Tim Ghianni, adjunct professor/journalist-in-residence, asked his Multimedia Storytelling class to choose one word that best described this unusual semester and then explain it. Some needed more than one word. Other students may see a bit of themselves in the following short essays:
Unmotivating & Exhausting
Don’t get me wrong, this semester has definitely not been all bad. But I think we can all admit, COVID sucks! It has been hard to focus on school work with everything going on, and a lot of times I have felt completely drained. Sometimes I even get the “what’s the point attitude?” Which really sucks.
I have had ups and downs with motivation— some days I’m eager to work, and on others work is the last thing on my mind. It feels like we were go-go-going without being able to take a break or even a breath. Pretty much all of my teachers have been understanding, which I really appreciate.
This semester has not been an easy one… But it has been one to appreciate the smaller moments of joy in between all the doom and gloom stuff. Hopefully, this will be a season of being more grateful, humble, and understanding than ever before! I like to think something good will come out of all this.
When I think of the semester that is coming to a close in hindsight, my word is blessed. When I think of the moments that were difficult, I would say overwhelming, but when I think about how those two things work together, I think that I feel lucky. At the beginning of the semester, Dr. McCollum had us finish a prompt for our hopes this semester, and mine read, “that we will be here all semester.” Here we are at the end of November, and though we had several students in quarantine, we wore masks like we wear underwear (hopefully all the time) and were overly careful while also trying to hold onto our own sense of mental stamina. And even when it felt like it was lacking, I think I truly saw the Lord push me over the finish line. … The best thing I have to say is that I have learned to live in the moment so much more. And for this reason, I feel blessed and lucky even though I had the most overwhelming semester yet.
The one word that best describes my semester would have to be exhausting. I feel this way because of everything that is going on in this crazy world we live in today. Everything we have to worry about with COVID and everything we have to do is exhausting, and I am getting tired of worrying. Getting myself to do my schoolwork was very hard because learning on ZOOM is very tough for me and I have not done a great job adjusting to it. It is hard to stay motivated when I feel like I have not learned anything this semester and I am just doing these assignments to get them in on time and not to get a good grade or learn. This semester has not been easy for me and I believe that it is only going to get harder from here.
Another reason I feel exhausted is because softball truly drains me sometimes. From getting up at 5 a.m. to go workout, to having late practices into the night it is hard for me to do my schoolwork when I am tired from softball. My body gets to the point of when it is hard for me to even sit down because I am so sore. I know what I signed up for playing a college sport, but this year has been even harder because of the COVID restrictions. My off days did not even feel like an off day, because all I wanted to do was sleep, but I had to get up for class and when I was in class I was just trying to stay awake. This semester has been everything but easy for me, but I know that all of this is happening for a reason and I will come out a better person because of it.
The word I chose to describe this year was “transformative” and here’s why:
It would be an understatement to say that 2020 has been a catastrophic year for a lot if not for everyone.
A lot of aspects in my life became difficult due to COVID, such as having family stay (so I could) take care of them, mental exhaustion, and, of course, lack of social interaction.
However, I would say that this year has been transformative for me because I felt as if I became more of an emotional anchor toward myself.
It’s not easy, but I think I’m starting to keep myself more grounded than I ever have before.
Especially, with just letting myself feel all the emotions I need to feel instead of just keeping them in.
“Normal” will never happen again, and, if I’m being honest, I’ll probably wear a mask out in public for the rest of my life even after the pandemic.
However, I feel like everything and everyone will heal after this time.
Myself included. …Eventually, at least.
A time unpredicted, a time unknown. A time not knowing what tomorrow holds. Looking back on the year 2020, the word “ambiguous” is the first that comes to mind. It all started with sitting in The Bahamas, trying to figure out whether leaving paradise was worth my health. From not knowing if coming back to Nashville was worth it, to jumping on a plane and wearing a mask for over 10 hours. Here we are, living life and trying to figure it out at the same time.
