Open Circle: a stabilizing force during COVID-19
by Sowmithree Ragothaman, student
As a student, COVID-19 has been difficult to deal with. I think the best comparison I can make is when you listen to a song where the notes are just slightly off-beat; it hasn’t massively changed my life (thankfully), but there’s a sense that something is not right. It has made me realize just how many things I took for granted: going out with my friends, visiting new establishments in my city, stopping to have friendly chats with others, and just generally being in the warmth of someone else’s presence. It’s also strange to not have much “going on”— no extra-curriculars and no events has made me feel lost and directionless at times. Open Circle, however, is a stabilizing force in my life.
I think that many of us can speak to feeling isolated and lonely at this time, and it’s important to have a space (beyond the ones we physically live in) where we always feel welcome. Even though it’s virtual, Open Circle has continued to be that space for me. The transition has been so seamless that I can enter a Zoom call with 15 other people and I can feel reassured that they’re truly there for me, even if we’ve never met in person. Open Circle has created such an open, compassionate atmosphere where we can freely have a conversation about our feelings and hopes and dreams and everything in-between. The reflection circles and courses have also been extremely helpful for me in terms of understanding just what those hopes and dreams are, and how I can incorporate them in my quest to live an authentic, fulfilling life. In addition, virtual circles have actually introduced me to lots of new friends, who I now chat with regularly outside of Open Circle spaces. In a world where COVID-19 has limited our ability to connect physically, Open Circle is helping to fill the gaps and facilitate that human connection that many of us have been longing for. Attending anything Open Circle-related is practically guaranteed to boost my mood, and I’m so grateful to be a part of this wonderful group and share in it with others!