By Dylan Manfre
People are deploying every coping mechanism possible to deal with the unknown that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) brought upon the world.
Victoria Toomey, a freshman center on the women’s basketball team, started a blog called “In The Clouds,” where she has been open about her own mental health struggles and navigating college. Writing is her way of making sense of the “new normal.”
Toomey wants her blog to be more of a lifestyle website where she documents what is on her mind and said her target audience is college students or whoever finds her content beneficial.
“Freshman year, especially second semester freshman year, is hard for anyone,” Toomey said via Zoom. “I started to lose interest in a lot of stuff and for me, that’s not normal … I guess I was in just a negative mindset.”
Since the global pandemic gave her more time to spend with her family, that she would not otherwise have because of basketball, Toomey found the extra push to publish her thoughts on topics that are important to her.
“Over the past few years, I’ve always thought about [starting a blog]… it’s kind of like a virtual diary… It kind of got to the point where OK, now that I have the time to do it, maybe it’s time,’ and just take the final push.”
She never designed a website before so she used Squarespace, a web-building site, to construct the layout. Toomey fiddled back and forth on possible names with her cousin Molly until they came up with “In the Clouds.”
“Some bring stormy weather. Others paint the sky. Some bring pain and devastation while others can be the most beautiful sight you have ever seen. In the end, the sky always clears,” Toomey wrote in her introduction post.
“My point is that no matter who you are, your journey makes you into that person. Sometimes we have to weather the storm, in order to appreciate the light when the sun comes back out. My inspiration comes from the clouds and I think it is important to look up every now and then when the road straight ahead is daunting.”
Writing is a way Toomey can express herself. She has written in numerous diaries, but nothing ever saw the public eye. She wants people to know it is OK not to be OK.
“It’s definitely important, like for me with the blog, just to let people know it’s OK to have that conversation and to share with people what you’re going through,” Toomey said. “You should be proud for what you’ve made it through… if something that I went through relates to something that’s going on in the world… I definitely want to express that it’s OK to talk about that stuff.”
It took Toomey years to gain the confidence to share her thoughts. She wrote in addition to the diaries, she penned “four-page books,” when she was younger.
But when it came to sharing her own personal struggles, she believed nobody would care what she had to say.
“My concern for a long time was: ‘Who cares what you have to say?’” Toomey wrote in her first post. “That inner dialogue was there every time I read a blog post of an influencer with a big audience. I would immediately shut my idea down. Who would actually want to read about my life?”
Since her site launched on April 14, Toomey has received an outpouring of support from her family, teammates and coaches. Her post entitled “Hi there!” reached almost 1,000 views.
The Rider women’s basketball account retweeted Toomey’s post to its nearly 4,500 followers. Head Coach Lynn Milligan shared the blog as well.
Freshman guard Sophia DeMauro posted on Instagram encouraging others to check out her teammate’s blog and commended Toomey’s courage for sharing about her struggles.
“I thought [the posts] were amazing,” DeMauro said via FaceTime. “I like how she talked about, in the first post, of the meaning of ‘In the Clouds.’ … she just has a way of describing what that means and it can be an inspiration to someone else reading it.”
DeMauro lives on Staten Island, New York, an area where COVID-19 had infected just over 10,000 people as of April 19, according to the New York City Health Department.
She said reading Toomey’s posts helped her find some happiness during this dark time.
“She sums it up really great and I think it’s really great to read while we’re all trapped in the house anyway,” DeMauro said. “She has a lot to write about.”
She thinks that Toomey’s blog ultimately will help others as well.
“Some people when they go through something they keep it in, this is a good way to let out whatever she is thinking about the book she’s reading or whatever she’s doing at home,” DeMauro said. “She can write it in this blog and it can help somebody else reading it.”
Toomey plans on writing posts about how she spends her time in quarantine and things to do inside. She said her younger sister Ciera makes great music playlists and that may be a future blog post too.
Maybe it is a good idea to take a step back from everything going on and look up in the clouds like Toomey does.
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