Creator is exactly Michael Dioguardi
2020-08-21While I have been incredibly fortunate to remain shielded from the harsher effects the pandemic has wrought on so many families and individuals over the course of the past year, I have faced a multitude of inner challenges in the transition from high school to college. Attending college, in the most normal of times, can prove a formidable adversary for those like myself who struggle with anxiety. Navigating a new campus, facing distance from loved ones, and managing an increase in course load all were deeply concerning facets of the experience in my eyes, even when a global pandemic was an inconceivable complication to these already daunting tasks. Most paramount of my worries, perhaps, was the social aspect of college. Though incoming freshmen are often reminded that this is an area of insecurity common to every new student, the restrictions that students were dealt amplified my ever-growing hesitations. Mandatory isolation, lack of social gatherings, and limited opportunities to meet others culminated into the manifestation of my deepest social anxieties. If I couldn’t cope with the pressures of normal interaction, how could I be expected to thrive in an environment barren of the very opportunity? I spent many nights leading up to the looming day of move-in sitting on the couch with my parents, often talking until the early hours of the morning. I was, at first, hesitant to express my feelings and risk sounding ungrateful or ignorant of the great privilege I possessed. So many people yearned to be in the position that I myself wanted any way out of. I was thankful for the opportunities that I had been given, and I felt that squandering them and conceding to my anxious preconceptions would be an insult to all those who weren’t given the same chance under the difficult circumstances the pandemic established. After many hours of deliberation with my family, I felt that letting my increasing social anxiety dictate my future would be disposing of a precious opportunity for personal growth. When the day of move-in arrived, it was impossible to ignore the pit in my stomach and the tightening in my chest once my parents had said their goodbyes and departed. Though I couldn’t have felt more alone in that moment, I quickly learned that this was far from the case. After only a brief period of awkward silence, my roommate and I set about decorating our space with posters representative of our shared taste in music and love of hockey, interests we soon found to be shared among a small group of people in our building. Through our conversations that first night, it was not only clear that good friends are much closer than my anxiety would have liked to admit, but also that we were going to establish a deep bond in experiencing the often challenging, always unique adventure of attending college in a pandemic.