By Sophia Yakumithis
I’ve been taking my classes entirely remotely and let me tell you: it’s so not my speed.
I have a difficult enough time sitting still in class. I’ve always found excuses to get up and walk around in the hallway about halfway through lectures and if my professor is the type who is NOT having my inattention, I resort to a couple doodles that keep me focused.
So, in that sense, sitting at a desk with the camera off and complete freedom over my attention maintenance has made this semester euphoric for my compulsive brain. In other ways though, it’s been killing me.
When I do have the camera on, sitting in front of my screen has also opened a horrifying door of fixation on things I don’t like about myself.
My self confidence has perished since Zoom University began and I think I’ve become really delusional in regard to my own self-perception. Because my body language isn’t being perceived by other people and I’m not motivated enough to stop fixating, I feel a little unhinged in terms of letting my insecurities get the best of me.
I’m mentioning this for a reason: it makes sense that other people would be experiencing the same thing, so I hope my acknowledgement of that gives someone some peace of mind.
Anywho, I greatly prefer being face to face with my professors and classmates. There is a huge difference, for me, between learning in a classroom setting and learning from home. My motivation and work ethic have remained essentially unchanged, but I feel largely disconnected from everyone. And that’s something I was pretty unaware of until I attended one of my classes in person.
I’m high-risk for COVID-19. Because of that, the idea of sitting in a contained room — even if my classmates can provide the green badge assuring they’ve been testing negative — makes my skin crawl.
However, I’m leaving campus soon and one of my professors wanted to meet me in person at least once just to chat, so I couldn’t turn that down. That’s such a thoughtful and caring gesture from a college professor and I felt like there was no way I could say no.
So, for the first time since early March, I attended a class inside the College of Arts and Sciences building. There were six people in the classroom, all socially distanced from one another. The hallways were eerily quiet, the benches completely blocked off with caution tape. It felt like a ghost town.
Walking into the classroom felt like I was about to meet someone for a blind date. Will I look the way he imagines me to in person? Will he be tall or short? All these strange and random, self-conscious thoughts ran through my head and I felt like a complete fool.
I also felt like an alien disguising as a human being in a movie. Sitting there and making eye contact during the lecture, physically raising my hand to participate instead of clicking a blue “Raise Hand” button on Zoom — and I might add, actually wearing pants — were all mind f—s I was not expecting to dominate my in-class thought experience.
I’m a senior now and have been in an in-person classroom setting for more than 17 years of my life. I’ve even taken a gap semester, so I know what it’s like to return to college after a long break. This was different, though, because I haven’t really had a break from school — I’ve just had a break from classroom etiquette.
Needless to say, I’m scared for the day we go back to complete in-person instruction, if we’re even alive by then. I’ll probably behave like a feral dog or, worse, someone who’s been locked in a basement for two decades.