Reflecting on My Winter Quarter

I don’t normally reflect on my quarters, although I do try to process what I’ve achieved. I only briefly acknowledge them and then quickly move on. I don’t take the time to really think and reflect on how much I got done, how much I’ve grown and how much I may have struggled. However, I feel as though these times in quarantine are as good as any to do some self-reflection.

Goals and Growth

I started this winter quarter with a more productive mindset and positive attitude; however the short winter break was not enough for me to process fall quarter, so I felt I was on overdrive. It seemed like I didn’t even get a break to properly reset and prepare for the quarter and the new year, but I still made sure to make some goals for myself. Not taking enough breaks and finding motivation were my biggest challenges in the fall quarter. Without motivation, I found myself putting things off, in turn creating more hassle for my future self, which would then hate my past self for procrastinating, and thus create a very unhealthy cycle. So I made it a goal to overcome these challenges as I started winter quarter. I made a promise to myself that I would stay on top of all my schoolwork and get things done a few days before they were due so as to relieve any unnecessary stress and pressure from procrastination. However, I would also make sure to take time to reset and give my mind a break by playing the piano for a bit, going outside to read in the sun, or making myself a snack. Setting these goals helped to give me the motivation and drive to start the quarter off strong, and maintain that momentum. 

goals, coffee, notebook Photo by Estée Janssens from Unsplash

Outside of these academic goals, I wanted to become more involved at UCI because I felt like I was missing the social aspect of virtual college life. I wanted to meet new people and explore different interests. During fall quarter, I attended the virtual Anteater Involvement Fair, where I found the Women in Leadership (WIL) club, and later ended up applying for their internship program for this quarter. Being a part of WIL and their amazing community motivated me to get even more involved, so I attended the Anteater Involvement Fair for the winter quarter and came across Her Campus at UCI. I’ll admit I was hesitant to join at first, largely because I doubted myself and wasn’t confident that I would be able to write articles. However, after going to HCUCI’s orientation, I found that there were so many great opportunities for me, so I took a step outside my comfort zone and joined. Everyone at Her Campus was so welcoming and open, it made me more comfortable and confident writing articles on various topics. Stepping outside my comfort zone combined with the freedom and inspiration given to me by HCUCI, allowed me to grow as an individual and especially as a writer. I also grew a lot during my internship with WIL, where I grew as a professional. I learned so much about developing my professional skills such as strengthening my resume and improving communication, which is incredibly valuable and something I will take with me in the future. By being involved in these organizations, I learned to have more confidence in myself, especially in what I can achieve and in how much I can grow in a relatively short amount of time. These clubs helped me immensely during this quarter as they kept me grounded and enabled me to focus on self-growth, which is extremely important in times of quarantine!

Struggles and Challenges

It has been over a year since we went into lockdown and made the switch to virtual classes, which actually helped me become more focused on my studies. Being away from the dorms meant less distractions for me and more time to focus on myself, especially since I had dormed in a quad. Quarantine made me less distracted and more productive, but at what expense? Although this past school year has been my best academically, I would say it’s been one of the most challenging mentally and emotionally. I went from a very social, active, bubbly environment on campus to being back home with my parents in isolation from the rest of the world. It felt very lonely, as I’m sure many people can relate to, but it was all the uncertainty that was affecting me the most. Not knowing when I would be able to see my family and friends again or when we could return to normal life was unbearable. I was productive and focused, but isolated, anxious and uncertain. There was seemingly no end in sight for the pandemic, so I began to lose hope and had to accept that being in quarantine was our normal now. 

woman sitting in front of Macbook Photo by energepic.com from Pexels

The one year anniversary of being in lockdown fell during this winter quarter, which isn’t exactly something to celebrate, but it made me think about how it has impacted me and it also inspired me to write this self-reflection. All throughout fall quarter and at the beginning of winter quarter, I felt as though the pandemic was constantly taking more of my energy, motivation and hope as each day passed. The uncertainty followed me into this quarter and threatened to weigh me down since I was really missing social interaction and needed some kind of break or escape from reality. I’m spending so much time on my studies, mostly because I have nothing else to do; however I still need that social interaction that I thrived on pre-covid times. Of course, I wasn’t going to give in to this quarantine fatigue by breaking the guidelines, so I made sure to do more virtual game nights and Netflix parties with my friends this quarter. My involvement in clubs and having an internship has also helped me with getting over quarantine fatigue since it allowed me to meet new people and get even more (virtual) social interaction. All the weekly meetings provided a constant that grounded me and helped me get through the weeks. It was during winter quarter that I felt I was finally getting enough breaks and social interaction. I felt more content and whole as I overcame my struggles and found the balance between my academics and my mental and emotional health. Additionally, hearing the updates on the vaccination process in the past few weeks has given me more hope and certainty as there is finally an end in sight for this quarantine.

The pandemic has hit us all quite hard, so I imagine I’m not alone in the struggles I’ve faced this quarter and past year. That being said, I believe many of us have also grown in the face of so much change and struggle. These times have truly tested us and forced us to rethink how we live our lives and make the most of it. I had to rethink how I would live out my college life from home, how I could maintain good academics and how I could make up for everything I was missing. This thinking helped me take advantage of all the opportunities at UCI by going to the Anteater Involvement Fair and joining clubs. It helped me set new goals for myself and actually follow through with them. I was able to achieve the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the quarter, which I’m really proud of because these goals ultimately allowed me to get through my struggles and find balance. I grew so much more than I thought, and I feel like I didn't give myself enough credit for it until now. It’s interesting how we are living through a future history lesson, and how being in this pandemic provides a good lesson for all of us now. It has taught me to remain strong and adaptable, and I learned that I am capable of growth even in most strangest circumstances. I look forward to what next quarter will bring, and I hope that everyone is staying safe and healthy!