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Dr. Get-Your-Life-Together: Progressing in a Pandemic

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  • As celebrators of the new year, we hadn’t envisioned a 2020 filled with so much trauma, death, aloneness, loss, grief, and disruption. 

    As the clock of 2019 wound down, the ball in New York City began to drop, and celebrators began to sing “Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot and days of auld lang syne?”. At long last, the year 2020 had arrived! A year that many, including myself, had proclaimed would be “the year of perfect 20/20 vision!” 

    For many, the start of a new year is a time to reflect, restore, renew, and recommit. And perhaps, you started the year off doing just that. You cracked open that new journal with a dedication to write and self-reflect each day. You made a vision board with your friends while sipping on mimosas and eating chicken and waffles. You finally renewed that gym membership and went to the grocery store and bought the freshest of fruits and veggies and maybe even committed to a new vegan, paleo, or keto lifestyle. You even promised to finally give up your vice, say “yes” to vacation invites with the crew, spend more time loving on your family, and excel in your academic studies, not settling for anything less than an A.  You were set and focused. 

    And then came March.   

    “Wear a mask!” “Hey you, maintain 6 feet social distance!” “Wash your hands!” “Disinfect everything!”  “Cancel your vacations!” “Quarantine!” “Self-isolate!” “Zoom!” “Unemployment.” “Closed.” “Stay at home.” “Essential workers only.” “Furlough.” “Cancel. CANCEL. CANCEL.”  

    COVID-19, a deadly virus, began spreading rapidly throughout the world, fundamentally altering and disrupting everything that we once considered normal and heightening feelings of anxiety, paranoia, and depression.   

    As celebrators of the new year, we hadn’t envisioned a 2020 filled with so much trauma, death, aloneness, loss, grief, and disruption. 

    But alas, here we are. Four months remaining in the year. Slowly, but surely, regaining our vision and walking cautiously into a new normal.  

    If nothing else, this year has (re)taught me the value of: 

    1. The selah (se-lah): A call for a break, a pause [or breath] to restore, reflect, recreate, and revive 
    2. The celebration: An acknowledgment of all of the moments, no matter how big or small, in-person or virtual, for self or for those dearest to me, for I don’t know what tomorrow holds 
    3. The silver lining: Hope in the midst of chaos, confusion, gloom, and, yes, even a pandemic  

    As we continue to put one foot in front of the other, making sense of the new world around usbe encouraged that:  

    • Yes, we are still in a pandemic. But, we can still have purpose.  Go grab that journal, my friend! 
    • Yes, we will experience some disruption. But, we can still dream.  Pull out that vision board, sis! 
    • Yes, we may face some trauma. But, we still have the capacity to thrive.  Tap into your reservoir of resiliencemy brotha!  
    • Yes, we may get weary. But, we can still be restored.  Get some rest and then smash those resolutionsy’all! 

    And finally, 

    • Yes, you may be meeting in-person, online, or hybrid for your classes this semester. But, the university is OPEN(!), and you can still make adequate progress toward a timely degree completion!  So, show up!  Ace those exams!  Write those papers! 

    For one day, you’re going to look back and reflect on how you managed to progress during a pandemic. 

    “We’ll tak a cup o’kindness yet for days of auld lang syne.”  

    Dr. Ivory Berry, also known as “Dr. Get-Your-Life-Together,” is the Assistant Dean for Student Success for the College of Education and Human Development. He shares his no-nonsense wisdom every day in the Office of Student and Academic Affairs, and occasionally, here on the Student Success Blog.