Founder’s Week Blog Winners: “Let’s just make it to second semester”
This article won second place in the 2020 Founder’s Week students’ blog competition. Students were required to submit a 350 – 1000 words article on their experience of the pandemic based on this year’s Founder’s Week theme: Don’t Just Survive, Thrive
That phrase right there was practically the theme for all first years beginning their classes online, probably because it’s what I kept repeating to anyone else who would wish to hear about my thoughts on online learning.
The thing that was particularly hilarious is that we (especially me) kept repeating this over and over like some kind of Buddhist mantra, as if the minute the second semester started all our problems would be magically fixed.
But first semester wasn’t moving fast enough, and soon the theme lost its lustre as I became more attuned to the demands of online learning. A few weeks into the semester, during a particularly interesting Philosophical anthropology lesson, where the professor remarked on her confidence in us and how she expected some very good grades, I suddenly realised that I didn’t just want to pass her class, I actually wanted to excel.
Ok, so maybe I am pushing it a little by saying that. But as cheesy as it sounds, I came to the remarkable conclusion that surviving first term wasn’t good enough for me.
I wanted to thrive.
That very moment comes again to my mind as I saw the Founder’s day slogan and read more about St. Josemaria and his journey. He truly believed in love and its impact in not only your life and work but the impact your love could bring to others.
I remember when I first received news that I was going to start my first year online. At that time I had only been to the University grounds once, and only to do an entrance test. It was a blow to the face, mainly because I was so ready to leave home and start a new chapter in my life. It felt like God was punishing me for all the times I promised him something, then went right ahead to do the complete opposite. I was angry and frustrated, why would he give me a chance to attend a great university, then proceed to tell me “My child, you won’t be physically there”. This morose thinking was the mind-set I had chosen for those first few weeks and it was affecting my work, daily-life and health.
I said I had “chosen” because it is true. I chose to think that I will never be able to do well in an online environment, I chose to only put enough effort to meet the low pass mark, and lastly I chose to believe that I had no options at all. St. Josemaria could have given up when they persecuted him relentlessly during the Spanish revolution. But despite the inopportune conditions and point in history, he continued to carry out his priestly duties. He knew he had options; he could have given himself up, or denied himself as a priest or even refused to think positively of the situation. However, he did not, but decided if he was going to be put through hard times, it was for a greater reason than he understood. He never let go of his faith and his mission. After the revolution ended he went back to his work, stronger than before.
With time I realised that in order for me to shake my melancholy attitude; I had to embrace this new situation, make the most of it and love what I was doing. I began to take advantage of being home with my family instead of resenting it, or taking the time to help out when it was needed rather than complaining constantly. Enjoying the things I had before me that I may not see anywhere else, like our family movie night, or even sharing my small victories with my friends just the things that just made me smile and lastly, and taking the time to reflect because I never realised how little we actually do of this.
So second semester has just started, and I am pretty glad I figured this all out in the first because the work load doesn’t lessen, it increases. So for all the first years out there, the difference between surviving and thriving is that – Surviving is aiming to make it just past the marathon finish line, while Thriving is to make it past the line with your best time, a smile on your face and already a promise for another run on a greater day.
This article was written by Michelle Chekwoti, a first year Bachelor of Commerce student.
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