Editor's note: This personal account was written by the photo editor of the O’Colly and is her personal experience. COVID-19 is different for everyone and should not be judged solely on this account.
There’s a strange amount of guilt that comes with knowing you’ve caught COVID. Even though I felt like I was doing everything I could and being as responsible as I could in a college environment, when I found out I had COVID, I felt like I had committed a crime.
Going into this school year, I assured myself that I would do everything I could to protect myself from COVID-19. I bought hand sanitizer for my backpack and my car, I wouldn’t crowd in classrooms or the hallways of different buildings. I already told my family that I wouldn’t be coming home till Christmas because I didn’t have the ability to quarantine before I came home for Thanksgiving. This wasn’t something I wanted to do, but something I felt like I had to do to keep my family safe.
When I got to Oklahoma State for my junior year, life at school played out a lot differently than I thought it was going to. I felt tense and unsure; was I doing what I was supposed to with COVID happening? I brushed the nerves off my back and slowly fell back into the normal routine of school. I would go study at coffee shops, hang out with friends, get called in for work. It felt normal and it felt like Corona wasn’t really happening. Sure, people were throwing large parties and crowding the bars, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t hang out with my friends. We were responsible.
The last weekend of August, my friends threw a birthday party at our apartment. It was a group of close friends. Everyone there believed in COVID and had been following social distancing. We trusted each other to be responsible with COVID, so somehow we felt safe and OK around each other. But we didn’t know that someone outside of our responsible group wasn’t responsible and exposed a girl without her knowing. Then she unknowingly exposed us.
I was lucky enough to get a rapid test from OSU and quarantine quickly. The first day I had symptoms was hell. I was somehow able to drag myself out of bed and go to classes but not before I was overcome with headaches and a fever. I sat at my desk, wrapped in a blanket and breaking my fever while I listened to my afternoon graphic design class.
The first day was the worst of it and slowly, I was able to recover. I felt like I was lucky that I didn’t have it that bad and tried to look on the positive side. I was able to sleep the most I had all semester. COVID was hard , not because of the sickness, but what I had to miss. I missed being with my family for a funeral because I tested positive. I missed being able to see my dad before he has an operation on his heart. I cemented my plans of not seeing Kansas till Christmas because my family didn’t want to be exposed. COVID didn’t change my life completely, but it did alter it in ways I didn’t think it was going to. My life still hasn’t gone back to normal now that I’m recovered either.
I feel strange being able to be back on campus. The guilt that I felt from getting COVID is still there in the back of my mind, working as a gentle reminder to grab hand sanitizer whenever I can and to never take my mask off in public, no matter how hot my face is.
I don’t want to risk exposure again not because being sick was the worst, but because I don’t want to put the people I care about in danger again. I want to be able to be with my family when they need me and work with my fellow editors in the newsroom, not behind my computer and through zoom. My experience with COVID was hard. It also showed me no matter how responsible I think I am, I am not an exception when it comes to following social distancing and creating a safe space for others. We never know when we will need to be with the people we love so being able to have that choice, instead of being with them through FaceTime, is something important to remember as we continue the school year and wonder why OSU has all these rules.