Despite the semester starting just like any other, the spring semester of 2020 will forever be remembered. The spread of COVID-19 effectively changed life as we knew it starting in March 2020, and has continued to shape our lives ever since. I never imagined when I left for spring break that I would not return to campus or to physical classes for the rest of the semester. I know that a lot of students feel the same, and I know that the decision for this transition to online classes was not made lightly. I know that COVID-19 has wrecked havoc on many lives, not just students. However, instead of focusing on how challenging this time has been for everyone worldwide, I want to focus on what living through this unprecedented time has taught me.
The major lesson that I learned was expectation management. As all of the things I loved about being on campus in the spring were taken away, I realized that I had expected all of these things to happen. I expected to see the Oval crowded with people on the first warm day. I expected to attend the football spring game. I expected that the semester would continue as normal. I had these expectations without even realizing that I had them. I began to understand why the entire online learning situation was so jarring and uncomfortable: my expectations were constantly not being met.
I’m sure that everyone at some point in their lives has had a friend recommend a movie to them. And when a friend speaks highly of a movie and convinces you to watch it, you expect it to be amazing. Normally the movie ends up being subpar simply because your expectations of it were too high. When expectations aren’t met, there is a feeling of disappointment and frustration. This was the feeling that I had constantly, and I’m sure many other students (especially seniors) had this feeling. However, this uncomfortable feeling can be avoided if expectations are properly managed.
I started this semester with a lot of normal, reasonable expectations. As problems presented themselves and situations changed, I had to learn to better manage my expectations so that I wasn’t constantly feeling let down. My expectations needed to evolve into something more feasible for the current situation. Expectation management doesn’t only apply to living through a pandemic; it applies to every day life. Imagine how much happier people would be if their expectations were almost always met, not because their expectations were too low, but because they were able to adjust their expectations to better fit evolving situations.
I didn’t realize expectation management was a skill before this semester began. I especially didn’t realize how impactful it would be on my well-being and happiness. Expectation management is a lot easier said than done, but I was able to practice this skill more during the spring semester. I know this skill will come in handy in the months to come as situations continue to evolve, and I look forward to being able to share this skill with my friends and classmates when classes finally return to normal.
Some fun campus memories. I look forward to making more when things return to normal!