College is, for most, a time full of uncertainty. Class selection, career prospects and housing all raise questions about the best path forward, not to mention the many social spheres that college students must navigate. I personally have changed degrees, left clubs to join new ones and even drastically rethought my own future while at USC.
This semester, every uncertainty is amplified. In the middle of both a pandemic and a highly consequential presidential election, it can seem like every decision is life-altering. Do I study abroad and risk getting or spreading a disease? Should I go on a date and risk the same? What will the future hold? As always, we make decisions off of incomplete information, but it seems more incomplete than usual.
I’ve struggled with this uncertainty as a student journalist. Anticipation of uncertain news, be it positive or, as it’s trended recently, negative, has left me numb to the future. I’ve neglected my academic, professional and personal lives as a result.
It reached a breaking point for me two weeks ago during our coverage of murders and lost students. There was a day full of tears, doubts and self-loathing — I couldn’t continue letting uncertainty wash over me. So, I took steps toward reclaiming the parts of my life that I could control from the chaos of 2020.
It started with classes. Hybrid classes had sent me into a sort of lethargy, basically rolling out of bed, attending classes and heading back to bed. Normally, I would attend classes in-person, so I’ve reverted to that, as much as possible. I’ve also had to choose to start doing my homework again after weeks of neglecting it out of apathy.
And, with social plans, holidays and their ilk slashed by the risk of contagion, I felt like I had nothing to look forward to. To remedy that, I’ve chosen to plan meals to cook with my roommates, girlfriend and a few others within my bubble. We pick out recipes and head to Food Lion to get what we need for them.
I’m very fortunate to have enough mobility to enact these changes. For a variety of reasons, many can’t afford to attend class in-person or shop on a recipe-by-recipe basis. The changes I’ve made are also relative to where I was when I chose to make them. Seizing control of your own life comes in degrees, and everybody starts in different places.
So, I can’t directly control university policies. I can’t control the overall results of the 2020 election. But, regardless of what I control, I have to go to bed with myself every night — I'm the only one who can. I'd like to do so as much on my own terms as possible.
— Jack Bingham, senior news writer