Sept 25, 2020 | By Mariel Zech | Photo by Anil Jergens

I sat across from my friend Emma McDermott ’23 on a chairlift. We were staying at our friend’s ski house in Maryland for a couple weeks to take our Block 1 classes together. It had become a welcome semblance of normalcy, with four friends under the same roof again reminiscing about our memories at Colorado College.

We were giving ourselves time to bounce complaints off each other while dangling our feet and looking at the hill beyond us that was trying to pass as a mountain.

“It sucks that we don’t get to eat at Rasties this year and go table hopping, and by the time we’re juniors most people in our class won’t be eating there as much.”

”There were a bunch of people who I was friendly acquaintances with, and I wanted to reach out to them this year. By the time we go back, so much time will have passed I feel like it will be out of the blue.”

“There’s something so much more awkward when no one answers the professor’s question in a Zoom class than when it happens in person.”

“We were just getting into the swing of being independent, and now that I’ve been home for so long, I feel like I’m regressing.”

We went back and forth like this for a long time, and by the time we couldn’t think of anything else to complain about, a burden had been lifted from our shoulders.

This is a truly crazy time, and it’s a breath of fresh air to be able to work through the complexities of it with someone. We are all affected by the pandemic in some capacity, and when you’re really able to connect with another human being in the midst of the confusion, that’s when you feel grounded enough to truly believe that everything will be OK.

We found that by voicing our complaints and clearing up what had been bothering us, we were able to open our eyes to some silver linings of the circumstances. McDermott’s family adopted a Corgi puppy they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, while I got to spend lots of time with my Shih Tzu.

I read some books for fun, which I hadn’t done in years. Although I watched an absurd amount of television, at least I did so with my sister and that was a bonding experience for us, whether we were way too captivated by a reality show like “Too Hot to Handle,” or having serious conversations about the racial tensions and societal commentaries in “Little Fires Everywhere.”

If we can leave this experience with a renewed appreciation for everyday life, and a strengthened sense of gratitude for the family members and friends we turned to in this crisis, then that alone is valuable. We can remain mindful that we don’t want to take the little things for granted, as well as make goals to be more deliberate with our time. That reborn excitement and zest for life will spill into all aspects of the way we experience our one chance on this earth, and maybe we can savor the commonplace moments of our existence more than ever before. Like everyone else, I can’t wait to freely smile at strangers without a mask, to relish in the bustle and hustle of a busy city, and to experience the swirl of human connection all around me.

We are not there yet. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to be grateful for in the meantime. Taking note of what we are grateful for can help us feel grounded. It can be anything. Right now, I’m grateful for the fact that I woke up today, for the comfortable blanket I’m snuggled under, for the apple I ate this morning, and for the opportunity to spend time with my friends.

I am not trying to tell anyone how to cope with the pandemic or trying to slather an annoying amount of positivity onto a very unfortunate situation. As my friends and family have remained healthy, I know that my circumstances could be much worse. I know that in the grand scheme of things, missing some of my college experience will be a blip in my life, and that there are people dealing with far greater losses.

No matter what your circumstances are, I think we should all give ourselves time to complain and cry. Take as much time as you need. And if you feel up to it, and you want to get some of your feelings out through ranting or punching a pillow, maybe you’ll have more space in your mind to see glimmers of hope and gratitude. The expression of our complaints and emotions frees space in our minds, and therefore goes hand in hand with our ability to practice gratitude.

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