As I type these words, tears fill my eyes because the past year has been a struggle for me. In fact, it has been the greatest struggle I’ve ever known in my 15 years of living.
I can vividly remember who I was before I was forced to quarantine. I was in the eighth grade and my interactions with other people were not really the best. As I gained a higher social profile, I wasn’t treating others the way I would like to be treated. That’s a motto I try to live by — the Golden Rule. The way I was thinking was so negative that it spewed into my actions with classmates and especially with teachers. My conversations with them were filled with nothing but churlishness and sarcasm.
Before I knew it, I, like everyone else, was forced to stay at home in March 2020, the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Usually, I have pretty good mental health, but April 2020 to February 2021 almost got me. Distance learning was hard for me. But, while my teachers were trying to help me through my schoolwork, I started to realize how much they cared about me. When I finally broke down and apologized to them for my disrespectful attitude, I felt this weight lifted off my shoulders. It took me being locked in my house to finally say I’m sorry.
This past year was not that different. With more online schooling, it was once again emotionally draining. I could actually feel my sanity slipping. But good was happening inside my heart, too.
I learned how to go out of my comfort zone and ask for help. I learned that I actually am a supportive and thoughtful person. I learned I’m adaptable, and I’m also thinking about my future more. I started having very engaging conversations with my teachers through Google Meet. As for friends, I realized that even though we weren’t seeing each other as much, our bond was still strong. And as for the person I was able to see more, my older sister, we became closer than ever. Those bonds were all strengthened because of the pandemic.
So how has last year changed how I engage with people? A year later, back in school, I have a more positive outlook about people. Empathy is something I now carry with me. I understand everyone went through challenges last year. I’m more expressive and smarter, and I’ve attracted a lot of people into my social life because of that. After all the extra screen time, I’m more aware of what’s going on in my society and I’m more passionate about social issues.
Even though I absolutely despised the corona-infested 2020 and 2021, I now realize the tears in my eyes made things blurry, but the experience is actually allowing
ThreeSixty Fall News Team students wrote op-ed stories, then turned them into digital essays, inspired by the #360YouthVoiceChallenge, which is inspired by youth.