As the semester dwindles down into a cluster of final exams, projects, holidays, and daylight savings, a mountain of stress and a spell of annoyingly persistent exhaustion is cast upon students. Many of us just want to hit the pillow, not the books, for a few weeks before coming back, but let’s give ourselves credit where credit is due.
Fall 2021 marked the first “normal” semester back on campus since the world was turned upside down on Mar. 13, 2020. Being transported from dorm rooms to our childhood rooms was not easy; it made a major impact on our grades, social life, and mental health.
Transitioning back to campus life has been jarring to say the least. We’re back in full classrooms wearing masks, exams are being taken in-person with a proctor watching your every move, and small group discussions are occurring inches away from each other rather than through 13-inch laptop screens.
Nobody explicitly laid out the expectation that everyone should snap back to normal once the semester kicked off. However, the message lingered as events slowly transitioned back to in-person and vaccines became widely available. There has not been much time to properly grieve on how turbulent Mar. 2020 to now has been.
The expectation that students, faculty, and staff would snap back to normal after almost two years of a new reality is naive, and it’s okay to admit that. The world was forced into change blindly, and as humans do, we made do with the uppercut hits that were thrown at us and adapted.
People are eager to return back to normalcy, but rushing into it by going to the bar or clubs maskless while the pandemic is still ongoing may be overwhelming, especially after going from isolation to social butterflies who get the fear of missing out.
This reminder to pace yourselves is not meant to throw us all back to the beginning days of quarantine, where life could not be lived in a public way, but to serve as a reminder of where we came from and how that impacts where we stand today.
Returning back to normal pre-COVID-19 is what people seek, but take a moment to reflect where you were before Mar. 2020, and look at how much you’ve changed and grown in one of the most difficult experiences we may ever have to face.
Adapting the new ways of life into our new normal is awesome. Meetings can be done from the comfort of your own home, work can be done in a stress-free environment, and mask wearing protects you from pesky colds, flus, and viruses.
There are so many little things to celebrate as we reach the end of the first semester back on campus. Slow down and give yourself grace. This past year and a half proves we can overcome any obstacle put in front of us.
It’s a stressful time right now, but take time for some self-care, put your mental health first, which is one of the lessons this pandemic continues to teach us, and finish this semester. You’ve got this, The Leader believes in and supports you.