Ahh… the lovely sights of Sproul: bustling crowds of students walking through Sather Gate, breakfast burritos at GBC, and music. While I’m sure many of us yearned for these sights while we were stuck taking Zoom classes from our childhood bedrooms, I’m also sure that many of us are exhausted from having everything in person again.
Yes, I said it.
Being in person is confusing. Being in person is overwhelming. Being in person is difficult.
From finding classes in Dwinelle to running across campus, in-person classes definitely lead to physical exhaustion. While I love that my calf muscles are more defined, the last thing I want to do after a busy day of online lectures is run to meetings and discussion sections. Why can’t I just lay in my bed with my teddy bear, wearing pajamas all day?
Beyond the physical exhaustion, being in person also leads to social struggles. Given the lockdowns and social isolation, many of us have increased social anxiety, which makes the social aspect of college even harder. Making friends over large Zoom lectures still seems nearly impossible, and making friends when everyone puts on their earphones (music is a safe haven!) as soon as the in-person classes end is also difficult. Add pandemic-induced social anxiety to the mix and we’ve got ourselves the even bigger challenge of making friends.
On the other end of this spectrum lies the fact that we are now much more accessible to our current friends. As an international student, I can’t blame my horrendous time difference for not responding to texts or attending events anymore. There are now certain social expectations that all of us are held to in order to have “the full college experience.” This, in my opinion, leads to the perpetual struggle of time management. How are we supposed to balance a social life with our academics (and Berkeley’s grade deflation!), while also simultaneously taking time for ourselves? How does one balance free time, FOMO, and friends?
I’d like to end on a happier note though—you’re not in this alone. The majority of us are struggling with the shift back to in-person instruction. From making friends to walking across campus to going out, we’re all in this together. And I hope you remember to take some time for yourself every day. Let’s try to be empathetic towards ourselves during a time when we’re projecting much more empathy outwards in our increased social interactions.