The Homestretch Blues: a semester wrap-up

We are in what a lot of people like to call the “homestretch” of the semester. We have less than a week to go. Projects are being completed, papers are being edited, and the wave of final exams is almost over. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. So why do things feel a little underwhelming? 

I don’t know where you stand, but I am exhausted. It is not like I expected an entire semester with no breaks to be easy by any means, but it was still much harder than I think any of us anticipated. At first, getting out of the house that I spent quarantine in and getting back to a schedule was a huge relief. I know most of us love our families, but once we get a small taste of freedom it is hard to go back and assimilate into our old households. 

That relief fizzled out for me about three weeks into the semester when the work started piling up. I have always considered myself a fairly good student. Sure, I turn assignments in late sometimes, but I am mostly capable of staying on top of my work. It has been a different story this year. 

It is hard to keep things straight when the way you have been used to doing everything is flipped completely on its head. Things started falling through the cracks. I would forget assignments, roll out of bed seconds before my Zoom classes started, and I was barely able to keep up with my schedule the way I had in previous years.

At first, I was confused and frustrated as to why I was having so much trouble, but how is anything supposed to be as straightforward as normal when nothing is normal? I had to be more forgiving with myself than I’m used to. It is a hard lesson to learn but a necessary one.

This semester has felt like being a freshman again in a lot of ways. The new safety systems in place and the volume of work have made many of us feel like fish out of water. In a normal year, I would have seen friends and had a healthy amount of social interaction every week, but COVID-19 turned me into a recluse typing away on her laptop and panicking over assignments and thesis deadlines. My own roommates get spooked when they see me outside my own room these days. 

Grace looking out for the end of the school year.
Photo by Grace Mathews.

Nothing has felt very substantial because time has slid by us both far too fast and far too slow, and now we are at the end. I don’t remember the whole month of September, and where did Halloween even go?

This fall has had its fair share of flaws. The lack of a break was difficult for everyone, instructors and students alike, who feel like they have been stretched thin with no time to catch their breath. Granted, it was a necessary evil, but it still took a toll on everyone’s morale. None of us really knew what we were getting into this year if we are being honest. Not even a lot of the faculty or staff knew either; this pandemic and all the safety guidelines that came along with it were uncharted territory. 

Given that, I would go out on a limb and say things have gone better than my pessimistic mind thought they would. I think a lot of us, worn out as we are, have made the situation work for us. I know people who have made new friends, ran clubs online, buckled down and gotten jobs, starred in shows, and otherwise pushed past the roadblocks 2020 has thrown in their way. College students are resilient creatures. 

So, no, a rough semester of being hunkered down and trying our best is not going to make for a very exciting ending. The conclusion of this year is naturally going to feel a little draining or off, but the winter will help. We will finally have some room to take a breath, maybe drink some hot cocoa, or cuddle with a pet, or sleep for two months straight. It will be a chance to reflect on this chaotic year and make plans for the future. There is no telling what the spring will bring, but we will certainly be better prepared for it.

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