Historians Encourage Us to Document Our Pandemic Experiences

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University of Virginia Professor and historian, Herbert “Tico” Braun, recently wrote to his class and people of all ages that this is the time for us to be documenting our day to day lives, including emotions, challenges, opportunities, and funny anecdotes. All across the globe, we are going through this coronavirus pandemic shared experience with a whole host of perspectives. While we are in the midst of it and memories are fresh, let’s all document our times each day. 

How to write about the coronavirus and your experiences

It is easiest to do this by keeping an online journal or blog. However, I know it is hard to keep up with this habit. The best thing you can do is remind yourself that, even if you miss a day of documenting, you should not let that deter you from starting again. We are making history and your writing could someday be a first-hand record for a young child to learn about what 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic meant for the people living through it.

Telling the stories of uplifting things happening during COVID-19 pandemic

Personally, I am going through this from ground zero of the outbreak in the United States, Seattle. Last night, we tried our own version of rooftop comradery that the Italians kicked off. At 8:00 pm we all shared a joyful noise to encourage and show support to our first responders and medical professionals who are on the front lines. The whole neighborhood delivered a boisterous and jovial noise that we could hear even before we opened the windows. It surprised me how much pleasure this one act gave me. We all want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, especially during a time of spending a lot more alone time. In my case time with my partner and my cat, Aaron. The cat is not happy that we are invading his personal space during the day, when he normally sleeps in peace. 

The mundane aspects of staying home

During the weekdays, my partner and I started off in early March wearing our normal work attire and getting up at the same time every day. As this social distancing time has dragged on we have started to slowly wear more comfortable clothes and hit the snooze button a few times. Our hands are cracking from our routine of frequent handwashing to the happy birthday song, disinfecting the door handles, our phones, light switches, and any bags every time we return from leaving the house. 

desk lampAt the same time, we are witnessing our teams improving at working remotely. Even our coworkers who are resistant to change are embracing the technology that we need to work together. Another weekday highlight is my manager encourages outdoor time during the day and has told me to get outside as much as possible. My partner and I share a new favorite break activity; we enjoy talking about the stock market. We both studied finance and business in school and are nerding out about the market volatility that we had not yet experienced in our adult life. Though, my most favorite break time thing is Girl Scout cookies. We eat them as a reward for a day well distanced.  

Our Sundays now include a regular routine of watching virtual church, making waffles, working out (either a cautious run that allows us to keep our distance or a favorite workout video), cuddling with the kitty and working on our latest side hustles. This is not a life to complain about. It is just different.

Write about plans changing due to COVID-19

For all of us, it is a scary time with many unknowns. We are anticipating a wedding on June 6th, 2020. We have had this day planned for almost fifteen months and we are anxiously awaiting every update from the CDC with new social distancing guidance. A wait-and-see approach seems like the best option for my partner and me. However, the Type A, planner and Type 2w3 Enneagram type in me is having small panic attacks any time I think of my guests and their inability to plan for the trip with confidence.

Who knows what large events the local governments will allow two months from now. As a public servant myself, I must say that I am proud of the work that local governments are doing to respond to this emergency and I understand that they will continue to make tough decisions. We want as many people to make it to our wedding as possible but also realize and respect that for some, the risks of exposure will be too high to celebrate in person in June. All we can do now is wait and decide later. Hopefully, in late April we will have a clearer picture of the future.

OK, Boomer

While all of this is overwhelming and hard to comprehend, we have the support of our loving families, friends, and even our friends’ families. We are grateful for everyone who has checked in, for all the thoughts and prayers, and for the health and positive spirits of our family. We, like many of you, had to plead with our parents to stay home. “OK, Boomer” is a popular phrase at the moment but my parents would be appalled if I ever said that phrase to them. You have to know your audience, and trust me, convincing them to stay home takes repeated scientific facts and an occasional show of my true emotions. They know that I am scared for them and they feel my anxiety through the phone line.

social distancingEh… don’t get too worried, I finally convinced them to keep their distance and minimize their outings. Now, when we talk on the phone we can laugh at lighter topics like our cat snoring through my meetings

Write your own uplifting stories during the coronavirus emergency

Some of the most uplifting stories through all of this come from the community rallying and doing their part. In your own writing about this time, tell the stories of how you are shopping local, donating to your regular stylist or local coffee shop who cannot operate during the COVID-19 induced social distancing.

The best part of all this is the time we have, that we once spent commuting, to serve our neighbors through grocery trips for people at risk, chalking encouraging notes on our driveways for seniors who are taking walks, or even playing a musical instrument with the window open them to enjoy. Write about a neighbor being there for you. We may be distant but we can feel close to others. People all over are connecting through online game playing, virtual symphony and choral concerts, and plain old video calling to family. We are able to find hope in this chaos by lifting each other up and encouraging people to stay home. People in the future will love these stories as well. Document them. Share them.

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