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The Pandemic Destroyed Our Dreams Of College Life; Please Can We Get Some Empathy?

Posted: May 24, 2021

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Yes we know the pandemic is unprecedented, but do have some recognition of how the mental health of students has been affected by the loss of our dreams of college life.

Trigger Alert: This speaks of depression and mental health issues, and may be triggering for a survivor.

I write this attending my class on my laptop. The screen has some video playing on it and I am 100% sure my brain has registered no information that has been shared till now. But, I have a very valid reason for this inattentiveness.

I’ve just realized how I have spent my whole of first year in college doing nothing in particular. And I remembered how excited I was when I applied for the admission. New city, new people, new course. It was supposed to be the time of my life.

It’s mildly amusing when you realize how it is on the other extreme right now.

Joking about things that make me sad is a new coping mechanism of mine. I guarantee its effectiveness; lasts for a maximum of two weeks, culminates in one being a weeping, bawling mess. But I believe crying is a healthy thing to do. So yes, it is a great coping mechanism.

Looking at the random images flitting across my screen right now, the only thing I feel is insurmountable anger mainly at the current education system, partly at the wretched virus. Both have worked along so well to make my life miserable. But let me just focus on one culprit right now.

My dear education system

I hate your audacity to assume all students are in the mental state to achieve great feats in the midst of a pandemic. I would love to burst your bubble, respected sirs.

Our days start and end with uncertainty. Sure, there are students who are doing amazing work and honestly you guys, good for you that you are keeping sane. But it is not a representation of the whole student community. Some of us barely have any idea as to how the last academic year went by. Some of us are still trying to make sense of what is happening with our lives.

The obsession with attendance

I hate your obsession with attendance. How can you be so oblivious to the different background that each of us students comes from?

Not all of us live in areas with 4G data connectivity, not all of us can afford to have a router set up at our homes. Some of us are attending classes while tending to the COVID patients at home. Some of us are the COVID patients. Even if this wasn’t the case, I just want you to understand that we have no incentive to do things anymore. The classes no longer bring us any joy. We got through the twelfth board exams because we all had so much hope for what our college life has to offer for us. We all got through the first semester of our college because we hoped that the decreasing number of cases meant we would have offline classes by the next semester.

Classes from the ‘comfort of our homes’?

Now, we are aware of the (large) possibility that we might even graduate from our courses sitting in the ‘comfort of our home’.

Comfort yes, of course. My eyes are ever so thankful to me for the five hours I spend every day on my laptop. And when they realize they are going to get additional movie time or social media scrolling time on the mobile, they scream themselves dry! It itches though. But yes, my eyes are happy about how comfortable I make them feel.

And what about those whose homes aren’t a place of comfort? I don’t even know how they are managing.

Our Profs did not train for or sign up for online classes

I might as well complain on behalf of my professors too. Unless any of them had taken up this profession hoping to give monologues in front of a computer screen, I know they hate this as much as I do. Their cries to make the class lively by asking us to interact doesn’t reach many of us (mostly because lot of us login to the classes and go back to sleep). The awkward silence that follows this is simply sad to sit through.

I won’t claim to understand their frustration. I don’t. What I do know is that we are all sorry to put you teachers through this. But, we can’t help it.

Can we have some empathy for mental health of students?

Please don’t preach me by saying these are unforeseen times. I am very well aware of it. This horrible existence is definitely not in my dreamland. Don’t try to guilt-trip me by giving accounts of people who have it way worse than me, of people who are struggling to get access to education. Their situation is very bad and something I won’t ever wish on anyone.

But my problems and their problems are in different context. The system of discrimination and inequality that this society continues to embrace cannot be compared with the effect of the pandemic on my mental health. I say my situation is bad in comparison to how it would’ve been if not for this pandemic. I am just asking you all to remember the fact the present situation is like none that we have ever witnessed. Remember it in the context of the mental health of us students too.

I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. It feels less like a tunnel and more like a borewell.

Can we just have some empathy?

We don’t want the world to do something extraordinary for us. No. We just need you to empathize with us. Realize that the situation is new for us too. We plan to make it through to see the end of the pandemic and still be sane. That’s our hope now.

We need you to go easy on us. Your assignment deadlines don’t help us in any way. They are simply a reminder of all the things we haven’t done with our lives. Living with so much uncertainty about our future, constantly thinking about how unemployable we are… this is how our days pass by. It shouldn’t be too difficult for you to realize how bleak the prospects are for us.

We need you let us be. Give us some respite from this mess. Do something to make us feel like there is more to our life than a video conferencing app.

Yours hopelessly tired,
First year UG student

If you or anyone you know is feeling depressed or suicidal, here are some of the helplines available in India. Please call. 
Aasra, Mumbai: 022-27546669
Sneha, Chennai: 044-2464 0050
Lifeline, Kolkata: 033-2474 4704
Sahai, Bangalore: 080–25497777
Roshni, Hyderabad: 040-66202000, 040-66202001

Image source: YouTube

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