I want to start by telling you a story back in senior year, months before the lockdown started.
It was seemingly another day of 3rd period lunch, where I'd sit down by my friends and maybe watch the rest of my grade take out their unfinished homework and prepare for the rest of the classes ahead. But this day in particular was different because of what transpired with my classmate and friend. She was a writer for our school newspaper, and she wanted to ask our fellow seniors about the kinds of advice that they could give to future freshmen. She asked about 4-6 people before she turned to me about what I wanted to say.
Now, many of the responses (understandably) focused around academia and being sure to stay on top of your work, but none of the responses that I heard talked about remembering to take care of yourself. And so, that ended up being the advice that I would give to my classmate. She said at the time that it was good advice, and that seemed to be the end of it. But now I realize that I wasn't paying enough attention to how emblematic that piece of advice would become 6 months into this pandemic.
Of course, this is relevant for everyone, as none of us have ever been in such an unprecedented situation. But it's also very compromising for those at the beginning of their time in new schools. Those freshmen that I indirectly gave advice to are probably terrified that this is the way that they start their high school careers. And that's on top of the fact that they're probably entering an environment where they know virtually nobody. That's a confusing and very isolating situation, which is similar to what me and my peers of the Class of 2024 are experiencing right now. Sure, we're older, and maybe some circumstances are radically different, but that doesn't make it any better. We're all entering this new space ON TOP of a new experience that we should be going through in person, not behind a screen. And because of that, we're all in a scramble to fill that space as artificially as we can.
But before we get lost in the rush to get our schedules together or to get our coursework done as quickly and efficiently as we can, the biggest thing that I think that we should all keep in mind is whether or not we're being the most efficient persons for ourselves. Sure, it'll be great when we perform well on that paper or that exam and we get high marks from our professors, but did that come at the expense of our well-being? Did we give up realism and taking a methodical approach to our classes in the name of rushing to become an A+ machine? Was it worth it to pressure ourselves to that breaking point? I truly hope that we'll never have to have an answer to those questions.
Yes, it's going to be inevitable that we'll have to give up sleep at times to make sure we meet a deadline. But how about all those times that we (ideally) won't need to? The answer to that is simple but very important: take care of yourself. Know how your body will respond to the strain from handling college work. Be realistic about what you can or can't do. Be willing to reach out if you need help in any way, academically or otherwise, because it really is a comfort to know that you don't have to be alone in this road. And don't forget to give yourself that opportunity to step away from your desk and try to liven up a little. There's nothing wrong with sparing yourself that.
And for what it's worth, I'll try to do the same.