The Oppy is continuing to publish submissions from members of the Stern community about how the Covid-19 Pandemic has impacted their experiences in and out of the program. If you wish to write about your own experience, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lauren Marinaro
What to do, what to do… I am sure if many of you felt this sentiment during our month and half long winter break in the middle of a pandemic.
I, myself, could often be found twiddling my thumbs, trying to keep busy so my otherwise idle mind wouldn’t dwell on my long lost DBI and plans to travel Australia and Southeast Asia… maybe Japan? It was all a dream that stayed just that.
And then I would find myself sitting in the severe guilt of feeling bad for myself when in reality my situation was perfectly fine and much better off than most other people’s around the world. And then I would tell myself it’s OK to feel a little sad for something that has deeply affected everyone on some level. And finally, to simply stop thinking, I would pour myself into various activities and then feel basic for making scented candles or braiding macrame plant holders when the world was literally falling apart and people were dying (and still are).
Sorry… That was a tad heavy for the Oppy. But I express it in the hopes that others who have felt this way won’t feel alone. While we may have felt very lost, somewhat ineffective and definitely scorned by the MBA experience that should-have-been, we are still here, we still have value to give, and we still have work to do.
This break, I poured myself into the one thing I knew I was good at that would deliver slightly more support than another set of shelves: mentoring MBA1s for consulting interviews. It was fabulous. Rather than sit in self-pity or dwell on things I had no control over (like other people not wearing masks), I could take all of that pent-up energy and focus it on our poor MBA1s. I know this sounds daunting for them, but, have no fear, the feedback was positive. My sole job was to help them identify their key strengths and boost their confidence, add clarity to their stories, and help them to structure their amazing ideas, ever so slightly.
The tides turned. Rather than feeling lost and sad, I was encouraged and inspired by those Zooming around me. I was happy to simply know such incredible individuals, with such remarkable backgrounds, experiences, and attitudes. Beyond that, by concentrating all my efforts into positive reinforcement, I started to believe it (a sort of fake it ‘til you make it). I was positively floored by these individuals and, despite the horrors going on around me, developed a sense of hope for a future led by these rock stars. With their empathy, adaptability, and ability to inspire others (including myself), the world could change if they succeeded in driving the impact they hoped to achieve.
This gave me hope. And at the end of a very long year, heading into my final semester, drowning in my own self-pity and way too many house plants, hope is what I needed. I encourage you, if you’ve felt lost, sad, scared, whatever it may be, to reach out to others and find inspiration in the attitudes and individuals in this program. It is exhilarating and a wonderful reminder of why we came here in the first place.
So that was my break, how was yours?