July 09, 2021
Did you know that we breathe around 20,000 times a day?
So if you thought that you haven’t learned anything this year, there you go! You just learned something new.
Kidding aside, that is one of the fun facts I learned just this year as I scrolled on my phone while lying in bed. I am also delighted that I was able to memorize the names and faces of a South Korean boy group that has 13 members, which I thought was impossible for me to achieve. I can say that I have learned a lot of things about myself—some useful but mostly useless information—and also about what’s happening inside and outside the country.
But when it comes to academics, I feel like my brain instantly becomes an empty void.
I did not like the idea of going through online classes. It awfully drained me, gave me “Zoom fatigue,” and hindered me from walking around the campus, while eating scrumptious cookies that my professor would give us every class.
I tried to blame the situation, that I did not want or choose this setup. There were times when I thought of skipping the semester, but I could not take this risk since I was already delayed because I transferred schools. This forced me to push through with the online school year, and surprisingly, my grades ended up better than expected.
However, I was left unfulfilled and that bothered me. This thought came about: “Did I really learn? Or did I pass those requirements just to finish the semester?”
Sounds familiar? You might also have the same concern, which made you guilty and ask, “Is that okay?”
Though I feel I’m not the best person to advise you, at least as a fellow student, allow me to affirm that it is okay if you feel like you haven’t learned anything new this school year. Don’t be too hard on yourself! What is not okay, however, is to dwell on that.
There was a time when I just ranted to God about everything, especially on how this kind of setup was really not conducive for learning, how unnecessary some of the requirements were, and even how the news here and abroad affected my mental health and focus in school. Maybe you had a rant or two this school year, too.
But, in the midst of my conversation with God, He made me realize how privileged and blessed I still am with my stable internet connection, my own gadgets, and little to no assigned household chores. He did not disregard all of my concerns, but He made me remember and pray for those who face difficulties this school year. This included students who relied on free data, those who did not have their own devices for online classes, and those who lost their loved ones in the middle of the school year.
Since I feel like I haven’t learned anything new, one aspect that also made me afraid was my future. As one who loves to dream big things, of course, I would love to reach my dreams one day.
But when the online setup happened, doubts, fear, and anxiety suddenly began to attack me.
“Did the online classes equip me for my future?”
“Am I prepared for the workplace once I graduate?”
While assessing myself and the school year, God led me to this verse:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5–6 (NIV)
At the end of the day, you can trust God and let go of all of your worries about what awaits you. He is the Lord who gives wisdom, and from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 2:6). He will be with you and guide you in every step of the way, until you reach the promised land that He has prepared for you and even beyond that.
How do we move forward then?
1. Head for your pit stop.
In a race, it is important for the driver to pause in a pit stop for refueling and to check what needs to be repaired before he can continue with the race.
As I went through the school year, I realized that I needed to take a pause and reassess. One thing that helped me to break out of this slump was identifying the things that have kept me from learning. Distractions topped my list. Especially now with online classes, it’s so easy for us to instinctively open Twitter or Instagram while class is in session. Oops.
If you are able to open your camera in class, please do so! Your professor will appreciate it so much and your full attention will be on the discussion. You can also write down notes on your notebook so that it would lessen the desire to check other tabs. If your professors upload their lecture recordings, you can also go back to them to make sure that you actually absorbed the teachings and, you know, learned.
Bonus tip: Do not lie in bed while you are in class. Trust me!
2. Trust your pit crew.
A big part that has also helped me in this battle is my community. I was surrounded by people who made me realize that I am not alone in this journey and that my feelings are valid. It’s okay to be vulnerable and accountable because true friends are there to help you get back on track.
My friends have become an encouragement to me through their prayers and kept me on track as we studied at the same time on our discord channel.
Do you have this kind of friends and community already? If not yet, I encourage you that even in this set up, it is possible to find these people. If we’ve learned anything about this pandemic, facing academics alone is not just difficult, but impossible.
3. Proceed to your finish line.
Whether you are towards the end of a term, moving up or graduation, you have to keep pushing to cross that finish line. The reason why you took your time to refuel in the pit stop and trust in your pit crew is because you have a race to finish. Do not let the feeling of not learning anything stop you from finishing the race.
While you’ve refueled at your pit stop and your pit crew is rooting for you, it is still in your hands to drive through to finish the race. As God has given you the grace to start and keep going, He has also supplied you with the grace to complete the race! Yes, it’s been a tough year, but take heart, the best is yet to come!