The Carthage Health and Counseling Center will provide regular posts to help our community during this time. The post below was written by Counselor Karen Seif.
There are defining moments in all lives, in which we are asked to reevaluate our identities, expectations, relationships, and futures. These moments can be both collective and individual. During collective moments, we often vividly remember the details of where we were, and what we were doing at the time. Individual moments are often more subtle and private, but not any less significant.
For baby boomers, the collective defining moment was the assassination of JFK. For Gen Xers and some millennials, it was 9/11. For Gen Z it will be the emergence of the Coronavirus. In the future, you will likely be asked, “Where were you when you realized that Coronavirus was a force to be reckoned with?”
Gen Z came of age in the aftermath of 9/11 when the bottom fell out for most Americans. The communal anxiety which ensued affected every aspect of their upbringing. And now, the bottom is falling out again. So what’s a Zoomer to do?
One characteristic of a defining moment is that you realize you’re capable of so much more than you thought. When you look at major disappointments and put them in new perspectives. When you decide whether to fall prey to despair or to invest in hope. When you think about what kind of leader you can be in the face of a crisis. A defining moment is necessarily defined by the way you think about it.
As emerging adults, Zoomers are facing massive confusion and challenges about what this virus means for now and for the security of the future. Some suggestions for managing these challenges include:
- Reach out to trusted friends and family and talk through your worries. Some of them may be irrational or unrealistic, and older adults may provide some perspective.
- Reach out to mental health professionals, most of whom will be available through telehealth.
- Focus on the present: make sure you have housing, food and supplies, and that you and your family stay healthy or get medical care immediately if you become sick. If you need resources, please call us.
- Notice how your perspective on events shapes how you feel, and after allowing yourself some well-deserved pity moments, try to shift your perspective. You can think, “I can’t believe I’m going to miss out on ______ this semester.” Or you could think, “This is a huge disappointment, but it’s one I can recover from.”
- Access your creativity: music, art, writing, acting, games, etc. and share with others online.
- Read new books, or re-read comfort books.
- Listen to your favorite music.
- Engage in mindfulness, grounding exercises, and meditation. Apps such as UCLA Mindful (free), Headspace, and Calm, or websites such as www.Tarabrach.com (free podcasts) are just a few of the many resources out there.
This crisis is challenging us all to learn flexibility and to adapt as everything changes from moment to moment. The crisis is also challenging us to rely on each other in creative ways, without posing a risk to others. As college students, your creativity, brilliance, empathy, and resourcefulness is needed to solve our collective problems. This is a defining moment, and you are the door to the future.