For me, the 2020 (fall) semester was ambiguous. However, it opened my eyes to the newness of life and the uncertainty of what each day brings. Today, I sit back and ponder on the life before COVID. Moments I long for. However, what will the world look like after we defeat the virus? Is there even a slight possibility the virus is helping the world’s system in any way? These are questions there is no answer to; questions the world is currently trying to figure out.
Tomorrow is not promised to anyone, and it is imperative to cherish each moment we have. Ambiguity, the word that perfectly describes 2020, will be around for a very long time. There is no way to determine the outcome of this tragedy, how to feel, how to think or how to act. It is crucial that we do not allow the ambiguity to keep us down. No matter the circumstance, push forward to the future even if the future is unclear.
Freaking Crazy & Unmotivating
The two words I chose to describe this semester was “freaking crazy” and “unmotivating.”
Firstly, I chose freaking crazy (not just crazy on its own) because the world as we know it has felt upside down for the last year. COVID-19 has changed everyone’s lives worldwide — some more than others, of course. As a student, I feel like there hasn’t been any down time. There haven’t been any breaks — from school or the pandemic. The constant fear of the unknown or what will happen next is why things are this particular brand of extra crazy.
I remained a student over the summer as well, during the time when both my father and brother contracted the virus, and I had to rescue my mom so she could self-isolate with me and my 4 other roommates. On top of that, personal, circumstantial things have made that exponentially harder, such as her multiple sclerosis. Everything, not just college, has been freaking crazy to say the least.
I also said unmotivating as a student and as a young person entering the workforce. It is not only becoming increasingly harder to maintain learning when in-person and virtual classes have gotten so difficult, but it is also remarkably discouraging to see how tough the job market is right now.
It’s understandable that places like Lipscomb would be concerned with maintaining their business as a University, however I feel like there are times when safety is not prioritized in the slightest. When I report someone for notoriously not wearing their mask or going to large gatherings and they continue to be allowed to remain on SGA and be in-person, on campus, it makes me wonder why I should bother?
And it goes further than that, when professors are not acclimated to teaching online and I’m doing an assignment and I’m like, “What is this? When did we even learn it?” For example, in my graphic design class I’m required to attend the Zoom meetings, but for every homework assignment I end up having to look up instructional videos. Because I’m not on a computer in photoshop in person, I can’t ask the questions I need answered.
It doesn’t help that I opted to have in-person classes, but Multimedia Storytelling is the only class out of the five classes I’m taking that I’m allowed to be in person. I was forced to learn virtually for the other four, for the same cost in tuition. I feel like I’ve learned much less.
All of that said, I continue to hope next semester will be far better, given that we’ve all had this semester as a trial-and-error. I feel as though I have to remain hopeful if I want to get anywhere with my degree I’m already 85% done with, whether that looks like grad school or a full-time job.
There are so many words that flood my mind as I search for ways to describe this semester. No single word will fully depict what all we’ve been through, of course. A word can’t depict fear the way we’ve lived it in the era of COVID-19. It can’t induce disgust the way so many of us have felt at racial tensions. It can’t divide us the way our presidential election has. It certainly can’t process all three of those things at the same time like we’ve had to.
But what a single word can do is remind us of why we went through it all. One word can keep us focused on how we’re better now than we were as a result of all this refinement. For me, that word is “innovative.” It gives us a window into what makes us human and keeps us that way when the world seems to crush our humanity. We’ve managed school, work, relationships and even business in a new, hypervirtual way, and we did so almost immediately. It’s not perfect, but we’ve managed.
When riots tore our streets apart in an instant and our souls even faster, we found a way to rebuild cities and mend hearts. Doctors and essential workers have endlessly given of themselves to keep our world turning, even though many of them never could have imagined the true significance of that commitment. Through all the struggle, the death, the pain, the division, the hatred, and the general bad that this semester has brought us, we’ve innovated. Some more than others, but we all have innovated. And that’s the most human thing we’ve ever done.
