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April 20, 2020
illustration of window looking out at picture of makeshift hospital beds
Art by Kirsten Hemrich 

When I think of ellipses, I think of more to come. Or depending on its placement, sometimes it means there was something before. I’m not sure where my placement of ellipses goes in this piece—or what it represents. I’m not sure where my placement in this world is at the moment.

And for some reason I keep trying to force that knowledge upon myself. I keep trying to make myself sit down and write about my past four years at the University of Virginia, so I can lead you all to believe that I have some type of clue about where I’m going. Or that I even know there’s somewhere to go. I try to reminiscence about all the good times amongst all the bad. I try to think of all the friends and professors and strangers who made my experience what it was. All the wine and laughs and road trips and food… 

But the truth is: I don’t have the mental capacity to do that right now. With everything that’s been taken away because of the Covid-19 pandemic, I don’t think I’ll be in the right state of mind to think about any of it for a really long time. Let alone put together a cohesive sentiment explaining how I feel. 

A lot of things have been taken away from my colleagues and me. We missed out on the last meaningful goodbye we got to have with our friends, we missed out on our favorite professors confessing to us that we were in fact their favorite and sending us off, we missed out on ceremonies, and our last darties and our last order at Roots. We missed out on everything these four years have been leading up to by walking—or me running—across a lawn and never looking back.

All this to say, I’m glad I learned one really important lesson during my time at UVa. While immersed in a competitive culture—one UVa continuously perpetuates—often we are conditioned to:

“keep going”

“push through!!” 

“pick yourself up and try again!!!” 

I’m glad I learned that this mentality is not only complete bullshit, but potentially dangerous.. When circumstances are dire—and even when they are not—you by no means have to “keep going.” You are not a machine. You’re allowed to stop. You’re allowed to take a second to breathe. You’re allowed to not know. And if all of that results in failure—that’s allowed, too. Take for instance, in this moment, I have been given this platform: Iris. A platform that has been so loyal and encouraging to me for the past two years. A place where I feel safe and supported and uplifted. I know I can express myself—unfiltered, uncensored, unswayed—and I know you all would very much like to know what I have to say about my past, present, and future. And I will have something to say. And if you allow me, when the time is right, I’d love to be given this platform again to say it. But at this moment. For the time being. And for the (un)foreseeable future—all that comes to mind is:

 

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