The first semester of the 2020-2021 academic year is finally drawing to an end. While it might have been unimaginable to actually see an end, we have now reached a point where we can look back on the individual experiences we each had during this semester. I know that right now is an extremely busy and hectic time for a lot of students, but there are certain things that we should not take for granted during this time. So, put down your moving boxes, find a comfortable place to sit, and really begin to reflect on this semester as I give you a basic reflection guide to follow.
2020 was a tragedy, but…..
It does not mean we can’t be optimistic about the next year. Each and every single person has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Its effects, however, differ from person to person. It is important to recognize the challenges we faced due to the pandemic, but it is equally important to understand how we are going to embrace the new year. I am not talking about an obligatory New Year’s resolution list. I am talking about applying what we all learned from this year to the next year. Some of us might have learned how to be more patient with our given situation. Some of us might have learned how to embrace new challenges and be encouraged by community and family. While it is impossible to predict what the next year will look like (I mean, look at how 2020 panned out), it is possible, and extremely beneficial, to reflect on the character we built this semester so we can better prepare ourselves for the new year.
Grades do not determine the success you achieved this semester
I know many people might be upset with themselves and their grades. Boston College is an academically rigorous environment with a lot of bright, young students. But, just because your grades do not reflect the expectations you set for yourself, does not mean it was an unsuccessful semester. The things we learn as we go through life are more valuable than the letter grade we get to evaluate our performance. Learning how to handle living alone for the first time, making new friends, and trying new things to further discover yourself are more rewarding than shutting yourself out from the world just to achieve a grade. As we grow older, we realize that school is not everything and that the personal connections we create are what make life more meaningful. Reflect on some of the new faces you met or the new challenges that really shaped your character. Reward yourself for seeing an improvement in your character, while still thinking about how you can better prepare yourself for the academic rigor ahead at BC.
Gather with friends and reflect on memories
2020 was an eventful year, and I am sure there will not be a shortage of stories to share among you and your friends. I encourage you to meet with some of your closest friends to sit down and share how this year has affected you mentally, emotionally, physically, and even spiritually. During this time, make sure to be open minded to what people have to say—always be slow to speak and quick to listen. You might find that some of the things your friends have to say are very personal to them, and it can really deepen your friendship. It’s these moments of reflection and dependence that allow us to draw closer to one another. The success of these conversations is genuinely dependent on how willing you are to listen to your peers. Side note: Don’t try to give advice or helpful criticism during this time, just be open to listening and see where the conversation goes. You will find that you and your friends have many common experiences to share.
Finally, write yourself a letter
I know this sounds cheesy, but write a letter to yourself that states how you felt during this year. We all experienced successes, failures, pain, and happiness. Contextualizing all of these experiences is important, as it gives us a more succinct outlook on our future. Don’t forget the memories you made this year because they are the ones that will stick with us for years to come. Write a letter to yourself detailing your experiences this year, and then set goals and expectations for next year. While it is hard to predict the course of life, this is a form of encouragement to set forth a brighter outlook for next year. Don’t walk into next year discouraged by how this year affected you. Instead, begin the year excited to start a new chapter of your life with the knowledge and experience you gained from the last one
Graphic by Olivia Charbonneau / Heights Editor