Is anyone else somewhere between really confused and mildly scared for their GPA?
As I forever aspire to write blogs like a hilarious BuzzFeed article, I wanted to take some time to share some of my own humanity, which I think is so valuable when the only contact we have is when we suddenly lock eyes across a laggy Zoom room. You have heard it before, but I am gonna say it again! THIS. IS. HARD. And, of course, I don’t mean “defusing a bomb with 10 seconds left on the clock” hard; I mean the kind of hard you can't fix by hitting “remove from my list” on Netflix.
We all knew that this year wasn’t going to be “normal,” but we have all tried our hardest to find ways to make it feel kind of normal…In some ways, we’ve succeeded, but in others, we’ve failed, hard. As a theatre major, I have experienced a lot of anxiety about what it means to study such a physical art form in a world where “six feet apart” is the only slogan folx remember. It has been extremely challenging to remember my Why. You know, the reason why you are in it, what keeps your passion and what keeps you moving forward. I have started asking myself why am I still here? Why haven’t I changed my major? Why don’t I just defer for a year and come back when it is easier? I’d imagine a lot of my classmates are asking the same questions, and they are very valid questions. Even as I work on writing this blog, I am asking myself, “Why did you stay?” “Is it worth it?” “Can I do this again?” and “Am I ok?”
In an effort to again remind you there is a human on the other side of this screen, I’m going to get a little vulnerable with you and answer these questions for all of you to see.
Question 1: Why did you stay?
I love theatre because I am so passionate about storytelling. I believe that sharing my story with others is valuable and that learning others’ stories is just as valuable. This is a year where friendship means something different, and new friendships are a challenge none of us have had to face this way before. I chose to stay because I wanted to help people share their stories, live their stories, change their stories, and create their stories for everyone that had an open ear. I chose to stay because I knew that I was in a place where maybe I could make it a little easier for a few students to adjust to living here, and maybe that would make it worth it.
Question 2: Is it worth it?
This question can be interpreted a lot of ways, learning theatre virtually is… an interesting experience, and a very frustrating experience a lot of the time. It has however taught me one very useful lesson: circumstances change, but they don’t always have to keep you from doing something. Now, this can sound a lot like those cheesy lines where some wealthy person with an honorary degree who’s smiling says, “If you just try, it doesn’t matter where you come from. You can overcome anything”, because we all know that, even though it’s inspirational, it's a very privileged thing to say. What I mean is that, let your circumstance inform your work, inform your change, and let your circumstance bring you ideas that you didn’t have before. (The less wordy version of this might be “steer into the skid”)
Question 3: Can I do this again?
Honestly, I don’t know. This semester has been hard, disappointing, and all-around weird. While l know that this is the safest way to make college still happen (we definitely had some bets to see if we’d make it to Halloween), it doesn’t make it less exhausting that we’ve practically had no days off for three months. I have a huge pet peeve when people say, “take some time to practice self-care today.” It feels weirdly condescending to me and also assumes I know what will help, or that I have the time. However, over the coming five-week break, I intend to figure out what self-care truly means for me. Because, as much as a charcoal face mask makes me feel better, it doesn’t solve the looming stresses. I also intend to finally just say no sometimes and maybe, if I’m successful, I will be ready to do this again. If not, then I will have difficult conversations with myself, figure out what is the best option for me and my mental health, and make that choice with no regrets.
Question 4: Am I ok? (I almost didn’t include this question, but I hope it helps others)
No. I am stressed and tired, and a little scared, but I think those are fair and acceptable feelings when going to college, let alone during a pandemic. I am afraid of where my future is going and how one of the most exciting parts of my life is being marked with something that makes it so hard to be a young person learning about the world, but hey! Change always comes!
I hope you resonated with some part of this and that it helps to remind you that there are lots of humans around, and maybe that can be the reassurance you need! Being vulnerable can be so empowering, and I hope that these thoughts have helped to empower you! We are always here to support you, and if you need resources, someone to talk to, or even someone with some awesome memes, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask!