By Natalie Faas, Assistant News Editor
It’s easy to feel sorry for students who graduated in 2020. As we approach a year since the lockdown, it is almost painful to see the Snapchat memories. It seems as if maskless parties were five years ago. This anniversary has forced me, amongst most other 2020 graduates, to take a moment to reflect on everything we have lost.
A year ago today, I was utterly oblivious to what might happen. I was the lead in my school musical, the best GPA I had ever achieved and a position as choral council president.
I was getting ready to go to prom: my friend Carson had made me the most beautiful bouquet of origami roses when he prom-posed. I bought the most gorgeous baby blue ball gown that would rival any Cinderella costume.
My view of the world was completely focused. I had a plan; I would finish out senior year with all of my peers, celebrating what it means to be a senior. I was going to have the most picturesque summer, and, then, I would begin my college career studying what I love at my dream college.
Then, March 13th arrived, and everything came to a screeching halt.
Anyone you ask will tell you a similar story about all that they had planned. Birthday parties and weddings, graduations and other significant events. Concerts, musicals, sporting events. The list goes on.
Not only did my social life disappear with the beginning of quarantine, but my grades also began to tank, and with it, my mental health crumbled.
School started to become a chore. I found myself looking for the easiest way to cheat so that I could go back to bed. Zooms went from being a fun way to connect to just another thing to sleep through.
Throughout the pandemic, it has seemed trivial to worry about school and grades when thousands upon thousands of people have died. I often felt angry with myself when I was feeling sad about losing graduation or my senior concert. How dare I be sad when others were losing their parents and grandparents?
It took a long time for me to realize that we were all just trying to survive. All of the TikTok dances, bread-making, whipped coffee, Tiger King and quarantine walks were our way, as humans, of dealing with the mass amounts of grief we were enduring.
It seemed that teachers also began to be uninterested in school. As seniors, we were already doing “busy work,” so there wasn’t really a point. I didn’t realize how detrimental this might be until I made it to college and had to do school again. Going half a year without sitting in a classroom or doing homework was definitely not ideal, and it showed. My work ethic is quickly drained and I tire easily when I try to sit down and write an essay, something that I used to love.
The transition into college was rough, and while some professors totally recognized this and wanted to help, others just didn’t understand. College is already hard; then, on top of everything, we hadn’t done homework since March, and most of our social lives ceased to exist.
I noticed very quickly into college that I had become an introvert. Throughout the lockdown, I spent almost all of my time alone or with my parents. Being around others constantly was — and, frankly, still is — completely draining physically and mentally. I lost the capacity to hold several conversations at once.
I find that I need to spend more time alone in order to recharge. Naps are way more frequent, and I’m not as outgoing as I used to be.
The list of negative impacts of the pandemic could go on and on and on. Not to mention, according to the CDC, over two and a half million people are dead worldwide. However, there have been small sparks of light to come out of the whole situation.
During March, I was so busy with work, school and musical practice. I rarely saw my parents for more than an hour nightly. The pandemic allowed me to slow down and value my relationship with my parents.
My mom, an elementary school teacher, was home with me every single day. We are both really close but the pandemic made us inseparable. My mom and I would do everything together and developed synchronized routines that kept me excited every day. The simplest things were the ones that kept me going: I would wake up excited to watch our TV show before bed or make our gluten-free pizza for lunch.
My dad was our connection to the outside world. Since he was working in a hardware store, he was deemed essential and went into work every day. He would come home each day with stories — sometimes good and sometimes not so great. He didn’t know it then, but I loved hearing about what it was like to be out in public. He had those interactions that I craved.
Overall, this pandemic has been the worst thing to happen in my lifetime. I never want to experience anything so terrible ever again. However, it has given me a chance to reflect on myself. In those six months, between lockdown and college, I grew up. I removed myself from toxic friend groups and strengthened my relationships with those I love. The best thing to come out of the pandemic was spending time with my mom.
The coronavirus pandemic is the worst, but I am incredibly optimistic that we are close to the end. Having scheduled my vaccine appointment, I am incredibly hopeful for a much better year. Hopefully, next March 13th, we will all be able to gather together and celebrate being less than six feet apart.