The last academic year was rubbish, here is how to make this one the best yet

Everyone needs their own timeline to reach a comfortable place in our new normal

As the new academic year approaches, everyone is hoping to get back to normal. To be a part of societies’ teams, not a part of Microsoft Teams; to navigate around campus, not between one’s bedroom and kitchen; to enjoy the student experience through actually living it, not hearing, or reading about it.  

However, no matter how much we hope we can go back to life before Covid, the normal as we remember it will most likely remain in the pre-pandemic past.

Life as we know it is the new normal, the one in which we all have to cooperate to make it work. The one in which we all have to be more understanding towards each other and towards ourselves. 

In these challenging times, there are ways we can all be mindful of each other after being in continuous lockdowns, tiers, and self-isolations.

1. Respect each others safety

From personal experience, I know that around-pandemic topics can start a wildfire in family relationships and friendships. There is a lot of opinions, misinformation and debates about who will get to say “I told you so” in the end. Whatever choices you are making personally, remember that as a university, we are one community that works the best when all of its members show respect towards each other.

The University of Lincoln has asked students to wear face coverings in all indoor spaces, as well as encourage students and staff members to get vaccinated and regularly tested. It is vital to think about these things as tailored to keep a whole community safe, not just one person satisfied.

2. Everyone needs their own time

After a year of watching the world mostly out of the window, getting into a high-paced, busy, and socially intense student life can make people feel two ways: either longing for it or running away from it. With post-lockdown anxiety being an issue for many, we have to understand that lots of social situations some of us cannot wait for are a potential source of stress for others. We should ensure to give each other space and time to those who need it to ease into the new normal.

I also thought that after months of having my own company as the only option, I will jump right into a crowd of people, hugging strangers as soon as possible. It turned out that my social anxiety skyrocketed, and I have to work a lot harder to keep it in check, even in seemingly simple situations. 

If you are noticing similar changes in your friends or classmates, do not walk away from it. Show support, let them know you understand. Let them be honest, not apologetic about how they feel. Everyone needs their own timeline to reach a comfortable place in our new normal. 

If you are struggling with your mental health following the reopening of the country, support from the university can be found here.

3. Look after yourself

 Mental health became a huge part of our lives, especially within student communities. Or more so, being open about having issues with it became a huge part of our lives. We learnt how to be mindful of other people’s circumstances, and how to show up for them. But more importantly, we learnt how to show up for ourselves.

The same scenario you were at ease with a year ago might be too much or too challenging today. Instead of forcing yourself to be ‘like before’, be comfortable with how you feel now. If we are all honest about our newly discovered boundaries, there will be less space for feeling anxious or excluded. 

This past year had left a mark on each of us. Whether it was a smooth ride or a rickety path, we have all (at least, I hope so) learnt the same lesson. The new reality we live in will work only if we respect the safety of all, we show up for each other and keep checking on ourselves. 

Related stories recommended by this writer:

All of the mental health services available at Uni of Lincoln

UoL advises students to have their first Covid vaccination before travelling to Lincoln

All the wonderful societies you should join this year