The reality is, we’re all doing the best that we can.
The challenges we’ve experienced — just three weeks into the semester — are unparalleled.
Here we are, UNC. Adjusting to a last-minute transition to an entirely remote learning process and the movement of hundreds of students from on-campus housing. Not to mention the stress of unrelenting expectations, pressure on families and students to preserve an educational experience they’ve paid thousands for and a ruthless denial of responsibility on the part of the University and the UNC System. It’s already overwhelming to think about, isn’t it?
I’m trying to be transparent about my challenges. Trying to be open about the toll this chaos has taken on my mental health, how tired I feel keeping up with piling coursework — the intensity of which did not change throughout the pandemic and this last week of intense movement and transitions. I’m trying to be safe, and to stay healthy in a town that has transformed into a petri dish for the virus.
And I can’t even imagine the hardships that students, campus workers and even community members have experienced from the University’s haphazard and poorly communicated move to a remote setting. I’m hearing from so many of my peers — and even professors — that they, too, are exhausted and anxious.
The administration "tried to move forward.” But I don’t accept this careless excuse. I don’t. Because students were not emotionally, mentally and physically prepared for the drama ensuing UNC’s decision to reopen campus. We weren’t ready to be jerked around by an institution that proved incompetent amid a global pandemic.
But the reality is, we’ve all had to readjust, and we’re all doing the best we can.
So, to anyone overcome with stress today: you are not alone. To anyone finding it difficult to wake up in the mornings, to feel motivated to type on your computer, or to remember meal times or even physically move: let yourself accept the small victories. To anyone who wants to throw their hands in the air and bury their head in their arms, or who relies on daily jam sessions in the car to escape the frenzy of work and school: so many others are feeling it too. It’s funny how conversations in Zoom breakout rooms — with people I barely know — helped me normalize and internalize that fact.
A sea of coffee cups strewn in my bedroom, my Bollywood workout playlist, long drives in the sunset and random ice cream parties with my housemates can attest to my efforts to remain upbeat and energetic in the past week. I think it’s OK for us to admit that adjustment can take time. And it’s important to be gentle enough with ourselves so that we can create a space where even the little things — like cooking playlists or at-home stretching sessions — can keep us out of the overwhelmed depths of our minds, and instead connect us to moments of joy.
Because the reality is, we’re all trying our best. The two days students were given this week were helpful, but not enough — they vastly undervalued the extent of pressures and worries experienced by the Carolina community. Though decided upon too last-minute for students and faculty to make dramatic changes to their plans, they were important nonetheless, as a defining argument for why we must all be patient with ourselves, and others, and take small breaks.
So, to you, reader, I want to tell you what I wish others would tell me — do what you can, little by little, and remember that so many others are with you.
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