How to make sense of it all

By Peter Ruijten - Dodoiu - 23 November 2021


On Friday 12 November at 19.00, I sat down on my couch to watch the latest COVID-19 press conference. I knew what they were going to say, as always, but I was curious to hear how they would say it. It may have started with curiosity, however,  it surely ended with frustration.


Completely unexpected, it was announced that we could no longer have more than 75 students in a classroom. Just two days before, I had just sentd out an announcement two days before to 170 students in a course with the following uplifting message: “Every year I look forward to the course (it really is my favorite), and this feeling might even be stronger this year. If we do not hear about a change in measures for group sizes in classes, we should be allowed to have all lectures on campus (in Auditorium 1) with all students of the course present.”


Suddenly we had to change everything between Friday evening and Monday morning. This was the first time that measures felt like they really affected me personally. And it hurt. I went through the seven stages of grief (shock and denial, pain, anger, depression, the upward turn, reconstruction, acceptance) between the press conference and the first lecture of the course.


Here’s the thing. Since the first lockdown in March last year, we’ve all tried to adapt. We were told it would only take a couple of months. Then we were told that we needed to get to a 70% vaccination rate. We were told that there would be no more lockdowns, that planned operations could take place again, and that education at Universities would go back to normal again. But a pandemic just isn’t a plannable event.


We feel sometimes that we have been lied to, tricked, or pushed in a corner. We may feel shocked or in pain, or we might have become angry or depressed. We blame others for our misfortunes and politicians for acting too late, or too harsh. And we wonder. How do we get out of this? Why is this happening to me? Are we making the right decisions?


I think it is good to ask questions, to wonder. Even if we do not have the answers to those questions. Sometimes asking ourselves the question is all we need to feel better. I felt frustrated that Friday, asked myself questions on Saturday, and, despite not finding answers to my questions, I felt better on Sunday. As if I had made sense of it all.

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