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Reaching for the Light at the End of the Tunnel

With finals coming up right around the corner, the curtains are falling on a tumultuous past year of school (or more accurately, Zoom University). Vaccines are being distributed throughout the U.S., so it seems like the constantly looming COVID threat is finally reaching its final act as well. Things are coming to an end (for the better, I think). Now that light is shining through from the end of this seemingly endless tunnel, I figured it’d be a nice time to reflect and also look forward to the future. 

For the majority of people, myself included, the past year has been difficult, to say the least. There have been a wide variety of experiences, ranging from horrible to decent. I’d say I fall somewhere in the middle of the pack — it was not a good time, but I’m also extremely thankful that it wasn’t worse. My struggles were mostly mental, and because of that, I want to remind everyone that however you’ve coped with the pandemic is completely valid, because I need to hear it myself. I often feel like I’ve wasted away the past year of my life doing absolutely nothing but feeling overwhelmingly sad and lonely and just barely getting by some days. I felt like I accomplished nothing and actually regressed in various aspects of my life. There was no end in sight and it didn’t seem like we’d ever make it out on the other side, and I felt like a mess a lot of the time. 

sad and alone girl breakup
Photo by _Mxsh_ from Unsplash

It’s OK. Really. It’s OK if you didn’t do as much as you wanted to, or couldn’t bring yourself to do anything for days on end, or ate too much food. Be proud of yourself for enduring it all until now. Everything you’ve done ultimately brought you here, and things are finally looking up, so give yourself a pat on the back. It might feel like your life has been put on pause since last year, but I promise, you’ve done more than you might realize during this time. You’ve experienced new things (living through a pandemic, for one), discovered more about yourself, and grown in ways that you never would’ve imagined. Things have changed, and it might not have been in the way you necessarily wanted. But from here, it’s a journey of learning to treasure those little moments of joy that happened along the way, while moving forward after the disappointing and straight up terrible ones.

I know we’re probably all pretty burnt out from this school year and the pandemic, but we’re so close to the end. Stay strong for these last few weeks of school by making sure to keep things in perspective and avoid overwhelming yourself. Things are looking better, so keep your head up. Onward, to the light!

Karen Li

UC Berkeley '24

Hi! I'm Karen (but not a Karen), and I'm a sophomore studying computer science. When I'm not having an existential crisis, I enjoy swimming, reading, journaling, hanging out with my dog, and binging TV shows. I'm super excited to finally be in person this semester, and I'm looking forward to meeting people and having a good time!
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