This semester for me has been very challenging. Not only having to deal with a pandemic but also having to take so many classes that required a lot from me. I had to do a lot of video work from having to take Sports Reporting, News Reporting, Video & Documentary and Multimedia. I definitely didn’t have much time to have a social life.
But also this semester has been a very learning experience as well for me and made me grow as a person. I have learned so much about myself and other people during these hard times. It’s really nice to have good friendships to help you make it through these times and to be thankful for. So, in conclusion, even though this year has been challenging, I wouldn’t have wanted to not experience this, because I have grown so much.
My word to describe this semester was “good.” Many people disagreed with the word that I chose. Oftentimes during this semester, we found ourselves saying, “this is such a weird semester.” Or “I wish things could go back to normal.” I know there has been so many times when I have said the same thing. However, the reason why I believe this was a “good” semester is that I get to see friendly faces every day. Of course, those faces are covered with masks, but we still get to say “hello” to people and wave to our friends and professors. We get to go to dinner and stay up with our roommates till far too late. It has been a semester of transition but in all the craziness that COVID-19 has brought, I have found peace in the normalcy that being back in Nashville has brought me.
When the country was in complete lockdown I use to think about campus and my roommates and teammates and all the things that brought me so much joy freshman year. I remember thinking I would do anything to go back to being on campus. So, I chose to not take for granted the moments that we get together. No matter how spaced out our classes are, or how many masks I’ve had to buy, I feel very grateful for all of the little moments that I’ve gotten to share with people.
If I were to use one word to describe this semester, that word would be “exhausting.” For starters, the lack of in-class participation was often compensated with more homework. More homework correlated to later nights. Later nights resulted in grumpier mornings; and getting up for online classes on those mornings led to a lack of motivation at the start of the day that permeated throughout the week. The tiring days piled up and the exhaustion never ceased.
In addition to this, the lack of real human interaction was more tiresome than expected. Sure, there was in-person interaction, but with only half a face truly present. The lack of facial communication outside of verbal language resulted in interactions with others being harder, and miscommunications becoming easier. While I did not expect this, in particular, to lead to exhaustion, it was certainly a more tiring experience than anticipated.
Finally, the stress that came with a completely new set of circumstances was a key factor in the attitude of this semester. Change is often hard to cope with, but when said change leads to limited interaction with friends and loved ones, a diminishing quality in the ability to learn, limited opportunities for community fun, and the ever present and looming feeling that everything could come crashing down at a moment’s notice resulted in high levels of stress and anxiety for most students. Bearing that burden was truly exhausting.
If I were to choose a word to describe this semester, it would be “heavy.” This has been the heaviest work load I have had to carry in a single semester. My work with church ministry has also been quite heavy despite the times we are living in. Lastly, some changes in my personal life have been heavy as well.
This semester I was excited to take Television Newscast as a course because it would be my opportunity to “cut my teeth” in the world of consistently finding, pursuing, and completing quality visual news stories.
This class is challenging enough, but I coupled it with Sports Reporting, Crisis Communication, Multimedia Storytelling and a couple others. This set me up for some very heavy weeks consisting of creating multiple packages, typing papers, creating visual media for my church … and this would be throughout the week with a job from 3-11:30 p.m. I had to find a way to get things done with not much room and free time to get it done.
In my personal life the biggest change is that my girlfriend who is originally from California got a great job opportunity here in Nashville and now she lives here. She moved here on the last weekend of October, and I was there with her helping her with the cross-country drive that started Friday afternoon and ended Sunday night. Since she’s been here, I’ve tried to be a great partner in helping her adjust to her new life here in the city.
Now that I am on this side of the semester, I can clearly see that not only was this semester heavy with stress, but I have grown so much from it. The struggles of this semester to balance it all have truly bettered me as a man.