The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
In between Zoom calls, dining hall spaghetti and meatballs, TikTok trances, and virtual group projects, I am supposed to be having the time of my life. But the issue that arises is this: there is no in between. No separation between my reading nook and my research. No separation between my photo-covered dorm walls and virtual titration labs. No separation between my twin XL lofted bed and service projects, club meetings, and professional development. My first semester of college was the only one where no one was rocking back and forth on this boat of uncertainty and anxiety, constantly questioning everyone else’s and even our own morality when it comes to “how to act during a global pandemic.” I still don’t feel like this boat is even close to docking somewhere safe, and it’s been two years.
Though I’m still trying to grapple with the state of our world, my privilege has not been lost on me. I haven’t had to work in places where I felt unsafe, I’ve always had access to free testing, and I’ve been able to find KN95 masks to protect myself and my community from the newest variant. At the same time, the model of rugged individualism that this nation subscribes to is terrifying when it comes to dealing with a public health crisis that relies on the compliance of communities, neglecting the socioeconomically disadvantaged, and undermining the political polarity of the nation. I digress.
Movies exaggerate the booze, the casual relationships, the themed costume parties, and above all, the excitement of starting a life that, for the first time, is out of your parent’s control. I remember graduating high school and being sent across the country with endless words of support and joy and exclamations along the lines of “This will be the best four years of your life!” I don’t really know what any of that means, especially considering I’m in my last semester sitting at my laptop at 9:27 pm writing this on a Saturday night. I’m not unhappy, but I’m still trying to figure out how to mourn an experience I did not get and find ways to be content with what I do have.
Academically, I’m doing great. My major is still something I’m passionate about, and if nothing else, these last few years have taught me that my studies in public health are essential to the well-being of communities and nations. I’m doing research in a field that hits close to home and I’m involved in a community dedicated to social justice and service that I absolutely adore. Mentally though, I am so drained. Every Zoom meeting leaves me more disengaged with material that I should be excited about, and every party I see posted on Snapchat leaves me with a few moments of self pity. If nothing else, college has taught me how to sit with discomfort and find healthy ways to cope with anxiety and depression. Supportive friends, family, coworkers, supervisors, and partners have made all the difference. Spending time noticing nature, breathing fresh air, and unplugging is underrated. The power of a really angry Spotify playlist can also cure a whole lot of emotional ails. I am not thrilled with my collegiate experience, but it has set me up for success and led me to cross paths with phenomenal people that I desperately needed. It’s going to be a while before I can fully wrap my head around the last three years, but for the time being, let’s all plan on a gap year or two.