We keep saying that once ‘all this’ is finished, we will go back to normal. Well, the news is: we won’t. There are a lot of things we are not going back to and a bunch of new norms we have to adapt to. With all the spiritual epiphany out of the way, we have to focus on specific areas of our lives that will never be the same and on how not to suffer greater losses in this brand new present.
1) Setting Goals, Making Plans
If there is anything to take away from this entertaining year, it is that we cannot make plans ahead. Indeed, it is helpful to think out every little detail and write a long-term strategy to follow throughout your life. In reality, this plan serves merely as a comforting idea, an idol in uncertain times.
Setting goals, however, is healthy and recommended by every motivational speaker, therapist or podcast. Goals are definite; they are something you will achieve no matter the circumstances and time.
Set goals but don’t make intricate plans. If your goal was to graduate and get a job, well now there is time to rethink your career choices, to figure out if that is really what you want. If you had no goals before, this is the time to sit down with yourself and write down some short-term and long-term goals. One way or another, sooner or later, the goal will be reached but the ‘how’ is a completely different story that should not be stressed so much.
Higher education has always been an icky topic and a long-standing issue for debate. Many argue that college is insignificant, whereas others see no possible way of landing a decent vocation without a degree.
For many of us who are already in college, be it first or last year, there are some very disturbing realities we have to face in the middle of the pandemic. Students all over the world are struggling with their academic future at this very moment, clueless as to whether they can continue their courses or travel abroad for the fall semester.
When the pandemic hit, quarantine set in and universities closed, international students studying abroad found themselves in a fight-or-flight mode. Except, there was no direct ‘fight’ option, only to fight to get back home as soon as possible. Universities all over the world closed the residences down, forcing students to leave with their entire belongings god knows where. Five months have passed since that ominous day and students are still confused, frightened and shocked. Is my university doing online classes next semester? How am I going to renew my visa? What if I left all my things there? No one is able to give an answer to all these pending questions and no one will for a few more months.
If applying to a university and getting in was the only hardship before, right now it is struggling to stay at the university with all the external issues trying to keep you out.
There are two main options for students right now. A) If your university is doing online classes, consider staying at home (/your home country) to save some funds. B) Do on campus classes like nothing ever happened. Many will choose the first one for different reasons and, to be frank, this is the best option for all students no matter the financial circumstances or other factors that force us to make this decision. After all, the virus is nowhere near to be gone and no one cancelled the safety regulations just yet.
3) Job Prospects
2020 is nobody’s year, we can all agree on that. But it is definitely the worst year for the job market and fresh graduates.
In the last five months, society has taken a powerful step towards working and living online. In the months to come, employers will contemplate whether there is a point in overcrowded offices, if much of the work can be done remotely. Economic losses will force companies to look for a way to reduce costs, one of which is renting large-space offices. Everything that can be done without physical contact will be done in this mode more often, and this applies in particular to the public services sector.
Prepare to work remotely. Finding a job as a fresh graduate in 2020-2021 most likely implies staying indoors in pjs and wearing a shirt and a tie for online conferences only (no trousers or skirts, of course).
Those who hate the idea of staying home and would much rather prefer to work in-office blame quarantine for literally trapping inside their homes. We cannot predict how the future could have turned out if there had not been a pandemic at all but what we can say with ease is that people would have realised one way or another that there is a better alternative to constant commutes, uncomfortable suits and annoying co-workers. What the pandemic did is simply speed up the process of that realisation, making it instant instead of gradual. The same applies for education.
Now, some believe that online work is not for long. Unfortunately, the main rule of capitalism club is that if it helps you make money, it is good, but if it helps you save money, it is far better. Let’s see how things will unravel for the next generations of workers.
4) Mental Health
Naturally, we can notice ourselves and our loved ones experiencing various reactions to what is happening: denial, disassociation, fear of infection, frustration, boredom, anger, and stressful reactions to resources (food, money, housing). Many people may face emotional and psychological difficulties during this period, including those who were quite resilient before the crisis.
The World Health Organization has published a list to the world population with recommendations for the preservation of psychological health. Among them:
- Maintain your social ties. Physical isolation in modern times is not an obstacle to emotional or professional connection. Call, write to each other, and hold video conferences. As much as possible try to keep to your personal schedule, the structure of the day.
- In stressful moments, pay attention to your needs and feelings. Include healthy activities in your daily schedule that you like and help you relax. Get on with your body, stick to your sleep schedule and take care of the quality of your food.
- A constant, powerful stream of news about virus dynamics can cause anxiety. Choose a specific time of the day at which you can keep track of the news and WHO practical advice. Avoid rumors and untested sources of information.
We have to allow ourselves to feel depressed about the situation and most importantly, not to fall victim to comparative suffering. When others suffer harsher effects of the pandemic, there is no need to blame yourself for being ungrateful, unproductive and undeserving. We cope with the situation as best we can.
A startling six months ago, no one was prepared to live in isolation for two or more months. Now it has become the highlight of life experience for millions of people. Many things have changed but the core of human nature remained untouched – our adaptability.