It’s okay to not be okay

Ariana Assifi has been accustomed to stability rather than change her whole life. She grew up in Mississauga, Ontario and has only moved homes within the city – and only once at that. Ariana only switched schools when she was headed to high school. 

When the time to go to college arrived in September of 2018, Ariana would have to travel to Oakville to attend Sheridan. This meant a huge change in her life since she was not used to taking the bus or going to school outside of her home city. 

Once she became familiar with her bus commute, it became her peaceful “alone time.” Ariana spent her one-hour bus ride resting and mentally preparing for her classes. Once she got to Sheridan, her new friend from the program – educational support, would be waiting for her. Ariana did well in her classes and was having a good time in college. 

Ariana Assifi. Photo by Nicole Kolodziej

Then, in her second semester she realized she was not happy. She was not enjoying her program and she wanted out. But she worried. What would people think? Would her parents be disappointed in her? It did not matter. She knew what she had to do. She had to take care of herself. 

So, she withdrew from the program and began working to pay off her student loans. She took the year off to decide what she really wanted to do. By the end of 2019, she was ready to go back to school.

She started her new program – social service work, in January, 2020. She was genuinely enjoying the program, getting good grades, and her social life was thriving.

But when the Coronavirus pandemic required a lockdown, Ariana’s world changed again – this time in the blink of an eye. Classes were immediately moved online with no timeline for resuming in-person classes. Ariana had no time to process or accept the change.

Ariana Assifi. Photo by Nicole Kolodziej

So, she tried adjusting. She woke up every morning and attended all of her virtual classes. She studied. But her grades were dropping. She no longer felt motivated. She did not pay attention in the classes she attended and she procrastinated. 

For Ariana, working from home felt almost too comfortable. It was too easy to get distracted by more appealing things – such as watching TV, eating, taking a nap, or just using her phone. Another factor that contributed to Ariana’s loss of motivation was her loneliness and depression.

Despite her struggles, she pushed through for as long as she could. In third semester, her grades were poor. Ariana had a decision to make: Either be in school for an extra semester to repeat a majority of her classes from third semester or drop out for a second time. Although Ariana loved the program that she dropped out again. She felt that it would be better to take a break and resume when in-person classes became available. 

If you are feeling the same way as Ariana, remember that you are not alone. Online learning is not for everyone. Remember that it’s okay to struggle. As long as you try your best. That’s all that matters.