Seeing that we are halfway through the semester, another round of midterms has just passed, we have just “returned” from spring break, spring is sprung-ing and a certain virus that shall remain unnamed has quite literally scattered us Blue Jays across every corner of the world, I’d say that now would be a good time to stop and do some reflecting, as we like to do here at STEM Major Survival Guide.
I don’t think I’m alone when I say that the last two weeks have kind of really sucked. True, I started on a high; I was not going to complain when three days of class were cancelled, my neuroengineering exam was made optional and seven billion deadlines that I had been suffocated by were all instantaneously pushed a week back. It took me a couple hours to realize that I should have been more careful about what I wished for — I was about to get a whole lot more than what I bargained for.
True, I realize that I could have it a lot worse, that as of now, I am definitely one of the luckier ones as this scary narrative unfolds. But that doesn’t mean that the sadness I feel about the not-as-planned ending to my year is any less legitimate.
There are things we’re all, for a lack of a better word, mourning the loss of: sports seasons, a capella concerts, Spring Fair plans, spring musicals, cherry blossom trips, design projects, lunches at Levering with our friends, the company of our roommates or even graduation. For some of us, this would have been the last time that we’d ever get to enjoy these things before frolicking off into the real world. Having the semester cut off so abruptly can really be a reminder that we have more at stake, more that we truly care about, at this school than we may have once believed.
And that’s only the beginning of our stress and grief — yes, we get to go home, but to do what? To read the news about all of the crazy things going on around the world? To fear for our own health and that of our loved ones? To quite literally be scared to leave our own homes and scared because this feels like it may never end?
If you’re like me, you probably moped around quite a bit last week, feeling a very strange mix of emotions. Feeling sorry for yourself, then feeling guilty about being sorry for yourself because you know your life could be a lot worse, and even wanting to lay in bed all day since your state is on literal lockdown and there’s really nothing else to do.
If you’re like me, through all this internal chaos and mopiness, this simple thought probably popped into your head at some point: “Now what? This is all new and different territory — how am I supposed to know what to do now?”
Well, I’ve been unmotivated before. I’ve felt grief before, of all kinds. I’ve felt scared, I’ve felt disappointed and I’ve felt fearful and uncertain about the future. Sure, the world may not have been as close to complete chaos then, but at the end of the day, sadness is sadness, fear is fear and disappointment is disappointment, no matter how intense or unexpected the onset of these feelings is.
Thinking back to it, how did I get past those emotions then? How did I survive those long stressful days, disappointing results and feelings of fear and uncertainty that I’ve felt so many different times, for so many different reasons, throughout my life?
I moped. I was sad. I lay in bed. Which is kind of what I’m doing now... But I guess I didn’t do that forever; it couldn’t have been forever, since a couple weeks ago I was literally just planning all the things I wanted to do for the second half of the semester... So what did I do after all the mopey sad stuff?
I guess I pulled a Nike and just did it; I kept going. I rolled up my sleeves, went to class, tried to do the things that made me happy, got around to doing more work at some point and eventually I kind of left the mopey sad stuff behind.
Sure, this process can take a while, and the ensuing chaos in the world around us will definitely make it harder, but that is what worked in the past, so that is what I’ll do now.
I’ll go to online class. I’ll do my best to focus on BMEing, no matter how hard it is to do so. I’ll Facetime my friends and try to find things at home to keep me happy. I’ll keep living my life to the greatest extent possible (while being responsible and keeping myself and others safe, of course) and try to fill my calendar with new things — who cares if they’re virtual, simple or far off into the future? I’ll be creative in finding things to look forward to.
Things suck, but they’ve sucked before, to all degrees and variations. So I’ll do what I’ve always done; I’ll keep going. If there’s more disappointment for me in the future, I’ll still keep going. What other option do I really have?
Take it easy. Stay safe. Be persistent — keep going. And have hope that things will get better soon, for you and everyone else around you.