April 16, 2020

Crazy how the world changes so quickly. And in many ways it feels like I don’t have anything new to contribute or say on the subject of this Pandemic. I mean, there’s always a lot to say, but with approximately 7.5 billion of us talking about the same thing, it’s bound to get repetitive. Every person experiencing this pandemic has their own view on it. The mothers at home with all of their kids at once, trying to do their best but feeling like they are falling short. Exhausted beyond belief they keep on trekking. The senior citizens who are scared to go grocery shopping because they are more at risk for catching the virus. The children who miss their friends and school.

I’m a college student and so my experience is different. That means that I live in an apartment in a college town. My classes all switched to being online and for some of my classes that worked great. For others, my grades suffered. My stress levels were already high with projects and finals on the horizon. My job situation is stable for the moment but liable to change at any moment. Even with roommates, I live on my own. We all exist independent of each other, and so that means my roommates can choose to move back home or get married during this time. I don’t live with family. Because of this, my social interaction is extremely limited.

I remember a few weeks ago when my state’s governor gave the stay at home order, that I had a panic attack. For weeks, it felt like I had no choices or options, and yet I knew that my mental health was diving headlong into a pool of depression. Right at the beginning of all of this, I caught a cold that turned into a sinus infection that left me stuck at home for 2 weeks with little to no human interaction. The light at the end of the tunnel was that once I no longer had symptoms I could potentially go into work a few hours a week, just to get out of the house.

I set rules for myself that weren’t realistic because I wanted to do the right thing. I wanted to do what was right. And I felt trapped because of it. When the stay at home order came, I panicked. It felt like if I was going to have human interaction, I had to make a choice ASAP of which sibling I was going to move in with. I didn’t want to leave my apartment (I like my independence and autonomy) but it felt like I had no choice.

The thing is, this is a lie. No matter what situation we find ourselves in, there’s always a choice. Even if we don’t choose, that is making a decision. We don’t have to be trapped by our own rules. In the end, I’m still here in Provo. But that’s because I actively choose to be here. I want to be here. And because I’m making an active choice, and I’m still open to other options, I’m happier. I’m no longer trapped here. It’s no longer a prison. Choices give you freedom even when the situation makes it seem like you aren’t free.

Now, to bring it back to fiction. How many villains say “You gave me no choice,” or “I had no other choice,” or something to that effect? How many bad guys set themselves on a path and decide that they had no other choice? I personally want to be the hero of my own story. And that means to always find another way.

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