Student Stories: How the pandemic has changed my outlook on life after high school

By Bridie McArthur

The most recent pandemic-induced isolation period offered an abrupt source of clarity and perspective. At best, it threw a wrench in my plans for the next few years what I want to do, and be.

A shift in expectations

My plans for after Year 12 were everchanging I’m chronically indecisive and change my mind constantly, but it mainly consisted of two parts: 1. take a gap year, become more worldly and experienced and a tad more financially padded, and 2. university. With rumours that international travel could be an impossibility until at least 2023, that plan has taken a rather big hit.

No more gap-year solo trip to Italy with pasta for dinner every night. Thanks, COVID-19! (This is a privileged take — if this the worst thing that has happened to me, I know I’m very lucky.)

How remote learning changed me

Isolation and remote learning havesuited me pretty well. It’s hard to go through a cataclysmic, once-in-a-lifetime, world-altering event such as a pandemic without enduring a shift in mindset. That’s what we humans do best adapt to change, and we’ve gone through a heap of it especially this year. I honed my self-directed learning ability and ways to establish structure.

For me, the transition from remote back to face-to-face learning sucked more than the inverse. I’d gotten into such a productive and slower-paced routine in isolation; I was exercising so much more and regularly, journaling, catching up on movies, shows, and articles I hadn’t had time to consume, and structuring my school schedule to best suit my working style and preferences.

I feel guilty saying that I quite liked isolation and the pause in my usually fast-paced lifestyle, but I did.This revealed a lot about myself that I hadn’t known before, that was instrumental in my mindset shift regarding post-grad/end of Year12 plans. What sort of job will suit me?

Isolation gave me the time and perspective to reconsider what I want out of my life and my career; I gained new insight into what suits me and why.

Looking forward

I like being go-go-go, but I also like a slower pace and time to exercise and journal, etc. I love flexibility in my working style. But in isolation I also missed talking to people face-to-face and the interpersonality of the classroom setting. I can be a pretty extroverted student and learner; I love discussions and talking things through, in addition to writing-centric work. Learning all of this has altered how I approach post-grad and my career journey (weird adulting?).

I most likely won’t be going on that solo trip to Italy when I finish school next year. That’s okay, I’ll just try and hit every Italian restaurant we have here instead. COVID-19 has forced me to swap my old plans for a new perspective and mindset, and I can’t really be mad about that.

Further reading

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