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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCF chapter.

When I was in high school, I was your typical academic overachiever: I had straight As, took all Honors and AP classes and always worked as hard as I could on all my assignments. 

Now, I’m a second-year college student, and just the thought of opening any of my textbooks requires at least ten minutes of mental prep. Gone are the days of me hustling to be the best, or at least feel like it. All I want to do is get a decent grade and be done.

If you ask me to pinpoint when everything changed, I would say during senior year. I was a senior during the spring of 2020, but even before the pandemic hit us with online learning, I felt utterly discouraged at the thought of school. I would blame it on taking too many challenging classes, but I also went through some personal experiences which made me emotionally exhausted.

Then, March 2020 hit us. When we had to go fully virtual, I couldn’t care less about essays or assignments. It felt preposterous having to sit through an entire quarter when the world was turned completely upside down. All the willpower to learn and study was gone.

Online classes were both the best and worst thing that could’ve happened to me. On the downside, I hated not being able to socialize with my peers, and I felt so unmotivated having to teach myself everything. On the other hand, it took off the pressure to know everything. 

Except for math classes, I no longer had to spend hours worrying about what would be on the test: I just needed my notebook or my textbook by my side.

I know this doesn’t make me special: thousands, if not millions of students around the world, probably have felt like this at some point during the past two years. 

Navigating academics these past years has been demanding. I want to go back to my old work ethic: taking notes, listening intently in class and studying diligently. However, it’s just not as simple. It’s a constant battle between who I used to be and how easily I want to finish everything. I want it to be high-quality, but I also don’t have the same focus I once had.

Even when it comes to in-person classes, I don’t feel as motivated as I thought. I can no longer blame online courses for my discouragement. Something in me changed, and education and I are no longer as close as we were for a big part of my life.

It’s bizarre for me to see education and academics like this. Being a good student was such a big part of who I was for so long. It’s not that I can’t do well in my classes anymore. It’s just that I feel as if I completely lost myself as a student.

I have always loved going to school. I realize that sounds nerdy, but it was mostly enjoyable for me. For the first time, I feel like I hate school. Education has never felt so mentally draining. I don’t know if it’s because college is tiring or because the pandemic messed me up. Either way, it hasn’t been easy.

However, I still power through. I’ve realized that I probably can’t go back to the high school version of me who could handle three tests and four assignments due the same day. College is hard, and many things have changed for me over these years. 

It might not always feel like it, but I’m still trying my best, even if my best looks different now.

Ana Sofía Saavedra is a senior at the University of Central Florida, majoring in advertising and public relations. She likes to spend her time, making bracelets and headbands, watching TV shows, and obsessing over books.