by Natalie Chu ’23
This semester has been full of unique emotional and physical hurdles. Navigating a world through remote settings and distanced learning provided us all with a diverse assortment of lessons and growing pains. For me, finding community, safe spaces, and support systems during the ongoing pandemic greatly helped in maintaining my mental health through direct dialogue and communication. The Undergraduate Library Fellowship is one of those communities that really adjusted and catered to impacted students. I thoroughly enjoyed our bi-weekly check-in’s with our mentors. As part of the Outreach Team, Keziah and I had Jen Brown and Annalise Phillips, who were so incredibly supportive and passionate about our work and personal development. Having this safe space for us to share, empathize, and uplift each other was an incredibly valuable part of this fellowship. Here are some mini-lessons that we learned and affirmed for each other:
1. There is no “right” time to have your life figured out.
Life continues after your undergraduate. There are many aspects of our lives that are still incredibly uncertain but there is no definite timeline to figure that out. Give yourself the opportunity (and grace) to continue exploring and learning about yourself and the world around you.
2. Prioritize your mental health and set boundaries in short-term and long-term planning.
Whether that is investing in some Girl Scout Cookies (thanks Annalise!) or taking 30-min walks outside, there is always more room for self-care. As challenging as the year has been, prioritizing your health will allow you to be more readily available to support others.
3. Shoot for the stars and recognize your accomplishments.
Set goals for yourself that will truly make you happy; following and fulfilling the expectations of others will only lead to a life of dissatisfaction. More importantly, we have reached so many milestones within our academic and personal lives—probably many more than we realized! So take the time to congratulate yourself on your perseverance and courage to take on these challenges!
As we all may have learned in this incredibly challenging year, practicing empathy has been an increasingly crucial life skill in remaining grounded in our values and humanity. Daily practices of direct communication and active listening are fundamental to a culture of empathy. Being able to navigate this school semester with an amazing support system like the ULF has truly made me feel both deeply connected, seen, and valued. For those of you who are lucky enough to experience this fellowship, you will truly make lifelong mentorships and community. Nevertheless, this fellowship has taught me countless lessons that I hope to carry with me and share with others.