When Your Last Semester is Turned Upside Down

by Victoria Gehman ('20)

April 7, 2020

Posted: April 7, 2020

When Your Last Semester is Turned Upside Down

by Victoria Gehman ('20)

Victoria Gehman, (’20), majoring in social work, shares what it’s like to be a senior in college while feeling the effects of COVID-19 on society and her education. May you find comfort in hearing what God is doing in the life of an LBC|Capital student in this time!

Typically when I think of losses, I think of losing a loved one. I think of death. And that’s definitely a big one, which many have recently experienced and that is so hard. But there are so many other types of losses too – different in intensity, but still very much losses. The loss of a job. The loss of a friend. The loss of health. The loss of one’s last semester of senior year.

That last one is one I never imagined I would experience. Never could I have been prepared for this.

I had my last undergraduate college class ever without knowing it. I spent my last night on campus, having no idea it would be my last. That last time I drove off of campus the other week – it was the last time I’ll do that as a student. All of these lasts were going to happen soon. But they weren’t supposed to happen like this. I was supposed to know this was coming. I thought I would be able to enjoy those moments with my friends. I would have my last social work class surrounded by my favorite professors and by my friends who have been with me on this journey the last four years. We would have our senior presentations. We would celebrate together. We would reach graduation May 8 and walk that stage with our classmates. Together. Proud of what we accomplished over the last four years – these last four years which have been some of the best and also some of the most difficult years of my life. It doesn’t feel right to end like this. Where is the closure? As a social worker who wants to transition and end well, this isn’t how that’s done. This goes against everything we’ve learned. Yet, none of us has any say in this. None of us could have predicted this.

But now here we are. We have to find some way to move forward, but how?

A lot of us are sitting in our houses, surrounding by younger siblings who are running around the house – blaring music, pounding their feet like elephants above your room where you’re trying to write that paper or have a professional conference call with your internship (not that I’m speaking from experience here, or anything – as the oldest of five 😉). Your internship may be closed, and you’re scrambling to find creative ways to get the rest of your hours in so that you can even graduate.

You still want to end well, but is there even a point?

Right now, if I’m being honest, I’m not really seeing the way forward. I’m sad. I’m angry. I’m disappointed. I feel stuck. Trapped. Depressed. Anxious. Afraid. Confused. Even purposeless. Suddenly, it feels like every aspect of my life has been turned completely upside down.

And I know we’re focusing on senior year right now, but many of us seniors are also impacted by many other things – loss of income, cancellation of other big plans, etc. For extroverts, like myself, we’re already going insane being stuck home much of the time. There are so many other major factors which I could get into – those heading back into traumatic situations, which further exasperates how hard this is, those with significant health issues or loved ones with significant health issues, those with addictions who are now alone and not feeling the support they need which is likely a major part of their toolbox of ways to cope – just to name a few.

What I want to say right now is: your feelings are valid. Be sensitive to others, yes. But don’t feel that just because your pain doesn’t seem as big as someone else’s that it isn’t valid. Pain is pain. Losses are losses, and it’s okay to be struggling right now.

This is not how any of us wanted to end. Truthfully, I don’t really feel like I have a whole lot of hope to offer right now. But I am thankful for my social work professors at LBC who have been working so hard to help us succeed through this and who also care about us individually. I’m thankful for my solid friends who are sticking together through this. The ones who are calling. The ones who I can be my most real and raw self with. The ones I can laugh with and, for a short time, forget about everything else. The ones who I haven’t talked to in forever but who have reached out in these hard times to see how I’m doing. I’m thankful that (at least for now) I can still go outside and enjoy nature. I’m thankful that I have a God who sees and who knows. Who understands my pain right now. Trusting is super hard right now, and I have a lot of questions. But God can handle those. And He wants us to bring our hurts to Him. And I’m reminding myself of this just as much right now – maybe more than – I’m reminding anyone else. Even in this, He is still in control. I don’t understand, and I’m not exactly at the point where I can say, “yet I will rejoice in the LORD,” (Habakkuk 3:18) as Habakkuk says after listing a whole bunch of things that were going wrong. Or Job “though he slay me, yet I will trust” (Job 13:15). But I do pray that God will strengthen my hope and trust in Him through this. He is with us even in the storms. And for all of my fellow seniors out there, but especially my fellow LBC social work friends: I love you and we’re in this together.

Be kind, friends. We’re all struggling. Write a note of encouragement to someone. Spend some time with the people around you. Call your friends. Call your grandparents or others you know who may be stuck even more alone and secluded than what you are. Get outside and enjoy some fresh air on the nice days.

This blog post originally appeared on Free, Victoria Gehman’s blog, and was shared with her permission.