The Best Laid Plans

Two weeks ago, I honestly thought that COVID-19 would not seriously affect my life. I was aware of the huge effects it was having in countries like China and Italy, but it felt like Vancouver Island was relatively immune.

People seem to really like peanut butter

It’s crazy how quickly things changed. As Vancouver Island’s first case was confirmed, and more and more cases cropped up in BC and across Canada, it became increasingly clear that our lives were about to look very different.

One day after the Island’s first case was confirmed, I went to the grocery store. Already, toilet paper was sold out and people were stocking up on beans and frozen veggies. That same day, I received confirmation that the EU Study Tour and Internship program, which I was going to participate in this summer, had been canceled. The next day, UVic announced that there would no longer be in-person classes.

I don’t think I’m alone in feeling disoriented by all of the sudden changes to our society and disappointed that my long-anticipated plans aren’t going to happen.

I’m currently in the last semester of my undergrad. There were 3 more weeks of classes and 3 more weeks of exams to go. I was going to make a big deal of my last day of school and after submitting my final assignment, I was going to walk around campus to say goodbye to a place where I have spent three years of my life. After that, I had a plan. Go home for two weeks, fly to Europe and spend a few days visiting friends in the Netherlands, take the train to Brussels to begin the EU Study Tour, and then spend two months doing an internship with the EU, which would potentially launch me into a career in international politics. Now, I’m packing up all of my stuff and moving back in with my parents for at least the next month.

Dinner with friends

I don’t share all this to complain. The last thing I want to do is minimize the experiences of others who have been affected much more negatively by COVID-19 than me. People who have lost friends or family, businesses that have closed, employees who’ve been laid off, parents who can’t afford to pay for childcare when schools have closed, those who are elderly or immuno-compromised and are afraid of leaving their homes to buy necessary supplies… the list goes on.

I don’t really have anything profound to say. This is an unprecedented situation and no one can accurately predict what things will be like one week, even one day, from now. I guess all I can say is that you’re not alone. We have all been affected by this in one way or another – whether it’s trips being canceled or self-isolating because you have a cold or worrying about loved ones in other parts of the world. When I begin to feel disappointed about my plans falling apart, I quickly realize that we are all in some way having to make sacrifices and adapt to difficult circumstances. And somehow, knowing this lessens my disappointment.

I hope that in the midst of these uncertain times we will realize what’s truly important. I won’t pretend to know what that is for you. For me, it’s my faith and my community. It’s about helping in little ways, whether by exercising social distancing or donating money to a local food bank. It’s about taking things one day at a time, and realizing that no matter how good my plans might be, I shouldn’t hold onto them too tightly.

Life is unpredictable. I hope we can all learn to lean into the uncertainty and come out stronger – both as individuals and as a society. And I hope we won’t forget that we’re in this together.

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