Dora Guo

I recently looked in my calendar back to a random day, January 16. A habit I’ve formed throughout the pandemic is obsessively documenting my schedule in the good ole Gcal, with everything from thesis work time — affectionately named “Sterling is your one true love!” despite having studied there exactly twice this year — to dinners where tres leches cake is devoured earning shoutouts. On the day I was looking at, I had a Zoom reunion scheduled with some friends of mine from a summer camp I went to back in high school. It was one of a series of calls we’ve had over the past year, and every time we would stay up way past my bedtime. I haven’t seen many of these friends in person in years, but we’re always able to converse as if no time has passed.

Maybe it’s because it’s senior year, or maybe it’s because of this pandemic, or maybe it’s because we are going through senior year in the middle of this pandemic, but I’ve felt a lot more thankful for small things like those calls. It’s about the weeks of planning ahead, timing covid tests and figuring out the *perfect* socially distanced spot to eat dinner. Getting a reservation at the only restaurant with outdoor seating in November and bundling up to brave the cold. BYOB on Cross Campus on the first nice day of Spring. All of this amounts to an intentionality regarding time and plans that we’ve all come to adopt. Without passing everyone you know on your way to class, spontaneity has become a rarity. As a result, planning has reigned supreme, and designating time to see people requires up to two weeks of telephone tag.

Even after being fully vaccinated, I find myself struggling to return to my old college life of spontaneity. I get tired from long hours spent with a large group of people, and am still getting used to hugging friends as a form of greeting again. I recover with self care in the form of watching Mean Girls the musical for the fifth time in a month, also scheduled into my Gcal. This year has made me realize how much I enjoy alone time, usually accompanied by a warm blanket and hot chocolate, yet I can’t help but miss the suite parties that turned into deep conversations at 3 am.

Striking that balance between catching up with friends you haven’t chatted with in what feels like eons and engaging in self care is never easy. And repeatedly watching Mean Girls the musical isn’t exactly great for “the mems” of your Bright College Years™, even if knowing the entire soundtrack by heart feels like your greatest accomplishment of senior year. But setting aside those moments to relax and reset is crucial, and means we appreciate the times spent together that much more. 

Moving forward, as we all find ourselves scattered across the globe in a few months, I hope we are able to stay intentional with our time. I hope that we are able to carve time out for group video calls. I hope that we are able to be content with taking the occasional night off, choosing Netflix and some tea over a night out. I hope we are able to continue making memories together, whether it be in person or over the phone thousands of miles apart.