I remember the joy I felt when my teachers first announced the extension of spring break due to COVID-19. As a high school junior, my days were filled almost entirely with school and extracurricular activities, and I was grateful that I would get this much-needed rest period.
As it turned out, that spring break was one of the most stressful I’ve experienced. It soon became clear that the virus was a severe problem, and I was scared of contracting it, or even worse, one of my loved ones contracting it. As my friends and I began to quarantine, feelings of loneliness and isolation set in as I struggled to transition from seeing them daily to only being able to talk online. My school soon announced that they were implementing a new e-learning program, and the vagueness of the description left many students, including myself, feeling confused and concerned about what to expect.
Although the school worked hard to transition to online learning as smoothly as possible, students and teachers alike ran into challenges. The biggest problem was that everyone seemed to lack motivation. Students came to the Zoom classes with their cameras off and microphones muted. In the videos of those who did turn their cameras on, I saw people driving, still in bed, or getting coffee. The teachers seemed to lose their ability to regulate the classroom in the way that they did before.
However, as we watched the number of cases rise, it became clear that the pandemic was not going to end any time soon. We all had to get used to life as it was. COVID-19 put everyone to the test, and it was a test of adaptability. Slowly, things became less chaotic as life resumed a new type of normalcy. Teachers adjusted the curriculum to the best of their abilities so students could keep up, and my friends and I started having regular Facetime calls and Netflix party nights. Although it wasn’t ideal, we did manage to stay connected.
I think that, despite all the things that COVID-19 has taken away, the one thing that the pandemic gave me is a stronger connection to those around me. Albeit clichéd, we are all in this together, and naturally, I think that we depend on each other. My family and I went from seeing each other once or twice a day during meals to having cooking contests and game nights. My friends and I, despite the distance, have gotten closer than ever through mutual feelings of boredom and excitement to see each other again. Even my teachers and I have bonded over conversations about the pandemic and how we have been dealing with it. I would have never known that my brother was wickedly skilled at billiard sports, that one of my friends’ dream is to open a café, or that my math teacher was welcoming a newborn daughter, had these conversations not happened. Going into my senior year of high school, I’ve realized that I only have a year left to spend with my friends and family. COVID-19 has pushed me to appreciate them fully and make the most of my final year.
Perhaps, as a naturally optimistic person, I am trying to search for the bright sides of the situation to hold on to. I am not saying that this pandemic, which has caused so much pain and suffering to many, is anything but devastating. I am merely hoping that my story, which holds true for others I know as well, provides a little bit of positivity during these dark times.