This summer was not what anyone expected. Internships canceled, businesses closed, masks on. As we gear closer towards the upcoming school year, I have been reflecting on how even in a very stressful and complex stage of life, it is important to notice the changes and to see the good things that have come out of this summer.

The Good:

Because of the rapid spread of the virus, Stay-at-Home orders were in effect the majority of the summer. People were stuck inside for months. However, the great outdoors has been many peoples’ escape and source of sanity, me being one of those people. According to the University of Maryland Medical System, some safe outdoor activities include, walks or jogs, bike rides, eating meals outside, or photography. I got into running again and walking trails (socially distanced of course). I was also able to explore and hike through Yosemite National Park. This pandemic has given me and many others a better appreciation for spending time outside and being more active. It has created time for people to start new hobbies or refine a skill once forgotten. However, this pandemic has not been kind to everyone.

The Bad:

Mental health has been a big topic during this pandemic. People have lost jobs, peace of mind, and even loved ones. Dealing with grief, financial burdens, and illness have been struggles for many people around the world. (Notice that the closure of bars was NOT the most upsetting part about this pandemic, contrary to popular belief by some people my age). I can attest to these struggles because, during this time, my house flooded with five (5) feet of water in my basement and my grandpa passed away. In the midst of all of this, Black Americans were being killed and discriminated against throughout the country. The country was in an uproar declaring the need for change. With all the death and destruction happening, at one time, I remember feeling like the world was nearing its end. This was a very hard time for me, mentally and emotionally.

These emotional stressors were challenging, yes, but I reminded myself to be thankful for what I did have. Because even though I experienced loss this summer, I knew other people were going through harder times and I could only be empathic to their losses. 

My Perspective:

Despite all the terrible things that happened this summer, I tried to have a positive outlook and make the best of this time. I was able to safely travel, build closer connections with family and friends, and stay productive. This pandemic reminded me to embrace the stage of life that we are in. People are getting sick and losing loved ones? Be smart and safe and always be conscious of others around you. Black lives are not being valued in this country? Get involved, educate yourself, and fight for change. With multiple international crises still in full swing, it is not time to be selfish and it is not about you. Keep others in mind because even though summer is coming to an end, this pandemic and racial injustices are not.

Some great resources to use to learn more about Black Lives Matter:

Bethanie is a senior studying Marketing with a minor in Advertising and Public Relations. She is the VP of Chapter Development for GVPRSSA and serves as an AA for GrandPR. In her free time, Bethanie likes to be active outside and try new restaurants in Grand Rapids. You can find her hanging out with friends or drinking kombucha.

Twitter: @bethaniemcgraw