Three months ago, my biggest problem was trying to sleep in my freshman dorm room. One of my roommates always blasted her fan on high no matter how cold our room was. My other roommate FaceTimed her long distance boyfriend until four in the morning each day. I slept with a pillow over my head to protect my lips from getting chapped (due to the fan) and protect my ears from bleeding (due to the nauseatingly cheesy chatter). It was basically my own personal Hell.
I left for spring break excited to sleep in my warm, quiet childhood bedroom. I exchanged casual hugs and see you soons to my friends, thinking I’d see them again in a week.
The day after I returned home, the world changed: my school sent out an email saying undergraduates were no longer welcome back in the dorms and classes were going digital for the rest of the school year. I realized I was going to spend much longer away than I originally intended and, suddenly, I wanted more than anything to stay another night in my dorm room.
For me, freshman year of college was like a cliche coming-of-age indie movie. I was the insecure, nerdy protagonist who joined an improv team and learned to love herself, blah blah blah… I learned quintessential college lessons like whiskey makes you vomit and maybe you’re not as straight as you originally thought you were. Most of my days were spent doing quirky fashion montages, studying in hipster coffee shops, and laughing in slow motion.
Now, my movie is on pause – I’m living at home again and my new found sense of independence is gone. I take my classes online and I Skype my friends at night, but I can’t help to feel like the universe is robbing me of my college experience. This is the time in life I’m supposed to be with friends, making mistakes, and doing things reckless enough to lend to some self-discovery.
Surprisingly, I can’t sleep at night now. Without my roommate’s fan, my room is too hot and stuffy. Without the white noise of my other roommate’s pining prattle, my room is deafeningly silent. I find myself jolting awake in the middle of the night, overcome with how empty and quiet everything feels.
This experience taught me that life is truly unpredictable; it’s reminded me to be grateful for what I have today because none of ever knows what tomorrow may bring.
I wish I would have been more grateful for my freshman year while I was living it.
With that being said, I won’t have to learn this lesson twice. Some day in the future, I will be back at college, living my chaotic and cinematic life, and I won’t allow myself to get stuck thinking, “I wish I would have spent my quarantine time more productively. I wish I would have appreciated the break. I wish I would have valued the time with my family more.”
Although the circumstances may not be ideal, I refuse to stay blinded to what I can be thankful for.
It’s important to remain grateful for everything we have – even loud, cold dorm rooms – because you never know when they’ll be gone.