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The social awkwardness many have gained over the pandemic is affecting our conversations in person

By: Ardena Bašić, Contributor

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives in more ways than we could have ever imagined, one of the most potent impacts have been on our social lives. While the most obvious changes have been with regards to the way we interact with those around us regularly, either by a physical or virtual distance, our more casual, everyday interactions have also been significantly affected. 

Before the world was forced to respond to a global health crisis, it was seemingly easy to start general, unprompted conversation. Walking through a library, hallway or even classroom meant endless opportunities for communication. However, as we changed to a virtual platform of school and work operations, this was almost impossible. One would have to deliberately present themselves online in a way that would advance the proposition of small talk. In other words, turning on one’s camera and microphone on zoom, despite how uninviting it may be for some. Being deprived of such interactions for a prolonged period means that we do so now with less confidence and find it increasingly unnatural

This notion likely sounds all too familiar to students who are slowly acclimating to being on campus again. Seeing classmates and friends around campus and town was exciting at first, but the social engagement was ultimately quite draining considering the lack of such meetings for the past year and a half. Furthermore, initiating casual interactions with strangers around campus is much less enticing. As appealing as it may sound to say “hi” or find solidarity in the endless amount of schoolwork university seems to entail, it is daunting after a long period without such practice. 

As appealing as it may sound to say “hi” or find solidarity in the endless amount of schoolwork university seems to entail, it is daunting after a long period without such practice. 

Ardena Bašić, Contributor

The other negative implication of this lies in the idea of mentorship. Having an upper year student, regardless of whether they are in your program or not, is invaluable in terms of guidance and advice. Knowing what a professor may prefer for assignments, what study methods to use for a particular class or what lectures to never miss is especially helpful for first- and second-year students, many of whom are still adjusting to the expectations of university. Through our newfound discomfort in casual interactions, we are missing out on the opportunity to build these relationships while out on campus. Whilst virtual mentorship programs are providing one solution, the solidarity that arises from meeting someone in public who you can relate to is unobtainable through online platforms. 

Whilst virtual mentorship programs are providing one solution, the solidarity that arises from meeting someone in public who you can relate to is unobtainable through online platforms.

Ardena Bašić, Contributor

Lastly, after being at home for so long, many of us are excited about the opportunity to make new friends on campus. Yet, given our trepidation to approach new faces, this is made even more difficult. As a result, we are still relying on social media and virtual platforms to interact with one another, increasingly diminishing our tangible sense of friendship. As eager as we are to return to a semblance of normality, the habits and routines we have developed over the past year must be conquered — or at the very least revised — first.

 COVID-19 has given us yet another obstacle that we must overcome in order to live regular lives once again. There is so much benefit in being able to spontaneously interact with those around us. A slow, gradual approach to such encounters will likely be most comfortable for some, but don’t forget that we are all experiencing this same effect to some extent. As a society, we can find solidarity in the fact that we are going through this ordeal now, just like we will find solidarity in experiencing a re-introduction to a more social society together in the future.

Photo by Kyle West

By: Saadia Shahid

How does a student get good grades? I know the most obvious answer being shouted out is “by studying, of course,” with some sarcastic replies of “watching Netflix” thrown in the mix. But what if I told you both those answers were correct?

A balance of socializing and studying, which can include watching Netflix, is necessary to achieve those highly sought-after grades.

Though our cognitive needs are met by virtue of being university students, it is our need for "love and belongingness" that is present on Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Socializing is a basic human need. To become functioning members of the society, we must engage in leisure activities.

Yet, we almost never put time aside to socialize with our friends. Even when we do, studying takes precedence and ends up taking over the time we allocated for socializing.

This is often a result of procrastination. Whether it is procrastinating by scrolling through clickbait articles or watching videos, when we procrastinate, we take away time from both socializing and studying.

Procrastination is also looked down upon so badly. Rarely do we try to understand why the person might be engaging in procrastination. Procrastination is a sign of anxiety.

In my opinion, procrastination is often a hugely unrecognized sign, too. Besides anxiety, procrastinating habits have been linked to depression and low self-esteem.

If you find your friend procrastinating, don’t “leave them alone so they can study”. Study with them. If left alone, they may continue procrastinating for even longer, and worsen their mental health.

Some people do emphasize their preference for studying alone. In that case, make sure they’re okay and continually check on their progress and their mental health. In severe cases of anxiety, they may even lie about it.

As a perfectionist, I speak from experience. My habit of procrastination stemmed from being anxious about the imperfect outcome that might ensue. As a result, I took longer getting started on assignments with the thought that if I didn’t do well, I could justify it by telling myself that I didn’t have enough time.

So far this year, I have been doing better as I have come to terms with the non-existent nature of perfection. This is something creatives struggle with as well. Things like “is this good enough?”, “should I post this now?” and “I want to make this better” are examples of what goes through their minds on a regular basis.

So how do you achieve the grade you’ve been aiming for? Consistency is the answer. Being consistently diligent with your workflow will not just aid in improving your skills, but also get you your coveted grade. Doing well in a course is a long-term goal, and definitely doesn’t occur when you start an assignment a day before its due.

Procrastination also leads to long hours of isolation in the library behind laptop screens or a stack of books, taking away the satisfaction of “love and belongingness”, and according to Maslow, halting an individual’s growth.

So, the next time you find your friend procrastinating, ask them why, take them out to get them relaxed and help them get started on their studying. Mental health is no light issue.

 

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Like many other stressed students in my life, as of late I have been finding solace in procrastinating on Yik Yak, an anonymous Twitter-esque app restricted to your area. This all started when my roommate shared one of the most unbelievable Yaks I had ever read. There’s no refined way of putting this: the anonymous poster had stuck an everyday object up an unmentionable body orifice and decided to consult the Yik Yak world for advice on how to have it removed. My first question wasn’t how said item was lodged in said location (I think most of us could figure it out) but instead why the user decided to consult Yik Yak for medical advice. After spending most of my nights scrolling through endless Yaks, I’ve come to the conclusion that anonymity brings out the Internet troll in all of us, and I wonder, is it possible to get a troll to give you reasonable advice?

As much as I appreciated the guidance, I think I will pass on approaching him naked.

So, I Yik’ed and I Yak’ed and I asked a few questions. For someone who has been trying to get into yoga for the longest time, I thought I could get some advice on increasing my flexibility. Innocent me was simply looking for some stretches, but apparently the only things people wanted to advise me about were difficult sex positions. Well, I figured, if this was the advice that Yakkers were sending me, maybe I should ask for their help with the first step — resolving my non-existent love life. When asking how to hit on the attractive guy in my tutorial, the quality of replies was lacking. As much as I appreciated the guidance, I think I will pass on approaching him naked. At the expense of my dating life, I’ll elect to keep my dignity intact. Thanks for trying, anonymous Yik Yakker.

So after seeking out guidance from an anonymous social media source, I’ve learned that comments on Yik Yak are for the most part made in good spirit, even if the content does not answer the question at hand. Despite unhelpful advice, I will say that some comments did make me laugh, and maybe that’s enough. Even though they say laughter is the best medicine, the exception is if you have lost something up where the sun don’t shine — when faced with that problem, please, for the love of god, seek out a doctor.

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