This semester has been interesting for many reasons, to say the least, but a common feeling amongst most students I’ve come in contact with has been lacking the desire or energy to do much of anything. While talking with a friend recently, we realized that we had been feeling bad about ourselves because of these feelings, sort of like we were failing as students because it seemed like we should be able to keep pushing ourselves no matter what. But then it hit us that we were treating these feelings like laziness when, in fact, they weren’t. When we talked about why we were feeling so low energy, it always came back to how much we already have on our plates and the long list of tasks that were coming up within the next calendar year. We also discussed the stress that current events and the uncertainty of the pandemic has caused us and how much of a toll everything has taken on our mental health. We really weren’t lazy after all, just tired and in a pandemic.
When the quarantine first started, everybody and their mama was talking about how we should use this time to be “productive,” achieve our goals, and finish big projects. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good goal or project, and I think that productivity is important; however, I think that this message is a bit privileged in a sense and only looks at one form of productivity. Not everyone has the means or the privilege of focus right now to start a new project, and it has been extremely difficult for many college students to even focus on just their classes.
Yet, the message being pushed to so many college students right now is how we can capitalize on the assumed “free time” we all now have, making the widely held desire by so many college students to just do less or slow down seem like laziness. The reality is that most college students are not feeling lazy, even if that’s what we call it ourselves. Being in a pandemic for 7 months doesn’t come without mental and emotional tolls that everyone is feeling and experiencing, some much more than others.
The uncertainty of even the next month is overwhelming for everyone and makes tasks like attending class and doing homework feel a lot more taxing and overwhelming than they used to. Add the pressure to still get stellar grades, a prestigious job or internship, and post-college job or graduate school applications, and you’ve got some extremely overwhelmed and stressed out students!
I think it’s past due time for college students (and people in general) to stop labeling themselves and others as lazy if they simply want to slow down right now or are not getting as much work done as before. The pandemic has produced several types of stressful situations for everyone and it is completely acceptable to not feel like doing ten things every day right now. Give yourself a bit more grace when it comes to your grades and your goals and figure out realistic ways to still achieve those long-term goals of yours without compromising your wellbeing.
Very well written!!!
This blog was tweeted on U OF I Twitter handle and then immediately removed. We hear of being open about mental health issues but then suppress acknowledging it in real time.
Really appreciate you sharing this Taylor. So many of us are feeling the effects of this extended period of uncertainty and without our normal routines. I couldn’t agree more that it’s important to acknowledge the context within which we are all operating and not judge ourselves (or others) too harshly.