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[New School] My worries and fears about face-to-face classes as a college student

Jhon Axcel Beltran
[New School] My worries and fears about face-to-face classes as a college student
'Growth entails courage. And fear is part of courage.'

There’s something about the reopening of schools and universities for face-to-face classes that worries me. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m one of those students who desperately need and want to go back to school, live life as a college student, meet my professors, classmates, and online friends…but most importantly, I want to reclaim everything the pandemic took from me. Like most of you, I’m beyond excited too, but whenever I think of it, I can’t help but ask myself — am I really ready for this new phase in my life? 

When the classes at the University of the Philippines-Los Baños start in September, it will be my first time living alone and away from my family. While I do want independence, it also scares me. Living alone means having your own expenses, bills, and errands. Amidst a high inflation rate, budgeting will really be a challenge. To top it all off, there’s no increase yet in the wages of public school teachers. My mom — a public school teacher — has to make ends meet and budget my allowance and that of my three other siblings who are still in high school. 

Similarly, time needs to be budgeted. Currently, I have five organizations that I need to juggle. The online setup already poses a challenge when managing five organizations. I can only imagine how it will be when the face-to-face classes begin. Plus, the time for personal errands like doing groceries and paying bills will surely be a needle in a haystack. 

It’s an understatement to say that I’m also worried about mingling and socializing with other people in a face-to-face setup. After all, college is a whole different world. This is where you get to meet all kinds of people from different walks of life. Honestly, if the pandemic didn’t happen, I probably wouldn’t be worried about this because I am an extrovert. You can say I am a “people-person;” I get my energy from socializing.

But it’s time to face the hard truth: we are no longer the same person that we were two years ago. 

Staying at home made me reflect on almost every aspect of my life, including how I communicate, how I present myself to other people, and how I act during uncomfortable situations. One thing that the pandemic made me certain of is that it’s hard to distinguish the genuineness of people online. Likewise, maintaining relationships is consistently inconsistent. Hence, solely online interaction isn’t for me.

I want to finally meet my classmates and online friends but I guess I’m still at a loss as to how I will approach them. What will I say to them? Shall we “formally” introduce ourselves to each other? I’m scared of the idea that we may not know each other at all. 

Will our first conversations be something like: “Hi, I’m Axcel, my Zoom profile picture is the one that has a clear blue sky in the background, and a ‘woke up like this’ selfie,” or, “Hey, I’m Axcel, I was the one who accidentally unmuted myself in our DEVC11 class.”

I’m truly scared to be awkward, and I don’t want to be in an awkward situation. The real question is…how can we build, find, and maintain relationships outside our online realities? 

I was having all these worries until I realized that it’s valid to feel this way — to be worried about independence, naivety, or uncertainty. The pandemic took our freedom to live our lives to the fullest. And now that we’re slowly getting our lives back, surely there is fear of what lies ahead of us — and it’s okay. 

What’s not okay is holding back, and letting go of the possibilities and opportunities just because we are too worried. No one is ever ready until that moment comes. Maturity plays a pivotal role in knowing that we can’t know nor do everything. 

After all, we are not yet the grown-ups we think we are. Plants can’t grow without heat, without rain. And like plants, I am at a phase of budding like everyone else of my age. 

Being independent, not only making but standing with your own decisions and choices, seeking and finding beauty in new experiences, and creating new relationships, these are all pivotal for one’s growth: my growth. 

Growth entails courage. And fear is part of courage. We can utilize this fear to rediscover the strengths that we somehow lost because of the pandemic. 

Ahead of me is a new phase waiting to be unraveled. Yes, there is fear, but I’m greater than my fears. I know that it is a new phase of my life that I must — and I am so excited — to face. –

Jhon Axcel G. Beltran, 19, is an incoming sophomore at the University of the Philippines-Los Baños.

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