Sometimes it seems there will be no end to this pandemic. Yet, we have normalized it now and expected everyone to go on with their lives and not think too much about it. But not thinking about something doesn’t mean it’s not there. It’s there. And it might be affecting you more than you think. When I got COVID-19 back in March of last year, I was sick for three or four weeks. I was weak and lethargic for a couple months after too. I barely got all my work in for the end of that semester and felt like a failure. But the reality was that I had been sick and had lasting brain fog that made it hard to complete my school work at the high standard that I had always strived for. And yet I felt angry at myself. Sometimes I still do when I get overwhelmed from school work and find myself breaking down in tears.
I always thought senior year was going to be great. I knew I would have stress from a capstone project and internship that I needed to graduate, but I never anticipated just how hard it all would really be. And I’m not alone. Many of my friends talk about problems they have such as extra stress, depression and anxiety related to the pandemic and our inability to socialize like we used to. It’s not that I’ve never been stressed before. There have been plenty of semesters with stress-filled finals, midterms, essays and projects. But back then there was a balance. That balance included being able to see friends and go out on the weekends. It involved breaks where we could all go somewhere and get our minds off school for a week. But that’s gone now.
Unfortunately, this pandemic has dragged on far longer than any one of us may have hoped. I keep feeling like my productivity has gone down during the pandemic, and my school work seems harder to do than before. I have no doubt all of us are feeling this. Whether you have school stress or work stress, it’s more difficult than before. It’s also hard to stare at a computer screen all day. And I miss the days I would go to Union Court to eat with my friends while doing homework. It’s also hard to constantly have to quarantine. I’ve had to quarantine four times now for coming in contact with a person who had COVID-19. It all takes a toll. And that toll is on our mental health.
By writing this I just want to say to everyone that I see you and I understand what you are going through. And your struggle is as valid as everyone else’s. Though life lately feels a lot harder than it should, one day this pandemic will end and we will be back to our old ways. But until then, rest, relax and give yourself a break. Let your teachers know you are struggling and get help if you need to, or reach out to a friend to vent. I know that always helps me. But sometimes doing all of that still doesn’t take away the struggles we face. I’ve been meditating more than ever before and sometimes it works, but sometimes my brain just won’t let go of the stress it’s holding onto, no matter how hard I try. But I remind myself that it always gets better. So keep your head up. Stop beating yourself up over a bad grade or unproductive work week. You are more important than any task you have to do. To any teachers, understand that your students might not be lazy if their work isn’t the standard that it used to be. We are all in this together, and it’s time we remember our empathy for each other is more important than any grade ever will be.
Photo courtesy of TNH Staff.