Editorial: Compassion comes in all forms

Editorial Board

It’s safe to say that the past couple of years have been filled with unprecedented experiences for everyone. Between dealing with a global pandemic and worrying about ourselves and our loved ones getting sick, we also had to face hardships with jobs, friendships, school, romantic interests and so much more. Nothing about 2020 or 2021 has been easy, so it’s important to remember to take care of yourself and keep in mind that the people around you are going through similar issues.

Understandably so, we all have been focused on battling our own problems; it is easy to fall down a rabbit hole of never-ending worries and troubles. Especially as college students, we have to balance academics with personal relationships and responsibilities, which can be mentally and physically draining. So this is your reminder to take a deep breath and give yourself a break because, more likely than not, you deserve it.

However, on the other hand, your peers around you are in a similar position. Sometimes we are too focused on our own difficulties to see that friends, family and even strangers are going through the same thing—maybe not the exact same problems, but similar feelings. And when we don’t notice that the people around us are struggling, we can engage in unintentional actions that hurt them. For example, forgetting a birthday text might not seem like a big deal, but that text may be the reason someone gets a smile on their face. The little things matter, whether it’s a text or even a passing smile, so it’s essential to be mindful of our actions.

As we return to a new era of college life—that’s supposedly going to be similar to before the pandemic—it’s hard to ignore that we have all been fundamentally changed by COVID-19. As we arrive back on campus, we have to deal with the fact that while we may have changed since the last time we were here, our peers may have too. So with this in mind, our interactions with each other will probably look different than we are used to. Talking to the person sitting next to you in class might be limited to one-word answers or even silence, and while that’s understandable after almost three semesters of online classes, we should try to put our best foot forward toward the people around us. It can be awkward, unpleasant and downright awful for ourselves, but who knows? It could mean the world to the other person to receive a fraction of our kindness. 

However, the best, or somewhat compassionate, versions of ourselves shouldn’t just be limited to strangers or potential new friends and acquaintances; it also should extend to our current relationships. It is incredibly easy to think that while we try to solve our own dilemmas, we can ignore the people around us and expect them to welcome us with open arms after the fact. Again, it’s the little gestures that can save a friendship, and even if you need time to yourself away from that friendship, let them know that; a couple of words can make a drastic difference. And while we are adjusting to life on campus, trying to reconnect with friends can be overwhelming, even if you have been in contact with them digitally. Although it’s important to nourish those friendships, taking small steps is okay too. You can say no to that big group hang-out but promise to make it next time; it’s always the thought that counts. 

We have been through trying times during this pandemic and are still going through obstacle after obstacle. So as we move forward, adjust to a new life on campus and figure out new versions ourselves, this is your reminder to always try to be kind and have compassion towards yourself and others.