Columnist Gracie Rechkemmer assesses the virtue of patience in the midst of 2020. 

The longer 2020 goes on, the more difficult it becomes to ascribe any positive trait to this year. A series of devastating events rocked our country and our world, and the misfortune shows no sign of stopping.

This year has been enough to discourage even the most positive-minded person. However, I consider myself an optimist and I believe there are worthwhile lessons to be learned from even the darkest of times (including right now). Living in 2020 has taught me a lesson that is deceptively simple, yet life-changing:

How to simply wait. 

As a person who struggles with anxiety and as a person who is always on the move, patience has never been my strong point. It has always been important to me to know what is going on and to feel like I have a semblance of control over my situation. I feel like my best self when I am actively and purposefully making progress in life — because of this, living in 2020 placed me way outside my comfort zone. I found myself in the position, like everyone else, of living in a state of uncertainty. My education, job and entire life were effectively placed on hold. I had little to no information about anything and no plan for what to do next.  

This year forced me to learn patience. 

While the transition did not happen immediately, I was eventually able to accept the reality of the situation and learn there can be beauty in waiting. In order to do this, I had to be willing to let go of my need for control and trust that things would work out — even if I didn't know exactly what that would entail. By abdicating control, I freed myself from the burden of constantly worrying and allowed myself to enjoy life, as unconventional as it may be right now. 

Patience is freeing and more necessary now than ever. 

With the semester quickly approaching, this is especially relevant. Students are still waiting for concrete information about what their schedules, living situations and classroom settings will look like in the fall. It is difficult to wait for that information, especially when it is about something as important to us as our education. I have personally already changed my class schedule multiple times in anticipation of coronavirus-related changes. However, this is not necessarily the healthiest option.  

My advice is to stop refreshing your email every hour and to forgo a complete schedule rehaul before the new class lists are released. Recognize that although we are not in control of this situation, we are in control of our own reactions to it. We each have the ability to take a breath, let our worries go and do our best to enjoy the last weeks of summer. 

Most of all, we each have the ability, and perhaps the responsibility, to be patient. I promise it will improve your outlook on life. 

gracie rechkemmer profile pic.jpg

Gracie Rechkemmer is a junior in environmental science and global resource systems. 

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Steve Gregg


One of the things most adults learn is that many problems take care of themselves. As Calvin Coolidge said, if you see ten troubles coming down the road, nine will run off in the ditch before they reach you.

Strive to develop your inner calm. When people are running around, screaming and yelling, with their hair on fire, don’t follow them. Keep a barrier between you and the world so that you are not infected with the fear and panic that comes from crowds. When all around you are hysterical, you should be calmly plotting the resolution.

One thing I’ve learned from fires and car crashes and aircraft emergencies is that very often the solution is simple if only you have the presence of mind to think of it. Too many people get over-excited when calamity comes. You should strive for equanimity in the face of all things. Most big things are solved the way little things are solved. They are just more freighted with risk.

When a problem lands in your lap, the best thing to do is make a list of the things you can do to turn that problem around. Then, work that list. Make sure you do at least one of those tasks before you go to bed, so that you wake up on the offensive, rather than the defensive. You’ll feel better working on a solution rather than crying about the problem.

Every problem that comes your way brings hidden advantages, if you have the wit to see them. Exploit those advantages. With all this downtime from the Plague, you should master Microsoft Office. Whatever job you get at graduation, you’ll need to know that. You can make your own job in any company by learning Access, then keeping track of things managers find important, regularly producing reports on them. Managers love reports.

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