A Very Honest Update…
A warning that this is going to be a super long post, so props if you make it to the end!
Didn’t plan on writing another quarantine-related post, but here we are! I wasn’t going to share this at first. I didn’t feel like I had to right to (more detail later), but I vowed to be honest about my experiences. That does mean that some posts will not be very pleasant, and this is one of them. However, I have learned that there’s benefit to that as well.
I have no idea what I’m doing or what I’m going to do.
I typed that week beginning 13 April sometime. As I am writing this sentence it’s the 15 of May. Nothing much has changed. If anything, I feel worse. I don’t want to talk to anyone, I don’t want to be around anyone; sometimes I’m not a nice person to be around. Yes, it sounds terrible, but when you don’t have the chance (or your own space) to escape for a while, it happens.
I’m going to do something a little different from the productive and inspiring daily routines you may have seen lately. We will dip and that’s just as important to acknowledge that you won’t feel accomplished every day. It’s hard not to feel embarrassed or let-down no matter how justified it may be, but I’m going to ahead and share with you my daily routine when I’m having a particularly bad day/ week/ few weeks… Who knows?
Early am: Crazy, random thoughts time. This may be worrying about 10 things at once and getting into a panic, or laying there asking myself, “Aimee, what are you doing with your life?”. It sounds troubling, but in this moment you don’t take into account the current circumstances.
Wake up (hopefully after getting back to sleep): I will ALWAYS get changed and get ready for the day. It doesn’t matter how much willpower it takes, I’ve trained myself well!
Pre-Midday: Try to do work. Have trouble concentrating. Stop and do something else to try and reset my mind. Try to work again. Get frustrated; realise it’s not going to happen. Complete any admin-y stuff if necessary. Text/ chat to a friend. Maybe try writing part of a blog post.
Midday-ish: Will I eat lunch? I will try and eat a little something at least.
Early Afternoon: Go upstairs into my room when my sister finally wakes up. Start to do work but fast forward 2 hours only to realise that all I’ve done is stare at words. Probably have a cry and some point. Give up. Stare outside the window for a while to see if I can spot the neighbourhood cats and mull over not being able to cuddle them. Perhaps do something creative/ musical like have a jam on the flute.
Late afternoon: Watch the daily briefing. Eat dinner. Watch funny animal videos that friends have sent me.
Evening: Contemplate what I am doing once more. Attempt to do get some light work or revision done. Maybe do something creative again. Feel bad for being so ‘unproductive’.
Bedtime: Two words: thoughts spiralling.
Wake up: Maybe I’ll feel so drained that I just need to sleep. Maybe I’ll get 4 hours sleep. Maybe I’ll get 8 and feel completely exhausted. There’s no telling which way it will go.
These past 2 weeks have been rough. In the last few days, I have resorted locking myself in my room for the whole day (kicking my sister out in order to do so) and have blatantly refused to talk to anyone.
A lot has gone down since the start of my university life. Things were getting better just before Corona decided to take over our lives.
I’m going to straight up say that I have struggled with interacting with others at uni, whether that be in class or on a social level. It’s something that I completely restarted and tried so so hard to push myself on this academic year. Going from forcing yourself to go out every day and fighting the nerves to interact with people instead of cooping yourself in a room, to literally being locked inside is quite the setback. If you have found yourself in the same situation, you will understand the pain of months (possibly a few years) of building that courage up, only to find yourself slowly drifting right back to the beginning.
Many of you will share the concerns that I have with the cancellation of work experience opportunities. Personally, I only figured out what wanted to go into more specifically at the beginning of this year. I’ve gone from having my placement year plans falling through at the last moment, to fulfilling plan B by having 3 or 4 exciting work experience-y stuff lined up for Term 3 and the Summer, to nothing. Knowing that I need to have specific (non-existent) work experience and apply for a Master’s next year is really panicking. I can’t begin to imagine how you must be feeling if you are a finalist or a student who doesn’t know if they can undertake their intercalated year that is an essential part of your degree or planned career progression. Not all of us have social connections to turn to. We have to rely on departmental and wider university opportunities, and hours of independent research. Or there’s needing to make very careful plans due to factors such a finance.
Then there’s being in the middle of figuring some stuff out that has been dragging on for a while; not knowing what’s happening, or even having to make the decision to completely halt all of that against recommendations. Many students are unable to access the services and support systems that we need to either because they are miles away from where we are quarantining or because we live with those who are classed as vulnerable.
