A Love Letter to the Graduating Class of Covid 19
This is a love letter to the graduating class of Covid 19.
I, like many of you, decided to continue my academic career by undertaking a full-time Master’s program in Conflict and Development at Gent University in Belgium. In a span of this unpredictable year of suffering, loneliness, frustrations, and misinformation, we have decided to beat the odds. We had hoped to get out of this ordeal with bachelor’s degrees, some like me, with master’s degrees and others with doctorate degrees. Cheers to that!
When this first started, I’m sure most of us were happy because this unprecedented time gave us a break to check on ourselves. To catch up on sleepless nights and work at our own pace. Our minds were not in high demand and in a world where we always felt like we had to be good students, great citizens, brilliant minds, we allowed ourselves to simply be human and let our brains rest. So it is important that we acknowledge the mental toll it took on us to force our brains to work as it did pre-pandemic. It’s important to acknowledge that it was a courageous task and here we are, about to celebrate graduation.
Like most of you, I left my house, my family, my friends, and everything that encompasses my normal during this unprecedented time to go to a new, foreign land with different administration processes, left on my own to survive. As a master student, I no longer had a community of advisors and in an environment where you have to be independent, I had to bail myself out of homelessness, unforeseen eviction from a landlord, while preparing for my end-of-semester exams.
All of this has left my brain feeling tired and unavailable to retained my lecture readings or conduct my master thesis without wanting to fall back to sleep. This lack of will from my brain to perform its task stressed me out to the point I resorted to taking sleeping pills in order to do something that is as necessary to a human being as breathing. The unnatural nights of sleep I was able to obtain did not do anything to help me stop procrastinating which frustrated me even more. I had several mental breakdowns before deciding to go seek professional help. For a couple of weeks, I wonder if my degree will mean anything. I wondered if will I be comfortable in my own skin knowing that I did not do the essential work I needed to do to get it. I felt like that kid who was bragging he passed a class in high school with a D+. After a conversation with my supervisor, we decided that I will present later than was intended because degrees are worthless if you don’t have anything to show for it. So that’s what covid helped reiterate in me. Life is worthless when you are sprinting to reach the end goal. Take your time. The world existed before you, it will remain after you. All you can control is the individual techniques you used to run the marathon. So to the Class of Covid 19, as you get your first, your second, or third degrees, I hope you have enjoyed running the marathon at this peculiar moment. I hope you came out of this understanding your strengths and admiring the long road it took to get here. I hope as you walk down the aisle or you celebrate your graduation virtually, that you understand the magnitude of what you have been able to accomplish during this time. I hope this experience has taught you that you are tougher than you may look. Congratulations!
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