COLUMN — Drowning in school

I can handle the loneliness. I’m a homebody: I happily roll out of bed, plop down on my office chair, only to nestle in my bed after just a few hours in my online class. It’s heaven. What I can’t handle, are all the crying sessions and full-on breakdowns I’ve been having about all the nearing deadlines, the constant onslaught of emails, and the lack of clear communication from my school.

During the first semester in lockdown, I felt a sense of togetherness with teachers and with students. Teachers, and students, were dunked in an ice bath of uncertainty. Nobody knew how anything worked. We were all just fumbling through it all, trying to make it out of the virtual school-world in one piece. It was chaotic, unorganized, and at times irritating, but we were in it together. *cue “we’re all in this together” from ‘High School Musical’*

Well, this semester is the opposite. While I felt their empathy for students last year, this school year, the school just dropped me like a sack of potatoes, patting my head with a ‘there, there’ while walking along. Teachers were prepared to go online. They had their technological backups and a basket full of virtual-learning-proof assignments.

But I wasn’t ready, and I still am very much not ready. I’ve been trying to balance all the different platforms, assignments, and, my god, the never-ending influx of emails that aren’t even addressed to me. It’s like I’m standing on a circus ball, juggling a bunch of plates. I don’t work in a circus and am extremely clumsy, so that clearly wouldn’t work — which is why this semester is also not working.

I am physically and mentally drained from juggling all those emails. I’ve crashed down hard from my circus ball into a swamp that I can’t get out of. I’m drowning in muddy water, trying to hold my head above the water while the mud keeps dragging me down.

There are still teachers that are trying their best and showing understanding. My problem is more with the school administration. Students’ complaints, their frustrations, fall on deaf ears. It is infuriating. I’m screaming into the void while all I want is to be heard. I don’t expect teachers to cancel assignments, but the least I should expect is to be listened to. Instead, it feels like I’m talking to a brick wall. And you can’t ask for empathy from a brick wall.

Text: M VL, photo: Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels