It’s pretty damn hard to stay positive in the year 2020.
When my advisor, Dave Blow, asked me for an idea for a story, I struggled. Just like how mostly everyone around the globe is struggling.
He was looking for something personal. Something that would make me reach deep down inside for the feelings that I normally wouldn’t even bear any attention to. Something that would make me uncomfortable at the moment, but would allow me to express myself and what’s going through my head during this absolutely unforeseen, crazy and confusing time we live in.
So, let’s take a crack at it.
If you would’ve told me at the beginning of my freshman year at Castleton University I would finish my senior year “virtually” and not walk across the stage under the pavilion on May 16, 2020, I would have laughed in your face. A joke.
That joke has become reality.
Let me first say that COVID-19 is something that should not be taken lightly. It’s a serious virus taking and is ruining thousands of lives across the world. I absolutely love that people of all ages are standing together, donating money to hospitals and research centers. It’s truly remarkable.
But, it doesn’t erase how the impact and implications of the virus have been incredibly destructive and divisive to an individual’s life, including mine and my sister’s.
Maryssa Crosier, 15, from Wynantskill, New York, was just finishing her first full year at Averill Park High School, where she was a standout in her honors classes and involved in the Journalism Club.
Now she’s setting up shop at 8 a.m. on our kitchen table with her Google Chromebook, textbooks and pens trying to tackle assignments until 2 p.m. It’s a difficult transition for someone who was eager to explore the freedoms of high school.
“It was hard at first trying to figure out everything, but now it’s getting better,” she said. “The communication with teachers is easier, like I know what I have to do when I have to do it. It’s less stressful than having a set time for each block, and I miss my friends a lot.
This is asking a lot out of a 15-year-old girl who just transitioned from an eighth grade class of 32 kids into a freshman class of roughly 250 students.
Think back to when you were in high school and the things you enjoyed.
Roaming the hallways with your friends.
Having conversations with your teachers in between classes.
Learning about your subjects that piqued your interest.
My sister isn’t supposed to leave the house, resulting in many Facetime calls and snapchats with her closest friends. She can’t go to her photography, geometry or biology classes and learn from some of her favorite teachers.
But worst of all for Maryssa, she can’t play her favorite sport; softball.
With social distancing procedures extended in the state of New York until April 30, the odds of high school spring sports continuing are bleak at best. Crushing news for a kid who loves to crush the ball.
“It’s disappointing, because I was looking forward to it,” she said. “High school team, it’s what I looked forward to since I was little, and I can’t do it this year.”
As her older brother, it stings to hear that. I know how much happiness Maryssa finds as she sits behind the plate at the catcher position. Or when she patiently waits in the right side of the batter’s box to hit the ball wherever she pleases.
Maryssa has her eyes set on playing softball at a four-year college while obtaining a degree in education, preferably the University of Texas. She loves the Longhorns.
In the meantime, she’ll enjoy going to class from the comfort of her own house in her fuzzy, purple pajamas accompanied by her best friend: our two-year-old pitbull named Lily. Speaking on behalf of Lily, she’s certainly happy Maryssa is home to snuggle with on the couch.
As for this aspiring journalist, I’m still soaking everything in.
My senior year at Castleton has been nothing short of eventful.
I wrapped up a 17-year career of playing football in November, closing the book on a memorable and meaningful part of my life.
In late January, one of my childhood heroes died in a helicopter crash. Kobe Bryant served as a major inspiration for me to rehabilitate and come back to playing football for my senior year, after almost breaking my neck and suffering severe nerve damage in my right shoulder a year prior.
As a communication major with a journalism concentration at CU, I was highly anticipating my second College Media Association conference in New York City. An opportunity to learn from experienced professionals in my field was ripped away due to the cancellation of Castleton University sponsored travel and events.
Next on the list was the end of my internship as a sports reporter for the Rutland Herald. I was gaining experience in the field I want to immerse myself in for the next 30-plus years of my life. This one really hurt because I loved learning from my colleagues and supervisors that have the same passion for writing and sports as I do.
Most significantly, the transition to online classes for the remainder of the spring semester felt like the walls caved in and crumbled to the ground. With no commencement ceremony in May of this year, it feels like my hard work went to waste and I have to immediately adjust to the real world.
There’s no replacing the memories you make in critical periods of your life. In a time where I’m in the middle of finishing classes, applying for jobs and making arrangements to come home to New York, it’s safe to say the deep breath of relaxing and enjoying the company of my friends at Castleton was something I was relying on to make the final push to graduation.
But now, here I am sitting inside my house wondering when things will go back to “normal.”
All we can truly do is appreciate what we have in this moment, and do the best we can under unwanted and unusual circumstances.
I’m grateful for my supportive family and friends who understand everything I’ve missed out on this year, as they are the reason I’m sane.
It breaks my heart to see so many people not having the opportunity to bask in their respective glory for one day with the people they love before moving on to the next stages of their lives.
For me, it’s an uphill climb, but I’m making progress.