Turning one’s feelings of seasonal despair into motivation

By Uma Mody, Staff Writer

Photo source: Uma Mody

It’s my 3rd year. I walk around the campus with my heart a little heavy, and the cold air of the morning brings tears to my eyes. I have so much to do and so little time… yet my time, so much of it is on my mind. The times I get to explore this beautiful campus. The times I watch the seasons come and go, like all the students I walk past. Thinking of this period of my life as an undergraduate student here at UofT has made me emotional. I know I will look back and miss this moment in time, in reminiscing and in feeling nostalgic; how do I make sure that I’m making the most of it? Can I avoid feeling like I’ve lost something I won’t be able to relive? 

It’s clear the cold weather has brought some unnecessary stress and worry to my mind, and I know many other students may struggle with similar thoughts, no matter their year. In that way, I know I’m not alone. To be honest, time hasn’t passed as fast as I thought it had. Perhaps these questions need not be answered or worried about yet…there are 24 days left of fall. As we go about the rest of our autumn season, we can take advantage of the lack of snow and lack of below-zero weather by exploring our campus to the fullest. From switching to a different campus library to checking out random buildings you may never have gone to otherwise, there’s much to explore in making the most of knowing your school and feeling more connected with it while you still can. 

At the beginning of the year, 2 of my friends and I decided it was time to ramp up the school spirit and be most in tune with our school’s resources. We created our own little bingo chart of student-oriented and UofT-specific activities to complete. The list has some standard activities such as Go to a Varsity game and Explore Campus Hidden Spots, making it essentially a goal for us to be part of this school. It also makes the most of the school’s physical resources, not necessarily to advance academically but rather to uncover UofT student life and experience. At the same time, the list also contains more whimsical goals, like  Join a random lecture and Study Overnight at Commons. We added those so that we could either make the chosen activity a planned event or make it somewhat arbitrary, which allows us the freedom and spontaneity to join a random lecture on some 5 p.m. Thursday evening when we felt burnout from school and wanted to avoid our assignments. 

So far, we haven’t completed too much of this bingo chart. Maybe only 3 things crossed out.  In reality, life might get in the way, and we forget. With 24 days of fall left, it’s not impossible yet to go through our bingo. We also know that deep down, we want to be part of the student experience. That’s why though the chart remains incomplete, we continuously encourage each other to not let the season’s blues dictate how we tackle this semester. We’ve derived motivation out of this despair to instead take every opportunity we can to spend any kind of quality time together, on and off campus. That included not letting any weekend escape us without having at least one hang out by the time Sunday rolls around. I could also count on seeing each other for two –no three, –no five times straight in a week as we committed to staying motivated in our studies. Seeking these ways to make our experience feel extra special is great, but the value and meaning of just being around one another to overcome any difficulties of the season was what truly made us feel empowered to keep going.

For our school, it’s particularly clear that academics are a priority, and we might feel there’s no need to embrace the student experience as it has no direct bearing on how our GPA turns out. Although that may be true, I’d like to argue that in the long run, finding value in the experience of being a student and doing student oriented-things is perhaps underrated in importance. Further, the emotional connections we build can put us in a better mentality to handle school stress and workloads, making us more productive, which could impact GPA. But ultimately, sticking beside friends when things start to get tougher is possibly the key ingredient to managing the rigorous semester—and the year, for that matter. 

There are 24 days of fall left. The cold, expected snow hasn’t quite reached us yet. Make the most of your experience and go out and connect with those who make you want to strive higher!

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