The dark ages.
Prior to Covid, I was an active member of my school community. I was Class President in my Freshman and Sophomore years of high school, I performed in theater and Show Choir and was involved in various clubs and sports around campus.
Outside of school, I volunteered, worked, and kept up an active social life filled with dances and games. Pre-quarantine I would consider myself social, extroverted, comfortable, and happy.
In the first few months of 2020, I was rehearsing to perform in the play “The Music Man” at school. We were in the middle of Tech Week as Covid started to become a real concern. We would get debriefed before rehearsal every day on how there could only be a certain amount of people in the theater, a number that decreased every day as fear of closure started to creep closer. None of us understood the severity of the situation.
I vividly remember walking out of class into the crowded passing periods I was used to, and hearing people buzzing about Coronavirus and how Disneyland and the NBA were closing down. That was when I knew something big was about to happen.
Sure enough that day at rehearsal, my director said we would be filming the show that weekend because she wasn’t sure what the next few days would look like. The next day school was canceled. Rehearsal was canceled. We never filmed Music Man.
I never went back to school.
The first couple of weeks were actually refreshing, and life was slower. I watched Tiger King. I baked cookies. I read new books. I began running. However, the novelty wore off as weeks turned to months.
I started to miss my friends. I started to miss school. I missed my brother’s 8th-grade graduation after he had attended the same school for 9 years. I missed my Aunt and Uncle’s wedding, and our family trip planned for my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary because they were all canceled.
I started to miss the little things I took for granted like walking into a store without waiting in line, buying groceries without letting them sit for 48 hours in the garage before we could touch them, or hugging my friend on the way to class.
School starting in the fall of 2020 was my new low because unlike earlier in the year, it seemed like we were running out of hope. I began my Junior year in my bedroom, a door away from my brother who was starting his first day of high school online.
Every day ran into the next. Months turned into a year.
I would go days without even stepping outside. It was a suffocating lifestyle: no stimulation, nothing to look forward to, quite frankly nothing to be living for.
My mental health plummeted. I no longer cared about school. I would not go if I didn’t want to. I also had to take on the responsibility of keeping my brother on track while my parents were at work. Staring at a computer for eight hours is unexplainably draining.
It was also challenging to watch my friends decline in front of me. My once-thriving peer group of friends now were suddenly drowning with various issues including (but not limited to) depression, anxiety, and severe eating disorders. My best friend went from being a 4.5 GPA student to a 2.3.
When the mask mandate was lifted, I cried tears of joy. I was finally free. I had been vaccinated for months and this felt like a huge step towards normalcy. I was so grateful to be attending in-person school. I love school. I love my friends. I love going to Giants games.
I have already seen a significant increase in the morale of my peers being back on campus. Everyone is so much more motivated and socialized like normal teenagers should be, finally getting some of the time back that we deserve.
I read an article about how the pandemic will be the formative tragedy of our generation as 9/11 was for the generation before us. I wholly agree. The repercussions of this year will be felt for decades.
We have the choice right now to begin healing or to revert back. I understand how unprecedented this was. I get why we handled it the way we did in the past. But I have had enough character development for a while – I want to be a kid again.
Just let me go to school.
- California High School Student Exposes ‘The Dark Ages’ of COVID Lockdown - October 12, 2021