Looking at the calendar to see that we’re nearing two months of having been back in school, it doesn’t feel like two months at all. In my mind, orientation was yesterday and graduation is tomorrow. Plugging through first quarter due date by due date, especially in a time as abnormal as this, any sense of time is warped beyond recognition. My advisee group often talks about how we seniors feel like junior year never ended, that this so-called “senior season” is just junior year part two. We had no final sports season, no moving into new seats in Roberts, and pretty much anybody walks on the senior green. The lack of all the traditional things that truly mark a senior year at KO makes it hard to see this year as special or exciting. Instead of the emotional and exciting beginnings of an end, I’ve found senior year to be a surreal jumble of college-fueled panic and miscellaneous other stressors.
Despite the surrealness of it, we’re extremely lucky to still be in-person. It’s easy to get caught up in the loss of a sports season or how scratchy your mask is. Regardless, disappointment doesn’t have to overtake everything that has worked out: we’re still on campus full time. While we absolutely should be taking guidelines and protocols seriously, this doesn’t have to be at the expense of enjoying the time we have here. We can keep each other safe without having to sacrifice the positive community we left behind in March, but in some ways, it feels like we have. So much work was put into ensuring that we could at least have the fall semester in-person, and we all wanted to come back because of the enthusiastic community we value. Starting a school year with so many restrictions makes it difficult to connect with people for sure, but there’s also a disconnect between people in the community that’s hard to ignore.
Nothing this year is easy. Freshmen have to figure out a whole new social life without seeing anyone’s entire face. Sophomores thought they had everything figured out only to have to start all over again. Juniors have their toughest academic year to stress over on top of everything else. Seniors are expected to set the example during a time that there is no model for. Regardless, there’s no point in staying on campus unless there’s motivation to be here. Staying positive is important, but giving people reason to be excited about how lucky we are to be here is even more so. Participating in class even though it’s hard with the mask on, attending clubs able to meet in person, more (distanced!) gatherings like the fall fun celebration are all relatively simple ways to keep energy high as we enter the winter months. We all need to work to make the effort put into being with each other worth it.