Coming to Terms with Lost Time During a Pandemic

During the second lockdown in Ontario, on the minds of many university students is the idea of lost time. Many students grow up with their parents, teachers and mentors saying, “university was the best years of my life!” Before the pandemic, statements like this put a lot of pressure on university students. The idea of having to make the most out of finite time is overwhelming. Today, this pressure has been amplified even more with the emergence of lockdowns, social distancing and online classes. Now, it is not the pressure of making the most out of your university experience but coming to terms with losing “the best years of your life.”

These feelings have been on my mind over the past year, a year that resembles nothing like what I would have imagined the best years of my life to look like. At first, coming to terms with a significant portion of your undergraduate years been taken away from you comes with an extreme sense of loss and lack of agency over that loss. Over this time, I have found many ways to effectively come to terms with losing this time and, not only that, make the most out of it.

First of all, if the pandemic gave me anything positive, it gave me extra time with my family. What can seem frustrating at times also allowed me to become closer to my family and strengthen my relationship with them, something which I would have never imagined I could do and probably could not have while living and studying at university before. It can be difficult to find gratitude during a lockdown; however, if I am grateful for anything, it is this.

Over the past year, I have also had a lot of time with myself to reflect, learn and try out new things. Sometimes these things were for fun, such as learning to sew or baking an obscene amount. However, the pandemic also slowed down my life’s busyness, allowing me to gain greater clarity and plan for my future. I have been able to figure out my life’s direction and make strides towards it even amid lockdowns.

If you’re in university and feeling many of these feelings – loss and grief - I want you to know that you are not alone and these feelings are completely normal. I cannot speak as an expert, but I can speak on my experience and tell you that this feeling is normal.

If I can give you any advice, it is to stop putting the pressure on lost time. University can be the best years of many people’s lives, but four years does not define your entire life. There is so much living and enjoyment after university. The years you will get in university will be great if you work to make the most out of them; however, there will also be other years that are just as great. It is not all downhill after graduation unless you make it.

My last note is to stay positive; like I was saying earlier, there are many positives you can draw from lockdowns, even though they can be hard to see sometimes. Reflect on your past year and try to identify those positives. Although this does not fix time, it can change your perspective from viewing the pandemic restrictions as lost time to time that has benefited you and your life in some way.

Just remember to stay positive and take the pressure off yourself. Make the most out of the situation you are in and don’t dwell on things you cannot control.