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This article has been surprisingly difficult to write. Usually, I love writing for Her Campus–I bring my laptop to a coffee shop every Sunday afternoon, sit down, and write until I’m happy with what I’ve produced. I write about art, about what’s happening in my life, what I’m excited for and about. It’s the best kind of outlet to make sense of what’s going on in my brain and to share it with people who might relate. That’s not to say I don’t ever run into writer’s block: I’m very well acquainted with the feeling of a blank Word doc and an approaching deadline. But this time, getting past those first few words has felt insurmountable.

It’s so strange to return to a place that feels so much like home and to experience it so differently. I’m beyond grateful to be back in Boston, and I know I am so lucky to be in my current situation. But I miss the feeling of a crowded T car; the bustle of Comm Ave on a school day; the feeling of squeezing all of your friends into a tiny dorm room for a late-night movie. Most of all, I miss the excitement of starting a school year. Everything usually feels so fresh and fun. I love meeting my professors, going to intro meetings for clubs, and seeing everyone again after the long summer months. This first day felt nothing like that. All of my classes are on Zoom this year and, while I much prefer virtual classes at this point in order to keep everyone safe, I didn’t expect them to feel so hard. The energy just isn’t the same when we can’t meet in person. I admire my professors so much for trying to make the best of a tough situation, and they really have brought so much enthusiasm to every one of my classes. But sitting in my south campus apartment, trying my best to focus on the tiny box that is my professor explaining syllabus week material, I just can’t get as excited as I usually would be.  

As an optimist, I’m usually excellent at looking on the bright side of things. Typically, my mind would be focused on the fact that I’m finally back in Boston! I’m rooming with one of my best friends and living just down the street from the other. And, having all three of us in the same state again has been wonderful. I’ve been lucky enough to see my partner pretty often as well, and having him around makes everything going on right now feel much less overwhelming. I’m taking classes I’m excited about. I’m healthy and safe, and the people I love are too.  But with everything that 2020 has thrown at us, I just can’t find it in me to be excited. I miss dressing up and going out! I miss concerts! I miss when the city felt so alive you couldn’t help but feel energized as you walked down the street. I miss hockey games and crowds and run-ins with strangers and all of the little things that make non-virtual social interaction so special. 

It’s hard to write a Her Campus article when it feels like the world has been put on pause. It’s hard to even feel like Her Campus has started again when I can’t see the incredible people who make this club so special to me in person. But, after making it this far, I’m not about to let 2020 crush my optimistic outlook just yet. 

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I’ve decided that my goal for 2020 is simply to allow myself to feel whatever I’m feeling, and know that that’s okay. It’s really hard to be optimistic sometimes! And I’m not always going to have the energy to write fun listicles or serious pieces. I could add to the enormous list of advice on how to stay optimistic/productive/happy/excited during COVID times, but I think, instead, I’m just going to say: it’s okay to take a day to miss the way things were before. Dwelling on the past doesn’t get you anywhere, but ignoring it and forcing yourself forward doesn’t either. When you run out of tv shows and you’ve got too much banana bread to justify baking again, sometimes a self-care day is all that will work. I’m going to work on making my virtual classes more exciting. I think things like making yourself a nice breakfast, treating yourself to takeout from a coffee shop, or waking up early to experiment with some fun fashion looks can make your day feel a little more special. There is still plenty of time in 2020 to make some incredibly happy memories.  

I started this article sitting on a picnic blanket in the Commons with some of my favorite people. We were listening to music, and it was just cool enough to need a sweater. I witnessed two beautiful weddings in the park, and there were so many cute dogs around that it felt unreal. It was truly an amazing afternoon.

Despite everything else going on, I am reminded of how grateful I am to be right here, making the most of a year that hasn’t been so easy. These are the moments that make this wildly unconventional school year worth it. Take care of yourselves, Her Campus <3 

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Jules is a junior at Boston University studying English with a minor in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her hobbies include drinking too much iced coffee (even in Boston winters), going to concerts, tap dancing, and creative writing. Find her on insta @jules.bulafka !
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