The COVID-19 pandemic started the last few months of my junior year of college. Just like everyone else, I was not prepared for the changes it made to my daily life.  One of the biggest things I worried about was how it would affect my ability to complete my last year and graduate. Would I have to take a semester off? The entire year off? I knew a lot of people were doing that. It wasn’t yet known if campus was going to be fully remote and a lot of people weren’t comfortable with being on campus. Myself included. I toyed with the idea before deciding to finish the year like I had planned.

That summer was spent with the constant worry over how the school year would go. When I got the news that the students wouldn’t return to campus, while I was relieved, I had no idea how the semester would play out.

The adjustment wasn’t easy. Especially in the beginning. I found it difficult to connect with my professors and classmates over Zoom. Some of my classes didn’t even have a Zoom meeting time, so I was left completely on my own to figure out the material. Office hours were always packed so I never got much one-on-one time with my professors. I started to regret not taking the semester off. The year dragged on and every assignment felt monotonous. Being at home, it was hard to focus. It was difficult to fully throw myself in like I did while physically being on campus. What was supposed to be a year full of excitement felt empty and long. It seemed it would never end and I experienced burnout in a way I hadn’t before.

While I never want to experience that again, one thing I will say about that time was that it made me realize how resilient I actually am. All the moments where I felt like I wanted to give up, I didn’t. I continued to push and in the end, I did it. I completed my final year of college.

Sometimes we don’t know how strong and resilient we are until we face moments that challenge us and make us scared and uncomfortable. Embrace these moments. They teach us more than we realize.