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creative lockdown: low points of a virtual fall by Waly N. '24

Part 2 of a fall semester recap

In my last blog, I mentioned that since the spring semester hadn’t started yet, that blog wasn’t being posted too late. Unfortunately, now that the spring semester has begun, I am quite late on this piece, but I wanted to write it anyway, so here I am.

I considered just not writing this post and moving on to the 5000 other topics on my to-do list, but I felt it would be disingenuous to present the fall semester through only my most recent post and stop right there. There were good things that happened for sure. Yet, it was mixed with a variety of other complicated and challenging moments related to adapting to college life, the pandemic, and z o o m. After moving on campus recently and seeing people in 3D, I’m hoping for some things to improve and change as time goes on.

One of the most pervasive struggles during the fall had to do with finding motivation. It wasn’t like I didn’t have the motivation to do assignments and go to lectures. For my classes with synchronous lectures, I never missed a single one. I joined clubs, went to events, partook in many things. But the activation energy it took to do all these things was always quite a bit. It didn’t come easily, and for much of the semester, I was running on adrenaline, stress, and self-induced pressure. The pressure that I either wasn’t doing enough or well enough or good enough. Over the years, I’ve grown accustomed to never missing out on schoolwork despite not feeling up for it at times. Perhaps a habit I should try to tweak a bit. I was pushing myself quite hard and not allowing myself to rest.

After our week-long break in November, I particularly struggled to find motivation. It’s odd; a break from school turned out to be the dagger in my side as I trudged on to the end of the semester. I think during that break, I finally had space to relax from a constant cycle of sleep, zoom, repeat. This caused my adrenaline, which I realize might not be the right word for this, to die down considerably. I watched some shows, played a new game (Civ 6), and chilled a bit. On the bright side, I felt less stressed, but I also seemed to struggle even more to do assignments after the break, and things I enjoyed, such as writing blogs, seemed increasingly difficult to sit down and do. I completely burned out, and there sadly isn’t an exact prescription to help that condition. 2 months later, I still somewhat feel that way. I planned to write this blog the week of December 22nd, 2020, and it has taken me all this time to finally do it, which is unfortunate.

The struggles with lack of motivation were related to the isolation that accompanied the fall. Covid has made me have a love-hate relationship with Zoom since it makes me quite tired, but it also served as 90% of my social interactions during the fall semester. I didn’t meet with friends during the fall because social interactions with covid felt rather unsafe living at home, but it inevitably took a toll on me. My only chances to talk to people outside of my family were through structured and scheduled calls, which made me quite sad.

I really longed to do the little things I would enjoy before, like eating lunch with my friends and playing simple games like cards. I also dreamed of doing things that I had never experienced, like live on campus with actual humans. Without these little pleasures, schoolwork felt so methodical and bland. An endless cycle of work till you drop. It was hard to motivate myself to do assignments when most of the things I enjoyed were drifting away. I joined many clubs and student organizations to do something I enjoy outside of school. Still, these couldn’t suffice for social interactions since it was just more zoom. They definitely did help on the isolation aspect, but the issue was just rather profound.

The isolation I felt during the fall is what I hope will change the most during this spring. Being able to live on campus now, I feel a bit more comfortable with social interactions, given I can get tested and have a particular pod.01 who are quite the amazing group of people It’s a rather odd feeling, though. After going without close social interactions (outside of my home) for a year, I’m not sure I know how to talk to people in-person anymore. In fact, I might be allergic. Little talks and walks almost make me uneasy. But hopefully, with time, things will return to a small but significant sense of normalcy.

Now, in honor of the blog title, another aspect to touch upon in this somber fall semester post is the toll I felt it took on my creativity. I sometimes have lots of shower thoughts and random ideas, especially when trying to tinker with things. I found that during the fall, my head was a pretty blank slate at times. The weight of work, psets, expectations (both internal and external) made it hard to have creative thoughts, which felt “less important.” Everything was busy, stress was my middle name, and ideas were hazy.

There were little things that helped like working on a small car for my final physics project, which required lots of creativity, but it is something that I wish I worked on more in the fall. During these little activities, I noticed how hard it was for me to think of solutions to problems compared to how it usually would be, which brought this issue to my attention. During this current semester, I hope to give myself some more space to just do crazy creative things. I’m taking quite the creative class, 2.00B, and spent time plotting out how to decorate my room (which may have a blog, who knows), so hopefully, I can put more effort into this aspect.

Hopefully, this is one of the more dreary blogs I write for a while. It was pretty hard to write, but it’s nice to formulate it into some words. Now that I finally finished procrastinating, I’m looking forward to some more writing and exciting changes to life this spring.

  1. who are quite the amazing group of people back to text