Things rarely go exactly as planned. If this year has taught us nothing else, it has taught us that. I started 2020 with optimism. I was exercising and losing weight. I had plans to attend at least 8 music festivals between April and October. I was preparing for my 35 year high school reunion. I was excited about the small desk my husband gave me for Christmas—a designated place to pay bills and work on some extra-curricular studies.
As you can assume, my year didn’t play out like that. I decided my mental well-being was more important than counting calories. Music festivals are not happening. My high school reunion was canceled. And my bill-paying desk has been the Penn State Law Financial Aid Office since March.
When things don’t go as planned, there are only two ways to react. You can be angry and quit (which is less than ideal). Or you can move forward and do the best you can with what you’ve got. I’ve found joy in working from home and learning new technologies to make that process easier. (I highly recommend the Adobe Scan app for using your smart phone to scan documents into PDF form. And if you are extra lucky you’ll get to meet one of my cats during Zoom Drop-In Office Hours!) I’ve gone on a few camping trips. I’ve watched a number of streamed concerts. My husband and I have taken to having front yard cookouts so we can talk to our neighbors as they walk by. I have tickets to my first drive-in concert in a few weeks. None of this is what was planned. But I’m doing what I can with the hand I was dealt.
I don’t think anyone is excited about starting fall semester in a socially distant/hybrid manner. But this is what we’ve got. Focus on what you’ve got. We are fortunate that Penn State Law is well equipped with outstanding classroom technology. You’ll be able to commune with your classmates through technology. You can choose your own classic football games to watch, making sure Penn State always wins! (I highly recommend Penn State vs. Michigan—Oct. 12, 2013.)
As you start into the fall semester, anxiously awaiting financial aid refunds, remember to do the best you can with what you’ve got. The refund will come in time to pay off the credit card you used to get your books. You’ll be able to stock up on groceries very soon. But don’t go nuts…that lump sum refund at the start of the semester needs to last until January! Budget out your rent through January now. Make a spending plan so you know how much money you can afford to spend on groceries and fun throughout the semester. Deposit the bulk of your money into a savings account, and then transfer one month’s worth to your checking account each month. Then do what you can with what you’ve got.
The world is weird this year. But with the right attitude (and some imagination), it can still be amazing!