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Ask Kate: Cure my Senioritis

Your Guide to Finding Motivation During Covid

Kate Casper

Dear Struggling Senior,

No offense to high school grads before the year 2020, but their senioritis is NOTHING like ours. 

In previous years, senioritis looked like not having motivation to do school work, but in the year 2021, senioritis looks like not having the motivation to do anything.

Senioritis during a pandemic looks like attending AP Calculus from your bed, staring at screens for hours, barely leaving the house, obsessively checking social media to feel connected, and only wearing pants with an elastic waistband. Senioritis during a pandemic is brutal.

If you don’t look your best, you can just turn your camera off. If you didn’t complete your homework, you can just turn it in two weeks late. It is so easy to slip into these avoidance-based behaviors to combat the struggles of life during the pandemic, which is why it is so hard to snap out of them.

Full disclosure, I have senioritis. I’ve had senioritis since September, and unfortunately, I’m not out of the woods yet. But I’m trying to return to my normal self and regain the motivation lost to the hours spent on Zoom calls and the hours spent stressing about the future.

First, we must mourn the loss of the romantic all-American high school senior year experience. There are no school dances, games, or parties to attend. Seeing friends is harder than ever, and every interaction with another human being in-person presents a major health risk. Being a teen in 2021 is difficult, but seniors on the brink of adulthood and college/secondary plans are being hit hard, so acknowledge the loss. Don’t suppress it–talk about it, write about it, sing about it, think about it. 

Second, we have to consider our motivations. What incentivized you to work hard before the pandemic? Did you work hard to get into your dream college…or to compete with your peers? Did you work hard to appease your teachers…or to keep up with your friends? Self-awareness is key, so keep asking yourself questions. Get to the root of the problem, instead of pulling all-nighters on three cups of coffee, thinking you solved your senioritis. An all-nighter is a quick fix; you want something long-term that is going to cure your problems for good. 

Third, reclaim your identity. Who do you want to be? Who do you feel like right now? Maybe you feel like a lazy student; maybe you feel like a failure; maybe you feel like a hot mess. But guess what? That isn’t you! Even if you’ve already been accepted to your top college, you still have a responsibility to be the best version of yourself. I know this sounds a bit cheesy, but you are here for a reason, and it is never too late to improve yourself. Part of improving yourself includes doing your homework. I know you seriously don’t want to, but you seriously have to. Remember, colleges still see that mid year transcript!

Fourth, create actionable steps to achieve your goals. I know not everyone is a huge fan of SEAL lessons, but setting goals and taking steps to reach those goals is a valuable life skill. Reaching the goal is not the objective; rather, the objective is to make the process of obtaining the goal as enjoyable and efficient as possible. I know, making homework enjoyable sounds absurd, but I promise, it is possible! Try playing some good music while working or having virtual or socially distant study sessions with friends each week. Reframing your attitude toward school work will change the game. If you associate school work with stress and anxiety, you won’t do it, and thus, the cycle of stress and anxiety will continue. So start associating schoolwork with positive things. Don’t like doing homework in your room? Consider going to another room in your home and setting up a space conducive to learning and productivity or stake out at a coffee shop or library a few hours a week. Don’t like being on Zoom calls for hours? Take a walk during the 20 minute break between classes. Don’t like getting distracted in the middle of class? Put your phone in another room, and turn your camera on to stay engaged and accountable. It’s time to take action. You’ve taken the time to read this advice column, so surely setting a few goals isn’t too much to ask!

Fifth, reach out. The T.C. community is here to support you, so take advantage! Send an email to your counselor and teachers to open up lines of communication and relieve some anxiety. I promise, your teachers won’t be mad at you. No matter how low your grade is or how ashamed you might feel, one thing is for sure: your teachers are rooting for you. They want nothing more than to see you succeed, not only in their class, but in life. So send them an email; have a meeting with your counselor. Don’t make excuses, provide explanations. Give your teachers and counselor insight into what is going on in your life, and tell them what steps you are taking to rid yourself of this severe strain of senioritis (or junioritis, sophomoritis, or freshmanitis, honestly).

Sixth, give yourself rewards for good behavior and punishments for bad behavior, and have a friend hold you accountable. Maybe your goal is to finish your asynchronous math test by the due date. Tell a friend this goal and the “punishment” if you do not complete it. The punishments don’t have to be that serious, but just painful enough to motivate you to do your work. For example, your friend has to watch you text your ex that you miss them (yikes!) or send an off-beat message to a crush. The ideal punishment is not necessarily cruel, but would be mild social suicide if inflicted. I know it’s silly, but if you are really struggling to get something done that has been hanging over your head, this is the course of action to take.

Look, I know it’s hard. Everyone’s grades are down, and students are struggling more than ever. Even those top-of-the-class high-performing students are struggling—trust me, they just aren’t saying anything about it. But remember, you are not the only one sitting on Zoom for hours on end. So are your teachers. They are people too, trying to navigate pandemic life just like you. This is a shared experience, and showing love and grace to your teachers is just as important as showing love and grace to yourself. Take the time out of your day to shoot them an email or talk to them after class. They appreciate hearing from you. They want to know that you’re there, not just a black square on their laptop. So show them your face, personality, and voice. Form a connection.

I challenge you, once you’re done reading this article, and maybe just maybe reading a couple other Theogony stories, set an alarm on your phone for ten minutes and do something: that math homework assigned before winter break, a test, a reading guide. Just do it for ten minutes, that’s all I ask. You got this!

Good luck!

~Kate

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*The advice offered is intended for informational purposes only. The advice is not intended to replace professional guidance.*

Kate Casper is the Theogony Style Editor. She took Journalism I as a freshman and has been a member of Theogony since 2018 and an editor since 2019. Kate plays Varsity Tennis and submits poetry to the T.C. literary and art magazine, Labyrinth. Kate strives to be the pulse of the T.C. culture.