Dear college students,
In case no one told you, I am proud of you for finishing this semester. I know that it probably didn't go the way you expected. This semester has been more than tough between online classes, family situations, health issues, financial problems, mental health problems, and many more setbacks. I am sure that you spent long days and nights feeling trapped—longing for all this mess to end. When I say I am proud of you, I genuinely mean it because this was not easy in any way.
Don't feel bad because you wish you could have done more. Let me tell you that you did the best you could while going through a terrible situation. I am sure that many times you had no more energy and motivation left to connect to a class meeting, but you still got up and joined the class, even when your brain was telling you it couldn't take it anymore. I know that you often felt misunderstood by your friends and family, who happened to think online classes are a joke. I am sure that a lot of times you felt frustrated by a grade on an exam or assignment for which you did your best, but it still wasn't "enough”. Often, you might have felt that, no matter how hard you tried, it simply was not enough.
Before the pandemic and online classes started, college was hard. These circumstances have now made college a larger challenge. You will always have good weeks and terrible weeks. Good professors and bad professors. Good grades and bad grades. Yet, this semester might have seemed like things were always leaning towards the negative side of things.
Maybe at the beginning of this semester, you were motivated, or at least you made yourself motivated. But it has been more than challenging to stay like that, and you are not the one to blame if you feel that you lost all that motivation along the way. The truth is that we have all pushed ourselves beyond what we are supposed to go through.
There is also the pain of feeling like life is not what you expected. You might feel as if you are not living your college years the way you would like. Some of you might have never spent a day on campus because you began with online classes. You might not be able to share and create memories with your friends.I am sure you must be missing those failed study sessions with your friends. Those Thursday nights spent having fun and meeting new people. And those spontaneous, funny moments and memories on campus. Maybe you have even lost friendships and relationships due to the distance. You might not have been able to achieve some academic and personal goals you had. Perhaps you can't spend time with many of your family members. All of that is painful and heartbreaking.
You deserve recognition for doing your best and having finished this semester. Be proud of yourself for having done so. Be proud of your colleagues for also completing their semesters. Don't let anyone make you believe that you didn't do your best and that things are too messy and can't be fixed.
Now that you are here, take a deep breath. Let go of all that stress from this semester. I know things might still be complicated as classes are not the only stressful thing you are probably going through. Some of you might take summer classes, and I wish you the best from the bottom of my heart. Nevertheless, you made it up to now! And I am sure that even with all the bad situations and negative experiences, you were also able to experience good things. Cherish those achievements and goals even if they might seem small. The future seems uncertain, but don't put too much pressure on yourself by thinking about it. If we have learned something, it is that things can change entirely in a short moment.
Try to make up for the days you spent without taking care of yourself. Read those books you had wanted to read all along the semester. Call those friends with whom you lost contact with, and reconnect with them. Express to others how you feel. Look for professional help if you need it. Join an association or group during the summer. And above all, learn to prioritize your mental health and who you are. You are, and you have been, brave and strong. I am proud of you, and I believe in you!
Valeria N. Martinez Fernandez