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Lessons I Learned In The Past Year From Taking Online College Classes

Another school year has come to an end! I would have never predicted that students all over the world would have to go through a year of school completely online. Balancing the Zoom meetings, lectures and readings along with everything else going on in the world was a struggle, to say the least. However, my full school year online did end up highlighting many life lessons that I reflected on and that others might relate too as well. Despite it all, I’m grateful that this year gave me a different mindset and allowed me to learn more about myself. 

Lesson 1: There’s no need to rush, what’s meant to be will happen

This pandemic has really shown me that for most of my life, I was so concerned with working towards my future that I didn’t necessarily live in the present. To be honest, I’m not completely sure what lies ahead. Even though it can be frustrating to not have it all figured out, that’s okay because no one really does. This year taught me that everyone has their own timeline. I’ve always had this mindset that I’m running out of time, or that I have to be productive or else I’m just wasting time. This can be so exhausting, especially in a pandemic where finding the energy for school is already difficult. I hated how I spent most hours of the day sitting at a desk in my room for hours. Taking a mental health day to indulge in self-care shouldn’t make me or anyone else feel guilty. We’re all going at our own pace and eventually we’ll get there, but in the meantime we need to breathe. 

Lesson 2: The success of others isn’t your failure

During this year, I found it harder than ever to find motivation to complete my assignments. I often found myself on social media to cope and pass the time. Social media can be an illusion as people present the best sides of themselves. However, it can be discouraging to see others living how you want to, and thriving in all aspects of their lives when you feel as if you aren’t progressing. Once again, people accomplish things on different timelines and life isn’t a competition or race. Of course I already knew this, but during the pandemic, it definitely clouded my judgement and put me in a more negative mindset. I felt completely stuck in a predicament that I didn’t want to be in. However, I learned to stop giving comparison the power to steal my joy or confidence. Now, seeing others’ success motivates me to want to do the same, especially people from my community. Other people’s wins aren’t your loss, but it can show you what’s possible.


A room with books and a candle
Photo by Alisa Anton from Unsplash

Lesson 3: Celebrate the small victories 

We had to deal with all the responsibilities of being students while living in a time of isolation, uncertainty, and civil unrest. Any progress made should be celebrated, no matter how small. Let’s be honest, it’s brutal out here so simply making it through the day is a win itself. I’ve developed the mindset that even though I may have procrastinated on reading or finishing an assignment, at least it got completed. It’s important to hype yourself up and give yourself the care and attention that you would give to others. Treat yourself and be proud of how hard you’re trying, especially when you’re functioning in a time where everything is anything but normal. So eat that snack and take that break because it’s well deserved. 

Lesson 4: Be kinder to yourself

This year taught me that I’m more resilient than I give myself credit for. Online school took a toll on us all, and throughout all the stress, I still managed to keep my grades up and complete what needed to be done. In the past, I used to frequently second guess myself and my abilities when in reality, I am more than capable of meeting demands. I think it’s important that we be kinder to ourselves. Even if certain things didn’t go as planned, we are all growing, healing and discovering ourselves. We’ve made it through all these obstacles, and that’s a testament to our capability and power. 

Lesson 5: The simplest things can mean the most  

I’ve learned that the smallest things can make my day. The pandemic definitely made it much more difficult for us to keep in contact. Investing time into those that truly deserve it and making an effort to seek out communities that you can connect with is something I’ve been working on and want to do more of. As an introvert, it is not easy but sometimes breaking out of your comfort zone can be so rewarding. It’s the main reason that I am writing this now after finding an incredible community at Her Campus. After a long day, something as simple as going for a bike ride, listening to my favorite playlist, checking in with friends or getting to vent with other students can make my day. It’s moments like these when even though I feel so isolated, I’m reminded that I’m not alone. For the first time, I’ve more actively seeked communities and opportunities to foster new and old relationships because no one should have to suffer in silence. It was the simplest things that gave me hope and energy to carry on throughout this year.

As the world transitions to a new normal, I intend to remember these lessons moving forward as life throws more surprises our way. 

Kayla Atkinson

UC Irvine '23

Hello everyone! My name is Kayla Atkinson and I am a second year majoring psychology and sociology. In my free time, I enjoy listening to music, binging Netflix and reading a good book. I hope you enjoy my work!
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