What is the life of a twenty-year-old supposed to look like? What are the expectations for us as we enter into what are supposed to be the most selfish years of our lives? Did we expect to be developing our lives in the midst of a global pandemic?
When you hear the generations above us tell stories about college life, it’s almost always prefaced with “the good times,” “the best days of our lives” or, my personal favorite, “party like you’re twenty fun.”
It’s fair to say that we all have a huge fear of missing out, and, because these stories are the basis for how we romanticize our own college experiences, you can’t help but feel as though you must be missing out on what could have been the best days of your life. We may not have the same stories to tell, but we are writing our own normal – our own narrative.
Yes, I know, worrying about the college experience in the middle of a pandemic is selfish. Worrying about lost years and missed opportunities is not the prime focus. There is no comparison, however. Am I where I thought I would be as a sophomore in college? Absolutely not.
I am not in the classrooms that I thought I would be in; rather, Brit Lit II, American Lit II, Critical Methods II, Writer’s Workshop and Human Variation all take place in the same classroom – my living room. I am not on campus with new and old friends alike, nor am I walking from Landmark, at midnight, back to an apartment that’s shared with the very best of roommates.
It’s frustrating sometimes – I feel as though I have hit a roadblock with no clear view in sight. I feel stuck in a never-ending rut that consists solely of Zoom and WebEx. I know I am not alone in this feeling, and that it’s shared with everyone who has had their lives turned upside down during this pandemic.
Children born during most of 2020 have only known life in quarantine. Elementary students are missing out on their first years of semi-independence and time away from home. Middle schoolers are being introduced to more advanced lessons without face-to-face instruction. High schoolers are missing out on milestone achievements, ceremonies and experiences. College students are being thrown into online courses, and expected to transfer that knowledge into real-world scenarios. In a nutshell, everyone has suffered in some way, shape or form.
How are we supposed to prepare for life when we haven’t gotten the chance to properly experience it? If we’re allowed to resume full, in-person learning, we’ll still have lost nearly two years of experience in the classroom.
Plenty of students globally will be graduating at the end of this coming year, without having been in a classroom for the last three semesters of their college career. We’re transitioning from being full-time, virtual students to beginning full-time employment.
Are we prepared for such a big jump? Did we receive the tools and foundation needed to succeed in our chosen career paths? You can’t help but ask these questions when the only space you’ve been privy to in the last year is the comfort of your own home.
There are loads of questions that are unanswered. Only time will tell if we have successfully educated and prepared ourselves for the next chapter of our lives. And while the frustration, angst and FOMO are most definitely real for many of us, the satisfaction of completing this difficult journey on our own will trump all of the obstacles.
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