Photo Courtesy of Thought Catalog on Unsplash
When distance learning was implemented over six months ago, we scrambled to adjust. After a summer of rest, recuperation and preparation, we returned to school like seasoned veterans, motivated to learn once again. The turn to midterm season marks the second half of the semester, yet time seems to pass just as aimlessly as it did in March and monotony has devastated our concentration.
If we have truly conformed to quarantine life, then why does moving forward still feel like trudging through mud? Amy Arnsten, a neuroscience and psychology professor at Yale University, said “ambiently knowing that the situation is not improving can have an effect on the ability to function.”
For approximately the last two decades of our lives we have developed habits and rituals around our environments that have been all but shattered. Creating new routines that contrast the patterns of our upbringing has thrown us entirely off balance and erased our motivation.
INTRINSIC VS. EXTRINSIC
Our motivation stems from two different areas—external influences and internal interests. The pandemic has jeopardized both. Intrinsic motivation has been guillotined by closed access to many of our hobbies, like sports and hanging out with friends, and barred by our extrinsic motivations. As students, much of our extrinsic motivation would be our grades, arguably abstract letters whose meaning is harder and harder to discern in the face of a deadly virus.
According to The Independent, quarantine has driven our external motivators, the things we follow for the sake of reward, to “[make] us face something that feels like lethargy and meaninglessness.”
The answer is to find the meaning. In the mundane homework assignment, in the boring house chore, in the labor it takes to get out of bed there is a purpose. We do our homework for the hope of a future, our chores for the sake of the others we are living with and as Christians we get up in the morning because we are called to be stewards of the earth and glorify God in our actions.
COOPED UP INDOORS
It feels as though we have skipped over the fall semester frenzy and immediately jumped to our holed up winter break lifestyles. Most of us are not getting outside enough anymore. Without campus life, we are no longer walking to and from class, studying at Common Grounds or joining intramurals. Some still have jobs, still have to go grocery shopping and still see their local friends on occasion. But the majority of us would likely say that we are not leaving our homes on a daily basis, even to step into the backyard.
Although the cooling weather may give us excuses to stay indoors, it is deeply unhealthy in the long run. Our bodies require frequent doses of Vitamin D from sunlight and exposure to plant life. These natural sources have proven to boost energy levels and reduce depression—two key obstacles impacting our motivation levels.
Finding a place outdoors to study and attend classes or even taking a break from homework to walk down the street might make school a little less of a chore and give the illusion of returning to a normal routine.
ERA OF UNCERTAINTY
For many, the anxiety of the coronavirus itself may have passed, but the repercussions of the continuing pandemic are cause for concern when it comes to our futures. Although we are still pursuing our degrees, our careers are threatened by the unpredictable length of this quarantine. Numerous summer 2020 internships were canceled and many remote opportunities lacked the full experience of the job. The internships for this upcoming summer have slim chances of being fully reinstated, displacing upperclassmen from their career paths.
How are we meant to stay motivated when everything we have learned up to this point on how to land a job has been rendered largely obsolete? It seems hard to strive for something when the goal has been majorly obstructed.
Luckily, we do have the Biola Career Center to help navigate these murky waters and unexpected difficulties in searching for jobs and internships.
For some it may feel like we are in a hole we cannot crawl out of. Looking at the bigger picture seems impossible when the picture is unpredictable, but the picture has always been unpredictable and will always remain unpredictable. Only God knows our future, so we must “cast all [our] anxieties” on him and trust that he will care for us as we battle through this pandemic.