Letters from the dorm: Look beyond your academic pursuits to avoid feeling lost in these uncertain times

  • Students have the privilege of being able to stay home and self-reflect during Covid-19.
  • It's important to put things in context before complaining and criticising.
Cyril Ip |

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For most of us, our primary responsibility in life is to be a high-achieving student. Despite our non-academic endeavours and extracurricular activities, it is unquestionable that we still feel a need to prioritise our education above everything else.

As schools and universities close, many of us are left with a sense of emptiness, instantly losing the routine that we would otherwise follow, and the vigour that we would otherwise thrive upon. While I am grateful to have returned home, escaping the new epicentre of the pandemic, I am also troubled by my growing unwillingness to work productively, which would never be the case if I were on campus.

For all of you who feel like I do, I suggest that we look at our privilege and engage in some self-reflection, now that we have all the time in the world. While it’s understandably frustrating that our normality has been wrecked by a rapidly spreading virus, we must acknowledge that we, as students, are far from being the most disadvantaged group in society.

We can still access academic resources, we can still participate in virtual discussions, we can still connect with tutors and lecturers regarding our difficulties, and we can still think of enjoyable activities to do during our longer days at home. These are privileges that many aren’t afforded. Essential workers, such as health care professionals and grocery store workers, do not have the alternative to “work from home”or be completely unproductive.

Letters from the dorm: Searching for positives in a time of uncertainty

During the past few weeks, I was reminded of how important it is that we, firstly, put things in context before we complain and criticise and secondly, define ourselves beyond just one segment of our lives.

Just as a business would diversify its services and production to avoid excessive dependence on any one segment, we as students should expand on how we define ourselves to avoid feeling lost and powerless when one part of who we are is abruptly taken away.

Take time to consider the changes that we could make within ourselves and within society, now that we are forced to rearrange our priorities. Perhaps, spreading awareness about public health, delivering supplies to neglected and underprivileged groups, and celebrating the safety and shelter that we have habitually taken for granted. These things are time-consuming, yet meaningful. Gradually, we can build up the philanthropist in us that goes beyond our academic pursuits.

In the coming months, we are going to have to adapt to a new lifestyle. Rather than being too distressed by the need to change, we should push ourselves to be open and inspired, while acknowledging the great things that we already have.

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