By Monique Conibear
On a camping trip a few months ago, we had to drive over a 4WD track in 2WD cars after dark to find another site after our original campsite fell through. We were all tired and stressed, driving over sharp rocks and getting scratches all over the sides of the car. At the time it was horrible, however afterwards, I realised that through experiencing something like that we were now better equipped to deal with challenges in the future.
I still find it crazy to think that this time two months ago we had no idea this was all going to happen. We were going ahead as normal, planning out our semester and looking forward to events with no idea what was ahead of us. As usual, I was setting goals for the semester; trying to predict what sort of schedule I would have so that I could organise going to the gym more, using social media less and minimizing screen time. Goals such as this have become impossible, but instead I am growing in ways I never would have imagined.
Already I have learned a lot about dealing with uncertainty. You are never going to know exactly what your future will look like and that is okay. I don’t know whether the state will be going into lockdown tomorrow, whether I will start to develop viral symptoms or if someone I know will get sick. Usually that would make me stressed and anxious, however through this experience I have really learnt how to give it to God. I’ve learnt to acknowledge that he is in control and that I do not have to worry about what is happening. This has really helped me to remain positive and hopeful so that whenever I receive bad news I am able to remain peaceful and confident that we will all get through.
I have also learnt a lot about leadership through this time. In all of my committees we have had to brainstorm new and innovative ways to reach out to people, such as through Zoom calls, self-care videos and posts (such as this one). We have become better at thinking outside of the box, so that when everything goes back to normal we will still be able to implement some of these strategies to reach the students.
Finally, this experience is an opportunity to build resilience. Later on during that same camping trip, a friend and I found ourselves stranded at a random campsite (that needed to be booked) at 11pm with no service and no other place to stay. While our other friends went to try and book online, we were stuck there wondering whether we would need to drive another hour before we could actually get some sleep. Personally, I found that hard to deal with and if I hadn’t experienced other challenges in the past, I may not have been able to handle the stress.
This isolation experience is very similar. During this time it feels horrible and stressful and lonely. When we look back in a year or two, however, we will be able to say that it prepared us for future challenges in a way we never expected.