Tue. Sep 22nd, 2020

Pandemic facilitates interpersonal growth

Embracing the changing social environment can lead to a fulfilling change of pace

Quarantine: the dreaded word that marked the supposed slumber of society. Now that we are back at Wake Forest, it is easy to compare our lives and current situation to the college experience that we have pictured and lived in the past. We associate the classic college experience with large gatherings, random meetings and significant social growth, but these things may be limited and morphed by the necessary health guidelines in place to keep us all safe. It is so tempting to try and grab at anything that might help our lives resemble what might have been if COVID-19 had never surfaced in our homes. 

However, we should push back against this tendency and blind desire for the old sense of normalcy. When we romanticize and dwell on what we have had in the past, we ignore the new opportunities and areas for growth that this forced change of society might present us. Instead of relying on the normal college conventions of fun, I encourage the students of Wake Forest to explore other ways to feel connected with others and the college experience this semester. The new norm could end up being more personally enriching than we ever expected at the beginning of quarantine.  

The first step of beating the pandemic slump is to readjust your own expectations for what each day will look like. Take a step back from your emotions and recognize that we will still be able to see friends (as long as we wear face coverings, practice social distancing and focus on the safety regulations). Without large gatherings, it may even be possible for interpersonal relations to become even closer than before. We have this unique opportunity to meet with people one-on-one and forge connections with each other on a personal level. 

Second, choose your adventures wisely. With these smaller settings, I have found the great outdoors to be a fantastic source of joy and safe socialization. 

With these smaller settings, I have found the great outdoors to be a fantastic source of joy and safe socialization.”

To get you started, here are some easy ideas for these outdoor socializations. For the mornings, try waking up early and heading to the Reynolda Trails or Salem Lake. Both places are easily accessible for students and offer some sense of change or novelty as you leave the campus gates. With regard to meals, if you want to avoid the hub and chaos near the Pit outdoor seating for mealtime, bring your food to-go to your dorm patio with your roommates or suitemates. For later evening activities, find a picnic blanket and watch the sun set over Wait Chapel. All of these things are such simple solutions for safe time with friends. 

Another idea a friend from home recently shared with me is to write someone’s name on your calendar each week a month in advance. Whenever you get to that person’s day, set up a time to FaceTime or zoom them if they can’t meet in person. This can guarantee that you can also stay in touch with people from home and people who are not comfortable catching up in person. 

Additionally, if you are looking for some sort of safe group activity, Campus Recreation is also sponsoring outdoor fitness classes every day. Some classes include cardio dance, martial arts, yoga, core, cycle and pilates. Ask your roommates or suitemates to sign up with you for a change of pace during your day. Push yourself to try activities that might be out of your general repertoire. Especially with classes like martial arts or group dance, this may be a great source of conversation and bonding among your peers later. 

With all of this in mind, I believe that we all have the capacity to ensure a safe and joyous semester at Wake Forest. Reset your mindset to one more geared towards personal growth and be on the lookout for any opportunity for safe recreation. Be smart, make responsible choice, and protect yourself and others in all social endeavors this year.