Without going into too much detail I’ve also continued to struggle with, what we will call ‘personal development’ for now, since starting uni. Also, something that I’ve worked hard on keeping at bay. The end of Term 2 was the first time in what seems like forever that I genuinely felt content in how I was doing, possibly because of all of the above.
That’s Bubbles and Squeak (for those of you who like cute animal pics!), my two beloved piggies. Anyone who has lost a pet, be that relatively recently or quite a while ago, will be able to resonate with missing their best buddies at this time. Imagining them there, when they’re not, and getting up and going to bed without being able to give them kisses and cuddles breaks your heart.
To spend so long and so much effort on redirecting yourself for it to all suddenly come crashing down (again) is so deflating. Only this time, you feel beyond helpless because whilst you know that you need to do something about it, you physically can’t. Quite frankly, I feel like humpty dumpty who has fallen off a wall and has been magically glued back together goodness knows how times in the past few years at this point.
Speaking up about these things is as a student/ adult is daunting. Students seem to have this reputation of being a group of people who are spoilt and spend more time caring about the social side of the ‘university experience’ than doing anything else. On the one hand, we’re made to feel guilty about having all these worries by others who seem to think that we can just go home and laze around. On the other hand, we get told that we’re being ignorant to the realities of adult life and that we’re selfish because our worries don’t compare to what others are going through. All the same, we get reminded day in and day out we’re not kids anymore, and that’s true. Nevertheless, we are still figuring out life to put it bluntly so it’s entirely reasonable to be concerned about how this will affect us currently and in the long-term as it is for anyone else.
Another key point that I want to raise here is that as bloggers, we can give you tips and advice, but do we always follow themselves ourselves? We can try, but of course not. I would be lying if I even attempted to justify against that. I really wish that I am on top of everything as much as everyone tells me they think I am, but plenty of times that’s far from reality.
Don’t be fooled by mine or other students’ extremely positive posts, or those photos of impeccably organised desks and 8-hour productivity routines because that’s (probably) not every day. Behind some of those hidden days could lie a routine very much like what mine has been for the past couple of weeks.
Another example comes from my first quarantine post. I wrote, ‘We shouldn’t be pitting each other against one another’, and spoke about being sensitive to others’ concerns because we’re all facing different challenges. What am I doing? I continue to let myself and other people guilt me into believing that my own concerns aren’t worthy, when that’s not true. That then comes with feeling like you don’t have the right to express these worries. That completely defeats what I promote in my posts, which is why I decided to share this with you all in the end.
The challenge that a lot of us are facing is feeling this guilt for worrying about ourselves, as much as we worry about other people. We forget to treat ourselves with the same level of open-mindedness and care as we do so with others.
There’s something that my tutor said to me back in Term 1. It was a very simple phrase, but it continues to stick with me every time I begin to have a difficult time. I believe this will resonate with a lot of us right now, and that is:
You just have to be a little bit braver for a little bit longer.
This wasn’t in the sense of ‘you just have to crack on with things, but more so that you are in a situation which is unsettling and there may not seem to be a clear end point in sight. There’s no doubt that the process out will be rough. However, it’s reflecting on how you are feeling, attaching a why if possible, and recognising that these feelings and thoughts are worth the validation, rather than masking them or pretending that they’re not real.
Whilst I do love the optimism of always looking at the bright side, we shouldn’t completely disregard the negatives. Talking about them it doesn’t make someone ungrateful or ignorant at all.
It’s frustrating (potentially) not being able to do anything about them for the time being, but acknowledgment and acceptance is a start. We just need to keep remembering that just like those times when we thought that we would never get out of a situation; persevered and got through, there is an endpoint somewhere. This isn’t forever as much as it seems to be.
That’s where I am at moment. We WILL work it out.
Sorry for a bleak post but click here for some really cute and funny dog photos to make up for it and I hope you enjoyed the animals throughout, because sometimes it’s the little things that add a sprinkle of positivity to the day amongst the rest of the madness!
Head over to Warwick Library’s Facebook page every Thursday at 2pm, where you can see what one of the lovely PAT dogs have been up to. You can also keep up with the fun stuff that our Study Happy mascot, Kirby, has been up to over on their Instagram page as well!
Anyways, I promise that I have a much more light-hearted and shorter post coming up next!
For now, I hope that exams are going well (you’re almost at the end!) and that you are looking after yourself the best that you can. Please keep an eye on yourself as much you are looking out for others.
Panda rolling / Puss in Boots: via GIPHY