Sunday 11 October 2020

Uncertainty Amidst Covid-19

Caiyun shares her experience dealing with uncertainty during COVID-19 and her different ways to cope. 

- Caiyun

The coronavirus pandemic has drastically changed our lifestyles in many ways. Students and teachers had to adjust to distanced learning/teaching; people lost their jobs and had to apply for unemployment support; fresh graduates struggled with job hunting; professionals learned to work from home; social distancing limited contact with the outside world, and the list goes on. Whether it be cancelled concerts, trips, graduation ceremonies, internships or job offers, the pandemic affected the plans we had already set in stone in one way or another. 

Before the pandemic, I was working full time at a non-profit organisation with primary school pupils. School closures happened so suddenly that I didn’t even get to say a proper goodbye to my students and colleagues. We didn’t get to have the end of the year celebrations that we planned, and my students weren’t able to perform the dances that I taught them. Like many others, the coronavirus disrupted my everyday life and my original plans, leaving me with many regrets. 

Since finishing my undergraduate degree in 2019, I planned to take a gap year to gain more professional experience before applying to do a postgraduate degree for 2021 admission. However, I’m feeling more lost with the current situation than ever and unsure of what the future holds. I’m left wondering whether I should still pursue a postgraduate degree, given the circumstances in academia at this moment. Will everything revert to ‘normal’ next year? Will I even have a chance in this application cycle with the increased competition since many are trying to pursue postgraduate degrees due to the current job market? What if I don’t have enough experience on my CV yet? Should I wait another year before applying to see how the COVID-19 situation plays out? All these questions raced through my mind, and I hated that I didn’t have answers for them. 

I tend to overthink a lot, and feelings of uncertainty heightened during the quarantine. This constant worrying took a toll on my mental health and gave me anxiety. I became more and more detached from my friends and family because I wasn’t sure how to tell them about my problems. The pandemic made me realise that life can be very unpredictable, and it won’t always play out the way you imagined. It’s important to accept those changes and learn to embrace setbacks because you will grow from the experience. Before, I always wondered about “what if” scenarios, but I’ve accepted that everything will eventually fall into place. I believe that many people also feel lost and uncertain during these difficult times, so I would like to share some tips on coping with this feeling. 

1) Set a Goal
You may have had to alter your plans because of COVID-19 but don’t let that stop you from chasing after your dreams. Once you have a goal set, it encourages you to work towards achieving it and provides direction. I realised that it’s not that I didn’t want to pursue a postgraduate degree anymore but rather that I feared rejection. Once I finally made up my mind and set postgraduate study as my goal, it motivated me to start working on my applications. For example, if you’re looking for a job, your goal can be to apply to a certain number of jobs per week. You never know what can happen if you don’t try, so don’t be afraid! Having a positive mindset will be beneficial to your mental health. 

2) Enhance your Skills
You may have lost a job or internship opportunity and feel unsure about what to do moving forward. It’s easy to fall into a lack of motivation phase. Use this time to explore new hobbies or better the skills you already have, which will enhance your CV. You may want to take some free online classes on Coursera, pick up a new language, or engage in virtual volunteer opportunities. 

3) Practise Self-Care
Rather than worrying about the future, try living in the moment and do things that make you happy! Don’t feel pressured to be productive 24/7. I find that taking some time to relax now and then really helps relieve stress. For me, dancing helps to clear my mind and makes my body feel less tense. Cooking can also be therapeutic. Other suggestions are watching Netflix, taking a walk, practising yoga, etc.

You can find support for students during the pandemic by visiting Student Space or Coronavirus Resources.

Hi, I'm Caiyun and I'm a recent graduate passionate about mental health advocacy and destigmatising mental health. I love writing and hope my posts can help other students!

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