In Their Own Words

What the pandemic has taught me

During the pandemic, life became much simpler as my whole life was moved online. At first, this seemed like a breeze. Staying at home every day, saving commute time, staying in bed for class, etc. In reality, this turned into hours of screen time, not keeping up with my physical health, a lack of new challenges, and putting my hobbies aside.

I felt as though I was almost developing an aversion to discipline, realizing that impulse was not always in my best interest. My initial rejection of discipline, however, left me with space to re-approach my values and goals. I took a step back to evaluate this aversion and worked to ensure that I was taking time to take care of myself, work toward my goals, and advocate for matters important to me.

As such, I started to step out of my comfort zone to pursue new opportunities. I began undergraduate research, started advocating for action against food insecurity, and started volunteering to work with students. Each new opportunity came with its own set of challenges.

There were many occasions when I felt overwhelmed. It took time for me to learn that sometimes progress meant taking one step back and two steps forward, and that growth was not always linear.

I discovered that practicing self-compassion also meant disciplining myself to work toward new goals. It was necessary to step out of my comfort zone to observe long-term growth. It would have been immensely easier not to put in the time or effort to pursue new opportunities and take on new challenges.

However, I came to realize that the easy route does not always mean the better route. I would have missed out on learning new skills and making new connections. I have not only translated the virtue of discipline into balancing academic and professional goals, but in my personal life in maintaining my physical and mental well-being, as well as my relationships with family and friends.

Through the circumstances of the pandemic, I have gained a newfound appreciation for enduring failures, overcoming challenges and celebrating success as part of maintaining accountability to myself in practicing discipline to observe long-term growth and maintain my well-being.

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