It is all too easy to become embittered by the unremarkable day to day of a life constrained by a global pandemic. Early in my freshman year in college, I fell into this disillusionment. That spark of youthful excitement for the future dulled as the days went on; eventually, I shut down completely.

Alert only to the grating sound of missed deadlines and a family that was less than satisfied with my lethargy, I was soon brought back to my senses. But shortly after being awoken by stress, I went back to sleep.

This fruitless routine couldn’t go on much longer. I had to get all my ducks in a row eventually. And so I did. Papers prepped before my laptop, I was ready to attend a synchronous class—the first of its kind for me, in many weeks. Determined, I hit “open link,” then “launch meeting,” then “join via computer audio.”

But, moments later, I was back to sleep.

Oh, the life of a wayward student: blessed with options and the freedom to choose, limited only by one’s drive and will. Who are we to complain? This line of thinking, however, is dangerous. It does little to solve one’s issues of motivation and productivity. If anything, it dissuades us from investigating the existence of other, deeper problems.

If finding scholastic achievement in an online setting is merely an issue of constitution and will, why then do so many of us falter? This question is especially pertinent for those who had found success prior to this unending community quarantine. When we talk of the issues surrounding online classes, students are often accused of laziness, negligence, and squandering our potential with the sense of sloth and inertia that has enveloped us. Many ask: How difficult can staying at home with your laptop be, anyway?

It is simplistic to blame this decline in productivity to indolence. Most of those who think this way, from what I’ve experienced, are far detached from the reality on the ground. Professors can resonate with the struggles of students in this era of education since they themselves are constantly at the forefront of online classes every day. Even with the professor’s best efforts, it takes quite some time before any student can pluck up the courage to unmute themselves on call.

The online setting has all but killed the drive of both students and teachers. People have been facing burnout on an unprecedented scale, the extent of which has resulted in a mass exodus of students via leaves, gap years, and deferments. The stimulating educational environment that came from the physical interactions and discussions between and among students is gone. In today’s fearful and anxiety-ridden atmosphere, committing oneself to study has become a wrenching task.

With what we had expected of our lives ending up so far from our reach, is scholastic struggle really such a foreign idea? Many people are simply going through a rough time at this point, student or not. Some of us went into quarantine as high-schoolers and now find ourselves about to become second-year college students. The situation the world is in, and the Philippines is in, is insane.

But don’t let that insanity get to you. Take your growth one step at a time; it’s okay to struggle. Show yourself some empathy, even when others may not do so.

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