Keep Your Focus
Along with a lot of college students, I returned to school in late August after being sent home early in mid-March. Even though returning to school is all I have wanted to do since March, it felt like move-in day came up quickly and almost caught me off guard. I moved into a suite with six of my friends after not really socializing with many people for six months. I signed up for a new job on campus as a tour guide as well as different clubs outside of my four classes. It took me these two weeks to completely set up my room because - if I am being totally honest - I was expecting to get sent home quickly.
Though I am sure that being out of class for six months is not helping my lack of focus, the events around the country feel big enough that it does not matter. I want to be doing anything other than my homework when there are crucial things grappling for attention through social media and news outlets.
Black Lives Matter protests are still going on around the country, there are fires raging on the West Coast so huge that the ash they have produced reached Vermont a few days ago, the November election is creeping closer and closer while simultaneously nearly 200,000 people have been left dead from Coronavirus. These four issues just scratch the surface of all the subjects circulating right now, but even these four are daunting. With that being said, my statistics class seems trivial.
But after two weeks, I have found my mindset improving because I have been able to reorient my focus.
It is not always a matter of what I “could” be doing, but rather what I “should” be doing. As difficult as it is to accept, at some point, everyone reaches their limit on different things they can be oriented towards. It is up to every individual to find that limit for themselves and to put their own mental and emotional health first. By no means does this mean anyone should become apathetic toward their passions or things they find important, but to instead be accommodating of their humanness.
For example, I can put my energy towards educating myself on the racial issues happening right now and simultaneously get my statistics homework done without burning myself out, but the more I add, the less effort and focus I have for each thing. It is not about the quantity but the quality of the work that we put into the world.
I should put my energy into making myself a better citizen, a better person, without stretching myself too thin. I can control my actions, my words, my intentions. I can control who I vote for, where I donate, and how I live. However, everybody is different; some people can handle more, some can handle less.
With information bombarding us through our news outlets and social media, we have to be aware that these are not individual issues but systemic ones. We can all do our part in our own way and make impacts in our own lives without putting pressure on ourselves to change the world.
I urge all my fellow college students, many who feel as though the world rests on their shoulders, to keep your focus. Focus on the things you can control and allow yourself the leeway to let go of the things you cannot. Make sure you have time for yourself outside of politics and pandemics, and always keep perspective.