Don’t Panic

By David Van Engen

…or if it’s too late, read this.

It’s funny. Whenever someone tell you to not panic, it’s probably already too late. As college students, it’s safe to say that we live in a near-constant state of anxiety. Often, we like to tell others that we thrive in this environment, and sometimes we do. Much of the time, our brains are filled with a colorful marching band of stress that loves to parade around in our heads at 2 am. Student loans? Check. Procrastination? Massive check. An international COVID-19 pandemic?


Deep breath. Whew.

Okay. This sucks. A lot. All online classes? Depending on your school’s format, this can be a dramatic adjustment. Seeing everyone’s pets is pretty cool but Zoom fatigue is real. Once the joy of being able to wear sweatpants wears off, it’s easy to let a lot of things slide. Like showers. You didn’t think it was possible, but you can bring procrastination to a whole new level.

Undergrad students have found themselves moving back home after student housing closed abruptly. A lot of graduate students are either in practicum or getting ready to apply for next year. Doctoral students are scrambling to figure out how the heck this pandemic will affect their prospects at scoring or holding onto their internship or postdoc site.

This is a lot of adjustment, a lot of stress. Why sugar coat it?

It would be easy to write a fluff piece on practicing mindfulness or self care and those things are definitely helpful. But you know what? This is hard. You have a dozen unanswered questions. Things seem pretty damned uncertain and everyone is regrouping. It’s easy to turn inward and do everything imaginable to not think about it. But you are all future therapists. We know in our bones that avoidance can only take us so far.

So here’s your chance to let some of that out. Tell us about your experiences. Your anxiety. Your questions. Tell us what’s working for you as you try to cope. Tell us what doesn’t. This blog is for all of us. Share your experiences, read about your fellow classmates, and maybe things will seem a little more manageable. The MPA Student Division will also feature guest writers to talk about topical issues like financial aid, ethical dilemmas, or how to make your life easier. But ultimately, we want to hear from you.

Click here for details on how to contribute an article.

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