Students Social Distancing/Wearing Masks

UT student walking to class while following the university's Covid-19 policies on Thursday, August 20, 2020.

As we’re now in full swing of an online semester that sees a lot of our daily activities altered, it can be lost on plenty of students how much this affects them and their minds.

We live off of actions that fill our time, tasks that keep our brain thinking and thoughts that should remain relevant to the here and now. The United States as a society, and people of college age specifically, went almost half a year where most of us had no true sense of purpose.

I personally didn’t have a job and didn’t have school to worry about. All summer long I filled my time with preferred interactions. That in of itself is a big switch on the brain; I suddenly had no real life worries that existed while life was normal, because I’m a college student without a job who is fortunate enough to still be able to live under my parent’s roof.

Take this radical change and twist it even more, putting young adults in even further isolation at school with virtual learning and you have a recipe for a lot of mental health issues.

I took for granted the mental fulfillment that little interactions have on the mind, making the day feel complete even if I didn’t recognize it in real time. This is something I imagine a lot of other people my age didn’t realize either. Now-a-days my routine consists of school on a computer in the comfort of my apartment, then really anything else I choose to do, which often times is not much at all. Because I didn’t realize how much time class and work really take up, I was able to value the things that bring me happiness back then because it seemed like a reward for finishing class or getting off work.

This semester, those same things struggle to bring me the same happiness as they are all that my day consists of. The loss of appreciation isn’t the activities fault, it’s the idea that my mind knows it as an expectation now, not something to look forward to.

The struggle to understand that life isn’t supposed to be this way has been a tough hill to climb, but sitting around expecting a sense of normalcy to come back without my contributed effort, doesn’t help anything either. Since I’ve started to struggle mentally, I’ve begun to incorporate more sights and sounds into my day. I take my classes in new places, I go for hikes, and I reach out to more friends.

The hardest part of a mental battle is understanding you aren’t alone. My hope is for people to see they aren’t the only ones experiencing this, and that the doubts and anxiety that are filling their heads are not uncommon things. As students we can all play our part in getting our society back to normal, but what shouldn’t get lost in that fight to end a pandemic is that your well-being should remain, and always be, your top priority.

Carson Fowler is a sophomore majoring in Business Analytics and minoring in Business Administration. He can be reached at cfowle16@vols.utk.edu

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff

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