A Semester With Open Endings

I’m not good at writing endings. I get comments in workshop all the time. “The endings came so quick.” “Give us more at the end, take your time with it.” “It feels rushed.” It’s the first thing I look at in revision. So let’s see how well this ending goes. 

I had half of a spring semester. I had a strong group of friends that took care of me and I took care of them. I had a club that I loved and devoted most of my time to. I spent too much money on coffee. I had so many late-night antics. 

And then the coronavirus became so much more than a thing that existed on the other side of the world. They extended spring break. They closed the school. I had to move out. I had to readjust to being at home, I place that I haven’t associated with school in a very long time. 

I worked for 23 hours in the first two days of online class. I burnt out for days at a time. I took more mental health days than I did on campus. I was frustrated, angry, confused. I internalized and then lashed out. 

Working in quarantine isn’t sunshine and rainbows. It isn’t anything like the lives of celebrities, Instagram influencers, or popular Tik Tokers. It isn’t pretty. I regressed to a part of my life that I didn’t think I would ever see again. And dammit, it’s been hard. 

When it was Spring Break, I didn’t have responsibilities, I was able to have fun. Hangout with my friends for a few days before the Stay At Home Order, and even after that I was still able to have fun with my family. And then school kicked back in and I wasn’t fun anymore. 

I didn’t have time to watch TV with my mom. I had articles to read, Zoom and WebEx meetings, quizzes, group facetimes to work on assignments, essays to write and revise, children’s novels to dissect– it’s been never-ending. And I realized how much being a student is a job. My job is to read and write and study and discuss and it takes up all of my time. On campus, I have my friends to keep me from burning out. We know each other’s schedules and keep each other above water. 

So how do you stay above water? How you do you keep your head up when the waves just keep pushing you back down? 

Well, Zoom meetings with your friends help. Making Kahoots together and quizzing each other helps. Netflix Party helps. Digging out old video games helps. Listening to the music you listened to in middle school and high school helps. Making whipped coffee and cold brew and bread helps. Doing anything to get out of your head helps. Blogging helps. 

I’ve been treating these blogs as a journal. As a way to start expressing this weird time. A way to stop internalizing and at least get parts of it out and onto the page. In a way it’s worked. Writing about my anger and frustration lets it breathe for a moment. It’s made thinking about the future a little less scary. 

This might be a little niche but blogging has forced my to look through old pictures. Each post has used a picture from my lifetime. Lots are from old vacations and some are simply moments in time. Getting ready for a night out with friends, attempting to do homework when Loki desperately wants attention; they’re me from a part in time. Remembering those moments, and scrolling through my camera roll twice a week makes me smile. And any reason to smile right now is worth it. 

I still miss my alone time. Even in quarantine, I value the moments where I am all by myself and can empty my head for a while. They’re important moments that allow me to refocus and really just breathe. I still think too hard and too far into the future. But some days the clouds sort of part and I realize something new. Like, finals don’t quite matter like they used to. Their impending doom is lacking and I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful that there’s a Pass/No Credit option for students. Letting us take a breathe, refocus, and create without pressure. 

 Recently, I was on the phone with my dad and he told me, “Next year, I want you at school. I want you to be at school for your final year, I don’t want you to be home.” And I agree with him. I don’t want to be home. I miss spending too much money on coffee and antics with my friends. There’s an experience of being on campus. In a dorm with a long list of previous occupants. Eating at the student center, having lunch dates and dinner dates with friends. Simply being in a classroom, in a building different than where you sleep. It gets you up, out of bed, and at least some Vitamin D on your cheeks. My dad gets that. 

I’m ready for the semester to end and to be more than a GPA or a student ID, if even for a few months. I want to be productive for myself. Write for myself like I used to. In a time of chaos, why not escape within the pages of somewhere else? Chaos looks different now, it’s silent and lurking and we’re starting to learn her better. 

I still don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. I don’t know when the world is going to return to normal and it’s likely that it never will. Life is change. Life is scary. And sometimes you have to look it dead in the eye and take it on. 

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