What if this is it?

Real talk about anxiety during the Coronavirus

Abby Jarecki, Iris Editor-In-Chief

When I was younger, I feared that the world would end. When my classmates rumored that this was going to happen in 2012, I strategically woke up early on New Year’s Day that year to make sure the world was still there and spinning. 

But the world didn’t end. 

Flash forward to 2020, my graduation year, where COVID-19 is affecting everything. “Affect” doesn’t even feel like the right word. It has INFESTED our lives with fear and panic, and words like “global pandemic” and “public health emergency” circulate along with the spread of the virus. Life itself has changed, and it feels like the world is ending. 

SNL comedian Micheal Che exclaimed, “What if this is it?” while discussing the epidemic in the March 7 segment of Weekend Update. Che proceeded with his act by unbuttoning his shirt and acting like he didn’t care what his audience thought about him, since the world was probably going to end anyway. Comedians and high schoolers alike joke around about the world ending, especially when an environment of panic surrounds us. 

In January, the Coronavirus seemed far away, like it would never impact us. But as we are constantly notified of more cases, deaths and cancellations, the harsh reality of the pandemic settles in and affects our everyday lives. We have been sent home, told to quarantine, and left living in a constant state of fear and uncertainty. It’s not even that events are getting canceled, it feels like life is getting canceled. 

What if this is it?

It sounded funny on SNL, but in reality this question still scares me as it did in 2012. 

Because when the world is in hysteria, it is easy for preexisting anxieties to rise higher and for thoughts to spiral into dark places. Especially with self-quarantining and social distancing, where do these bad thoughts go and where do they end? The uncertainty in this situation leaves question marks on almost everything; the only thing you can try to control is how you react.

In any global panic, you must stay balanced between worrying about the world around you, taking precautions and living your own life. While there is no way to stop hearing about developments of the Coronavirus, you must be aware of your thoughts and try to stop the spiraling, no matter how hard it is. 

In this time of high anxiety, my parents reminded me that they thought the world was over after 9/11. My mom said that as a pregnant 29-year-old working in the city, she couldn’t even imagine having a baby after what happened. But she did the next year, and now I’m here writing this. 

The world is not ending. The world is changing, just as it did after 9/11. While this disrupts life as we know it, we have to accept it. And I’m still having trouble coming to peace with this alteration of life, as it’s always been hard for me to adjust to unknown changes. 

But during this time, I’m planning and visualizing my next year at Penn State, while getting to spend more time with my family. I’m drawing more, which has always calmed my anxiety, and I’m working out to release endorphins. I’m thinking of new coronavirus and non-Coronavirus related pieces to finish my year off as a Hi’s Eye staff member, and, generally, I’m taking more time to appreciate life. 

We’ll get through this, but in the meantime, in the words of the late and inspiring Westfielder Brad Coustan, let’s “Find a silver lining every day.”