How COVID-19 Has Triggered My Anxiety By Limiting My Motivation, Control & Creativity

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed my everyday routine in drastic ways. Rather than dragging myself out of bed and grabbing an iced coffee at B-Cafe before class, I now wake up, turn my video camera off and watch my lecture in my pajamas. By moving classes online, many students, including myself, were forced to go back home. Learning and studying at home with the presence of my overbearing parents can be mentally taxing, and without the physical presence of peers and friends, I often feel unmotivated and tired. The pandemic took away the essence of being a college student and a creative individual by throwing many into a place that they do not feel comfortable in. Learning became more and more difficult as the sudden transition from in-class lectures to online left many professors and students bewildered and frankly unprepared. Without seeing the professors in person through physical office hours or even the ability to speak with them after class makes it almost impossible to build a personal connection with them. 

However, these challenges of online instruction were expectations I had already anticipated when UCLA moved online. What I did not expect was the overwhelming feeling of post-grad anxiety---especially because I have not graduated yet. There is even a part of me that feels guilty for feeling such apprehension for my future professional outlook; there are so many seniors displaced into this unknown job market. If I feel this much worry about the standing of my own career development, I could only imagine the anxiety of the college class of 2020. Despite this guilt, I still feel that my fast track to success is in jeopardy, and I worry about my future. What worries me the most is the loss of opportunity and missed milestones that I was supposed to experience my junior year and summer for my professional advancement.

Internship. Grad school. Job. These are some of the things that cause college graduates to fret and stress about their career aspirations. The reality after college is competitive and cutthroat, and many students such as myself break their backs forging a pristine and extraordinary resume. I was taught that great grades, extracurriculars and work ethic will serve as a backbone to prepare me for the “real world”. The post-grad anxiety was supposed to wait until, well, post-graduation. However, due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, college students were forced into remote online learning, with many internships, jobs and creaive opportunities vanishing into thin air.

World globeMy plans of a summer internship disintegrated as many employers canceled their programs outright. The sensation of hustling through the bustling streets to reach the office, interacting and creating bonds with fellow interns or soaking up valuable experience from being present and available seems to be a lost cause. As a rising senior, I wanted to obtain experience as well as bolster my resume through hands-on experience. In addition to experience, I really needed an internship this summer to give me a competitive chance for grad school acceptance. The feeling of not doing enough makes me wonder if I am qualified for many of my post-grad aspirations.

I feel that the most pressing feeling of anxiety that the COVID-19 pandemic ensues within me is a lack of control. I feel this lack of control with my education and career advancements as everything is being canceled or halted. I used to believe that the outcome of my success was the result of the work and effort I would put into my projects. I worked hard to get into UCLA, to build my resume by joining journalistic organizations and to present myself professionally to recruiters. College was a place where I was supposed to blossom, and I feel like I have been stunted. There is no positive outcome or conclusion I have yet come to; I still feel very unmotivated and anxious for what is to come. I constantly wonder if life will write itself into a story that is meant to be, or if 6 years from now I will find myself at a low paying job with little room for advancement. The truth is there is no way to know, just like how nobody would have known the effect the COVID-19 virus would have on our way of life. 

Unfortunately, I cannot bring myself to leave this article on a positive note. This weird cloud of pre-post-grad anxiety and depression is something I am still struggling to deal with. There is nothing more I would love to do than to learn how to snap myself out of this strange haze. Maybe my personal brand of this funk has mild symptoms of imposter syndrome because the truth is I have always had this looming in the back of my mind. This could just be how the quarantine is effecting me, as all this time has left me with nothing but my own thoughts and the opportunity to overthink my unique situation.

Despite these feelings, I have found it helpful to escape these emotions by taking a deep breath and taking a moment to watch an exciting new series I have been keeping up with, or scrolling through relatable memes on Twitter to remind myself that I am not alone in my feelings. I definitely know that I cannot be alone with my class of 2021 in the crazy mixed-up emotions the stay at home order has awakened. If you have been feeling the same way about the impending prospect of the future, I encourage you to reach out to friends and other loved ones who might understand what you are going through. Just remember, when things get too overwhelming, watching a funny quarantine-related TikTok can never hurt.