little Chicago suburb has been suffocated by the stay at home order that is now in place. And as spring break progressed, I laid in bed longer and longer every morning, willing my body to start the day despite a lack of meaning and purpose. 

Obviously, now that online classes have started up, there is more of a necessity to wake up in the morning, but the lack of joy and desire for the day remains. Words like depression and isolation loom over my head, threatening to make an appearance in the future if I cannot find a way to once again embrace joy in my everyday life. I would imagine that many of us are feeling this way, and are worried about the mental health and social repercussions of this forced separation in our own lives. Therefore, we must all embark on a quest for new meaning, maybe not in the general sense, but in the way we give our everyday lives meaning. 

I have always been someone who seeks out and enjoys learning, and so the idea came to me that perhaps this season of my life has a lot to teach me about myself and the world around me. Perhaps the joy of being able to learn unfettered by other distractions is a good reason to get up in the morning. I can search my own soul, and take some time to explore my own mind while also learning about how the world responds when things go wrong. Social distancing and stay at home orders create an incredible human experiment, and it would be silly to ignore such a situation ripe for learning about how we interact with one another when things take a turn for the worst. 

One area of interesting observation in this time is the media’s coverage of this situation. I have realized in watching the media circus that has ensued that as citizens of the world, we are at the mercy of those who control the newspapers and television stations. The only information we receive is what they choose to share with us, and that is a troubling thought. This has always been true, but when we are faced with a situation that poses danger to all of us, this fact becomes much more apparent. Our only link to our government and those with power is through the media. Who knows what they choose not to share with us?

Another thing that has become very apparent to me is the reality of having to give up what I want for the good of not just the people that I care about, but also everyone else in my community. Many of us at Hope College have had the ability to be selfish with no repercussions throughout our lives. However, selfishness can now be a matter of life and death. I am responsible not only for my own health, but also for the health of all of the people that I live with. I have to make all of my choices with them in mind or risk being the cause of their potential contraction of Coronavirus. I hope that this will teach me and the others of my generation that we cannot base our existence around selfish ambition, but that we must come together and think of each other for us all to thrive. 

As we continue into the unknown future, I would challenge all of you to continue to search for the meaning that you need to wake up in the morning. This situation is not ideal, but it does not have to be impossible, and I hope that you learn something about yourself and others in the process. Also, you are not alone. We are all in this together. 

Click here to view the Corona Chronicles StoryMap

Katie DeReus (‘22) is the Beyond section editor this semester. She is a political science major and is the class of 2024’s Nykerk music coach. Katie’s favorite parts about working at The Anchor are the relationships that she’s been able to build, and the opportunity to present the unique viewpoints of Hope students to the rest of the student body.

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