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By this time, everyone should understand that life during the pandemic is slow and melodic. We move at slower rates, life is a slowed version of what it could be. Except, is that the case for everyone during this time? The simple answer is no. My life is everything but slow. My name is C.J Flores. I write for the Express and work two jobs on top of that. My life moves at a fast pace, but what else should I expect.

I know I’m not alone when I say the pandemic has only made my life go even faster and added mass amounts of stress. I, like many others, wake up and go to work to do what people expect of me. In the morning, I’m a Panera employee and at night an Applebee’s server, then somewhere in between a student reporter. I bring this up is because unfortunately, I’m not the only student who feels like their life is constantly moving faster because the pandemic has slowed everything down.

Stress is a burden weighing on us

At the start of the pandemic, I was fresh outta high school looking forward to college. Now I’m a student with two jobs looking to get by at the end of the day. The stress of being everywhere at once and being called upon is tiring. I sit at home waiting for a schedule for work or waiting to sign onto a class. 

I used to believe being stressed was me feeling weak, a feeling of being helpless, now all I feel is stressed. Working two jobs and adding school on top isn’t an easy task for anyone, but during a time like this, it’s my only option. 

I never imagined school to be so emotionally demanding even if it’s online. I feel much of my emotional exhaustion comes from school and the work itself. Many classes don’t understand that us students being online doesn’t mean throwing hours of homework in a single class. I reached out to a fellow Student Mikala Slotnick about her experience.  

“It was honestly very hard. I worked about 45 hours a week. 30 at Starbucks and 15 at American Eagle. It was very overwhelming… I lost my focus on school so many times because of work. I also almost lost my passion for theatre because it was taking up too much time,” said Slotnick.

Many students each year discuss the workload of school and whether or not it’s acceptable or something students should just accept. However, it still remains at the end of the school day and workday you can find my motivation and confidence in the trash. Good luck trying to get me to do even more work.

Work is not worth the reward?

I wake up and go to work like everyone but I work by making sandwiches and salads in the morning. After Panera, I get home to attend class and grind some work out before either going to my second job or doing more work. I was always told growing up that the work you accomplish is worth the reward, but some days I struggle to find that true. 

Not being able to attend an actual class or attend a normal workday without wearing a mask puts life into perspective. We take what normal used to be and abuse it. I feel that the reward of attending class to get an education feels worthless and going to work to get money feels empty.

Students fight every day to get school work done then drag themselves to their jobs because they lose focus. It feels like a cave, cold and despairing because you feel trapped. The weight of being a student and holding a job becomes too much and eventually, you crack like an egg. Not only are most students mentally stuck, but they are also physically stuck inside. We only leave to work and get gas or food. 

The feeling of being stuck doesn’t get washed off like washing your hands, it’s painted on. This feeling has caused me to hit writer’s block many times or just quit altogether. It breaks down who I am and what I want to accomplish. Many others, not just myself, feel this way when describing the school as a pandemic.

The end of this approaches

What keeps me motivated during this exhausting period in life is simple, my family and friends along with knowing the pandemic aren’t forever. As each day progresses, people around the world get vaccinated and take stances to end the pandemic. My mindset from day one of taking everything on hasn’t changed. One day when I look back at both jobs and my school I can say I’m proud of what I’ve done. For anyone who finds themself in my shoes, be proud of what you have accomplished so far.

We fight the stress and pressure every day just to wake up and repeat the same routine. The work is temporary but the change we’ve endured is forever. I’ll look back one day at the times I didn’t want to keep moving and laugh. I’ll appreciate the hard work I and so many others endured to keep themselves afloat during this unfathomable time. 

C.j Flores is a staff writer for The Express. Follow him @Cj_mcanfores.

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