This is a guest post by Riad S. Abdullayev, a student in OpenLab team member Olivia Wood’s Composition 1 class at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Riad originally posted this work on the CUNY Academic Commons, a platform similar to the OpenLab that is open to all CUNY students. City Tech students are encouraged to browse the Commons to see what their peers at other colleges are working on.
Most probably one of the worst things the person can do right now is to be selfish and made the world problem about himself. However, this is exactly what I am going to do in this paper.
2019 was a tough year for me. It is started with my legalization process in this country. It started with a different choice I had to make – I needed to refuse my citizenship and apply for asylum here in the United States, which meant I could never go back to my country. I could never walk around the streets I grew up in. Most probably I will never see most of my friends ever again. I will never enter the house I grew up in. Unfortunately, as sad as it is but going back isn’t an option. Despite my family, my friends and some nice childhood memories my country can’t offer me anything else. Especially, it can’t guaranty the most essential thing for a human being – safety. Not only authorities deny protection for people like me, but they also initiate persecution and spread hate among citizens.
So, as hard as it was – I started my asylum application, which surprisingly didn’t last long. In the middle of March, I already got approval and now was the time to make my American dream come true.
I don’t want to go deep into the details since it should be about the COVID-19 pandemic and how it affected me, but I want the reader to understand my position better.
After eight months of changing different minimal wage jobs, several panic attacks and taking control over my PTSD, I finally have been accepted to college! One step closer to my goal. In the last weeks of 2019, I made a list – well, not even a list more of a guideline – what I am going to do in 2020 and the upcoming decade in general. I promised myself to enjoy life, take as many opportunities as I can, be social, take care of my health – both physical and mental, take care of my look, start to dress stylish and many other things that I didn’t do in 2019. And, well, generally before.
And the first three months of 2020 I truly did my best to follow this guideline.
But the universe had a different plan for us all. The year started with a rumor about World War Three. And then not long after we heard about the novel coronavirus spreading around chine and slowly going out of it to other countries. We all remember the bird flu, swine flu, Ebola outbreaks so at that time no one expected what is going to happen. And while the novel virus was spreading around the Old World, we didn’t pay attention to that. We were going to school, work, events, parties, etc.
I remember the virus got my attention in mid- February when it started to spread over Iran. Since my country located in the North-Western border of Iran – I realized it is a matter of time when the virus is going to knock on the doors of people I care about. However, following the news about the spread of the virus in Europe and Asia didn’t give me any closure to see what is about to happen.
I remember receiving an email on Tuesday around 11 PM that classes on Wednesday are canceled. Then on Wednesday governor gave the order to switch into distance learning mode till the rest of the semester. Less than a week later – I received an email from my boxing gym that they are going to be closed. And in one day all the bars, cafes and restaurants have closed their doors. Some of them still deliver food, some of them won’t open ever again.
I was afraid that staying locked at home with this uncertainty of the future may trigger my PTSD. Thankfully it didn’t. At least for now. But I live in constant fear of the returning of my nightmares and painful flashbacks.
Despite all that mess in the world and my head, I am still focused on my long-term goal. I am being on top of my classes. Doing as much of my assignments as I possibly can. I even registered for summer courses in order to graduate faster. My short yet full of different events life had taught me – while our body has physical limitations, our mind doesn’t. So, the virus might be aggressive, dangerous and deadly but I won’t give up on life. I won’t let fear, anxiety, and uncertainty take over my life ever again.