Written by Lily Polenchuk
Edited by Yunshu Li, Allison Chen, J Cameron, and Nikol Nikolova
Sometimes, I can’t help but mentally list the ways this pandemic has impacted me. At the beginning of 2020, I could hardly wait for all of the new and exciting opportunities this year would bring; as a high school student, my mind was teeming with upcoming band tours, school trips to Peru and France, and the school spirit days I had been looking forward to.
Then March hit and everything went downhill. The talk of the town at lunch tables and in hallways was COVID, COVID, COVID. At first, it wasn’t a big deal— until everything we were looking forward to was canceled. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, my school announced they were officially closing. That was when I realized everything was going to change very fast.
The first month of quarantine was actually quite exciting. The concept of online schooling was all very new, and being able to attend math class in bed seemed like a dream come true. My schedule was very relaxed— I’d wake up whenever I wanted to, attend zoom classes half asleep, and stay up until 2:00 a.m working on assignments. But in just a few weeks, the loss of face-to-face classes started to catch up to me, and suddenly I found myself suffering.
As a social and outgoing person, hanging out with friends is one of the things I love doing the most. Losing the ability to see my friends really took its toll on me, and gradually I began to spend more and more time in bed.
My lack of social interaction severely impacted my studies, and I soon realized just how much I depended on in-person classes. Assignments began to pile up in no time, and I’d procrastinate on both new and overdue assignments alike. However, the absence of in-person interaction wasn’t the only source of my newfound lethargy— I was also lacking a routine.
The existence of an everyday routine makes or breaks both my physical and mental health. Before quarantine, school dictated when I’d wake up, what I’d do during and after classes, and when I’d go to bed. For me, no school meant no routine, and that didn’t work out so well. So, I decided to create a new routine. I started waking up early in the morning to go for a run. Afterwards, I’d shower, make breakfast, join my class, etc. I kept up the same routine until online school was done. It was very challenging to do so— many days I’d find myself sleeping through alarms, procrastinating, and lacking motivation. I lost count of how many all-nighters I pulled just to catch up on assignments. But I stayed persistent regardless of occasional shortcomings when it was tough. I found it easier to stay motivated if I set goals for myself. So every morning, I’d set out a small list of objectives I wanted to accomplish that day. I found that if I made a goal too hard or complicated, I’d have a hard time actually completing it. As a solution, I had a big task I wanted to achieve, I’d first break it down into smaller and simpler steps. However, even as I gradually adjusted to quarantine life, there were many moments when I’d think about the ways this pandemic will impact my future, and just how different life is going to be because of COVID-19. Even after establishing a routine, I still found myself falling down the rabbit hole of worry, confusion, and sadness.
I’d often find myself wondering about when the quarantine would end— something I still worry about to this day. I’d find myself worrying about my family and friends, and watching the news during the first few months didn’t help ease my anxiety since it seemed as if everything would get worse with each passing day. But as summer came around the corner, I started to worry less. Where I live, the number of daily cases began to fall tremendously, and I began to hope that life would start to return to normal, even just a little.
I’ve recently learned that school will reopen in the fall (with proper safety precautions, of course). Everyone has mixed feelings about going back. Some of my peers are happy about it, while others are understandably worried. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to seeing everyone again. I never thought I’d say this, but I actually miss school. I miss my friends, I miss walking between classes, and I even miss studying in the cafeteria. But at the same time, I understand why others are worried. At a high school comprised of more than 1000 students, we’re practically a COVID-19 wildfire just waiting to happen. But after reading about the safety precautions they’ll establish, I think a safe return to school might be possible. Rather than worry about factors I can’t control, I’ll do what I can to help keep myself and my peers safe by following the safety precautions, wearing a mask, and regularly sanitizing my hands.
The pandemic is still here, and many countries haven’t been as fortunate as my own. I’m grateful to live in a place where lockdown has practically been lifted. I’ve been able to see friends, enjoy the weather, and slowly return to some semblance of normalcy. Unfortunately, not everyone can say the same. Some students will physically return to school in the fall while others will not. This pandemic has taken its toll on students everywhere, but it’s not something we need to face alone. Reach out to your friends on social media and spend more time with your family. Remember, it’s never too late to get back on track. We are going to get through this pandemic, and we’re going to do it together.