Essay: This week has been the longest year of my life

This week has been the longest year of my life. 

Time passes differently in a pandemic world. I’m still surprised that five months have gone by since I was first sent home from GW to start virtual classes. Now, I’m on the West Coast still trying to acclimate to online classes, all while following a confusing, tiring presidential election play out on 24/7 news networks. The past week consumed me, eating up every minute of time I could have spent on school work. It feels like a year has passed. Maybe it has – who knows.  

I have stayed up all night checking CNN coverage, only to fall asleep while Nevada took its sweet time to count votes and anchor John King tapped random counties on an interactive map to pass the time. Then, I’d wake up the next morning to find out that some states had flipped overnight. Overjoyed, I’d turn to key races in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate for updates. No, I didn’t really have time for classes. But I tried to juggle it anyway. 

There’s a reason other students and I couldn’t keep up with classes this week. The next president will determine America’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and have a say in the overall trajectory of this country. The next leader will set the tone for how the country views basic human rights for people of color and the LGBTQ community. I waited in agony to be assured that Democrat Joe Biden would be that person, and I know others did too. We had midterms, exams and papers that weren’t going to write themselves, but none of that mattered until we were certain that the United States could move forward and finally begin to heal.

We lost hours of sleep refreshing news sites, spending hours deliberating how many votes had yet to be counted and which counties across the country were projected to swing which way. We agonized over which Senate races were going to be called, we debated whether or not Georgia was really going to flip, we laughed about how Nevada slowly counted ballots and we let ourselves be completely consumed by this important election. Some of us asked for extensions on papers or missed assignments and maybe even class as this election was dragged out over the week. Professors probably felt the fatigue, too, as they kept up with lessons while checking the electoral map. 

We were also reminded of the toll of the pandemic, again. The United States recorded record-breaking coronavirus infection rates this week, reaching a new high of 125,000 daily coronavirus infections. Amid an election where many feel as if democracy is on the line, we also had to deal with and remember that we are in a pandemic that is just getting worse. While watching the news and fearing for the state of democracy, half my mind was angered by the country’s pandemic response and the other half was trying desperately to remember what day it was in case I had something due in class. 

While ballots are still being counted and we await a concession from President Donald Trump, I can finally sigh in relief that this week is finally over. Democracy did its job, and we must take our win in stride and rest easier knowing that some of the battle is finally over. It’s time for us to get back to class, turn in our assignments and look forward to a better America. It wouldn’t hurt if professors cut us a break while we catch up on sleep, too. 

Biden is our president-elect and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., will make history as the first female, Black and Asian-American vice president-elect. Our week filled with anxiety, handwringing and stressed out posts on Twitter has all come down to this. 

At the end of the day, this week has been filled with highs and lows and major anxiety for anyone as glued to the news as I was. But the week is over now, we must take a deep breath and remember that we need to take care of our physical and mental well-being. While this election has been all-consuming, seeping into every moment we had this week, we are nearing the end and must remember what it is that we need to be doing: We have homework to do, exams to study for and most importantly, a lot of sleep to catch up on. 

Hannah Thacker, a junior majoring in political communication, is the opinions editor.

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