'I already lost most of my early 20s'

by Cheyenne Wise

These past few years have created this heavy and strange feeling that has found itself settling on my chest. It’s a constant feeling of disconnect—a disconnect from my peers, professors, friends, and even family. I’m staring at a black screen or the muted faces of people I should know, but it feels like I’m watching a TV show.

I was 21 when COVID-19 hit, and now I’m 24. I’ve already lost most of my early 20s, and I don’t know when I’m ever going to get it back. A lot of people are telling me, “well, you could have gone out and partied with your friends or traveled” as if COVID-19 doesn’t exist or like I’m not terrified of getting sick. I was supposed to be a graduate and living in another state working a dream job, but here I am, sitting in my room in my hometown, waiting for my next class to start while getting ready for work. I’m not unhappy with where my life is, but I’m not exactly delighted with everything. I love my jobs, my coworkers, and the fact that I’m living with my childhood best friend, but some part of me is mourning the loss of what could have been, just like many people.

I miss having exciting conversations with my peers and being excited about my classes. The disconnect and lack of inspiration are like a smack to the face when I sit down to log onto Zoom for my lecture. I’ve become one of those black screens that remains muted, and I hate it. Even writing has become a struggle for me. I’m a storyteller, but all I have is nothing when I sit down to write. There’s no ‘aha’ moment of what story needs to be told or list of potential events to look to reporting on.

I know I’m not alone in this feeling because I see it everywhere. Other college students are no longer being inspired by their studies. I just wish I had some great advice on mediating a solution, but I don’t. It’s a dreadful feeling, and I feel a particular type of guilt for not having a remedy.

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