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Mental Health

College Post-Pandemic: You’re Not the Only One Overwhelmed

It’s no secret the pandemic has left us all feeling unsure or confused in one way or another. I entered COVID-19 times as a freshman in college, and I now find myself to be a junior at an entirely new school with a new major and career path. All I could think of when I spent my first semester at home online was how lonely and isolated I felt, and how badly I wanted to finally arrive as a transfer student and to catch up on everything I had missed out on. Now that I’ve finally come to campus in a state of almost normalcy, I’ve realized how much easier that all was to imagine rather than actually experience. 

After coming back to campus this semester, I craved human interaction more than anything. I seized every opportunity, as I felt that every invite was a chance to finally gain the college experience I had lost for a year and a half. I pushed myself academically as well — balancing two internships, a club, and setting aside daily hours to study for the LSAT on top of my five classes. I felt like I was finally living as I should have been all along, but this euphoria evidently crashed and burned as quickly as it came on.

The past few weeks I’ve felt overwhelmed to the point where I stopped putting my own health and needs first. I was lost in the feeling of what I should be doing, rather than doing what I truly needed in order to make myself happy. I hit a low, comparable to what I felt at the beginning of the pandemic, and had a sense of confusion and emptiness as to what exactly was going wrong. I had everything on paper going for me, so why was I so unhappy?

The truth is, I had been focusing far too much on the idealistic version of what I felt college should be like in my head. I put so much emphasis into believing that returning to campus would be my saving grace, while blissfully ignoring how much the pandemic has damaged all of us during its tenure. I was incredibly anxious after being thrust back into the thick of college life, and felt as though I was somehow wrong for experiencing the emotions I was.

What I’ve come to realize is that I am not alone, and that it is never “wrong” to not be at your best all the time. The pandemic has shaped all of our lives in ways that aren’t even conscious to us right now. After seeking out advice and help from my trusted friends and family members, I was taken aback (yet relieved) to find that I was far from the only one experiencing this. 

Going from 100 to 0 and back again to 100 has been jarring for all of us, and it is completely normal to feel frightened, distraught, or lost at these sudden and drastic life changes. I’ve found that what’s most important in countering this is taking care of myself first and foremost, allowing myself breathers when I need them, and acknowledging that my emotions are valid, and that there is no shame in feeling this way sometimes. 

We as people cannot be there fully for others if we ourselves are not okay first. So please, take that time to unwind, lighten your schedule if you feel it’s too much, and prioritize the activities that make you happy. Check on the people you value and care about as well. You’ll likely be as surprised as I was to see that you’re not alone in these battles.

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Maura Currie

U Mass Amherst '23

Maura is a junior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst studying communication. This is her first semester writing for HerCampus, and she is planning on venturing into either the business field or pursuing law school after graduation.
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