By Maya Pankiw
Thinking back to fall 2019, I remember walking around my university’s campus, feeling like I was ready to take on the world. The simple acts of walking to class, going to the gym, and going to the library made me feel like I was taking action to shape my future. Sure, classes were difficult, and I had to budget time for things like travel between classes and meetings, but the act of going places and doing things kept me motivated to keep pushing forwards. It felt like I had something tangible to work with — my future was in my own hands.
Fast forward to February 2021, I am working through my second semester of online school and the motivation to keep pushing forwards is nearly gone. The concept of actively taking charge of my future has faded into more of a struggle to keep my head above water. This is a shared feeling amongst many post-secondary students. Waking up, sitting at my desk from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. and doing it all over the next day has created a sort of paradox. We are all living the same life, and I can say from personal experience — I know it gets hard to keep a positive attitude and consistent motivation.
So, how do we get back that same positive, motivated student who walked around campus, head held high, excited for what the future had to bring? In times like these, it is important to adopt a new mindset — a broader, more open way of thinking. Personally, I think the overwhelming issue is that it is very easy to get caught up in all the various stresses of school, and life during a pandemic in general. It is easy to lose perspective, especially when the near future does not look any different than the present. This lack of perspective can be toxic for our health — both physical and mental.
Something that I find helpful is revisiting old goals and making new ones too. By goals, I don’t mean your to-do list. Putting simple tasks aside, take some time to really dream about what you want to experience in life. The amazing things our world has to offer are easily forgotten. There are endless characters you can play in your life. So many cities, countries, and corners of the earth left to visit and be influenced by. For example, some goals I would add to my dream list are to make at least two new friends per year, discover a new corner of the city in which I live, and to see the northern lights. A goal can be as small as cooking a new recipe or as big as climbing Mount Everest.
By setting these goals, I can get excited to work towards achieving them. Some goals, such as seeing the northern lights may have to wait until travel is safe again – but others can be acted upon right away. This instils a new sense of purpose in me. With a newly shifted perspective, it begins to feel slightly easier to move forwards every day.
Always remember that mixed in with all the stresses are the ingredients that make life so charming. There is nothing more important than your own personal happiness. Treat yourself kindly and remind yourself of all this earth has to offer. One day soon you will be back on campus, books in hand, walking towards those goals with bold new sense of purpose.