I think our class has gotten a really unique education and understanding of some of the concepts that we studied. The habits that we initially learned in an academic setting, quickly became habits that would be really helpful for our transition into social distancing. One habit that has been specifically helpful to me this semester is ‘embracing ambiguity’. Since the day that Bucknell moved the rest of the semester to remote online classes, everyday has been unfamiliar and the future, unknown. Of course there are parts of this pandemic that are frightening, besides the fear of being infected, people are losing their jobs, people are struggling with mental health issues, and no one knows when we might return to our old lives. It isn’t irrational to panic at times, but ultimately, because there is nothing that we can do, in order to stay sane, we must somewhat embrace the ambiguity. With all of this change, a lot is lost, but there are also new opportunities. Embracing ambiguity during these times has allowed me to let go of some of my anxieties surrounding the pandemic and think more optimistically. I have mostly accepted the current state of things, and am now setting new goals to keep me optimistic. For example, I had planned to study abroad for the Fall semester with a program that traveled to Costa Rica, Australia and South Africa. I was so excited for this trip and really attached to the idea that it would happen. However, a few days ago I got notified that the trip was altered so that the first third of the classes would be taught remotely online and the second two-thirds of the trip would be taught also online but onsight in one location. I was pretty upset to get this news, because I hadn’t truly allowed myself to embrace the possibility of something like this happening. However, I was optimistic about trying to make this new program style work. I took a look at my options and saw that I could choose an entirely new location. Now, I am planning on going to Berlin (another location on my bucket list), I am able to take more classes that count towards my major, and during the first third of the semester, I will hopefully be able to spend some time on Bucknell’s campus (something that was a difficult sacrifice to make). Now, I remind myself to not be too attached to this plan, as things might change again, and a change of plans isn’t always a bad thing. I think the habit of embracing ambiguity comes a little easier to me because in my daily life I try to practice gratitude. Practicing gratitude makes it easier to realize that I am lucky to have the problem of questioning if I will get to travel the world next semester or not. When it got canceled, I was definitely disappointed, but I also felt absurd feeling too sorry for myself. As long as my family and friends are healthy and safe, I am thankful for the problems that I have, because I know they could be so terribly worse. Focusing on what I do have makes it easier to accept the unknown factors of the future.
A habit that doesn’t come as naturally to me is failing forward. When I attempt something new, I typically want to excel at it right off the bat. I understand that learning something new takes time, but I hate the idea of failing at something. I think to combat this fear and to become more comfortable with failing, I want to create challenges for myself during the quarantine. I will have a lot of time when classes end, so I think this is a perfect time to work on this habit. I want to force myself to try new things whether it be art, music, exercise, etc. For example, maybe I can challenge myself to paint a self portrait. I’m sure that would come out horribly considering I don’t remember the last time that I painted free-hand, but maybe if I become comfortable with seeing a failed outcome of something that I truly tried to accomplish will make me more comfortable with being unsuccessful. I want to adopt an attitude that is unafraid to fail and let my failures motivate me to try again.
The extra amount of time that is available to me right now in some ways is really exciting. When I am home I am usually looking to spend as much time as possible either working or with my friends. It doesn’t leave a lot of time for boredom and the creativity that spurs from having nothing to do. I have been pretty preoccupied with homework since being home, but I am excited for the semester to officially end so that I can get started with some projects that I have in mind. One ambitious project that I am thinking about is painting a mural on my bedroom wall. Hopefully with the help of some family members and maybe an artistic, masked friend I might be able to tackle the project. I never would have thought I had the time to do that before, but now I do. I think finding extended time alone is definitely a habit that I might want to adopt more in the future to seek inspiration.