At the beginning of the pandemic, I didn’t take it as seriously as I should’ve. It wasn’t that I walked around without a mask, but I didn’t realize how serious it was. I live in a small town and at the time it didn’t seem like a real enough thing to come and spread in my town, but it did, and we were forced into lockdown like everyone else. At first, I didn’t see anyone except for my parents, but eventually my friends and I got bored, so we started meeting up in a parking lot in the middle of winter to socially distance but still hang out. Eventually we got comfortable enough after a couple months of freezing in the back of our cars to hang out at each other’s houses. My sister gave birth to my first nephew in May and I still haven’t met him and it’s December. This makes me sad because he’s already getting so big and we haven’t even met him, but my sister is taking extra precautions and doesn’t want us to visit yet. The pandemic, however, brought my friend group closer than ever because we only ever saw each other and our families. So, our memories and bonds became stronger than ever and became one of our only social interactions.
During the summer my friends and I though advised otherwise, mostly pretended the pandemic wasn’t happening. We didn’t go out much, but we had been around each other constantly, so we created our own bubble within our eight-person friend group and spent our last summer before college together. We would go out on my friends’ boat on the lake for hours, until the sun got low and we were burnt from the sun. We were with each other almost every day and didn’t get sick of each other, this was probably because we didn’t have many other choices as for entertainment, but we enjoyed it, nonetheless. We became closer than ever and became so attached that when it was ultimately time for us to leave, most of us cried. The pandemic made us get creative with our hangouts and created a lot of memories for stories for all of us. In some ways, it was a blessing because of how close it brought our friendships. We did however have a few mishaps and almost exposures.
During the fall, I moved to live on campus. I loved being on campus but the risk of COVID was so big and as everyone knows, spread quickly causing campus to shut down. I left as soon as I could and left most of my dorm decorations and such behind to come back for two weeks later. I packed all the clothes I could and all the essentials and schoolwork because I wasn’t sure how long we’d be gone for. Before that, I loved being on campus, my friends and I had a little friend group that hung out and went to most meals together and even went for dinner in town. I got really close with one of my friends from home and spent most days and nights with her. Adjusting to life on campus wasn’t too hard for me because it just kind of felt like sophisticated summer camp with masks. I enjoyed the independence and freedom of being able to go wherever I wanted without having to tell anyone else. I miss campus and I wish we had gotten to spend more than 12 days there because it was just starting to feel like home.
I think most people my age would say they’re angry or upset with the way COVID has taken away some events in our lives, but honestly, I’m a little thankful. My graduation still got to happen, and I didn’t have to waste as much time sitting through the ceremony. instead, I had a designated time to show up to walk the stage which made it much easier and quicker to finish the ceremony and get my diploma. I am a little upset I didn’t get to play my senior season as captain of my rugby team, but I’m sure there will be other opportunities to make up for the lost time and season. I don’t really mind wearing masks and honestly, it’s the least we can do to protect everyone else from ourselves, but a lot of people seem to have a problem with it. I think a lot of people forget that this isn’t the end of the world and there have been pandemics that society has survived before and continued afterwards. I believe people should take this time, if they haven’t already to reflect on what they want and how they treat others going forward. Isolation is the perfect place for reevaluation and realignment within oneself.
Personally, for me the pandemic has been a gift. I had a rough year going on before that, I was dealing with the repercussions of my parents’ separation, the betrayal of a close friend, and the death of my childhood best friend. Before that I wasn’t coping well and lack of sleep from school was not helping me heal any faster. Instead, I’d be overtired and unmotivated, falling asleep in class, and when I got home, I would feel alone and unresolved from all the change happening in my life. So, when the pandemic happened, I was finally able to rest and catch up on months’ worth of sleep. Once I recovered from over exhaustion, I could finally see the problem’s I was facing instead of ignoring them. In my isolation I realized a lot of self-worth and did a lot of much needed healing and reconciliation with myself and those I’d pushed away or unintentionally hurt. So, while the pandemic did take many things away, it made me a better person and I think that’s more important than anything temporary like senior year or anything that us freshmen missed out on.