Nearly a year ago, all of our lives changed drastically. I remember sitting in my high school third-period class when our principal announced over the speaker that we would be going home early that Friday, which would commence a two-week break due to COVID-19. None of us thought much of it— we were ready to go home and relax—but little did we know that our two-week break would be extended, leading to the cancellation of the rest of our school year including prom, graduation, and many other events we had worked hard for in our 13 years of grade school education. The pandemic led to social and economic disruption, mass cancellations of events, worldwide lockdowns, and eventual protests due to racial disparity. It felt as though we were locked inside, seeing the world outside fall in on itself.
Preparing for my first year of college gradually became less exciting, but then in August of 2020, as the semester was ready to begin, it became little more than a distant thought. My mom had developed a cold that worsened very quickly, and ended up being a case of COVID-19. She was in the hospital for more than a week, leaving me to care for my younger siblings who were also starting school. Gathering their school supplies, attending to household tasks, checking up on my mom who I was not permitted to see due to COVID-19 regulations, and attending to my own responsibilities, became very stressful. I forgot to take a step back and breathe so my anxiety began to have a grip on me.
While my mom was hospitalized, I had prepared her a bag and went on my way to take the bag to her. My mind was bouncing between thoughts and my hands clenched the steering wheel on the drive to the hospital. After arriving, I walked silently towards the building in the cold rain when something colorful caught my eyes. There was a beautifully drawn chalk butterfly that read “Hope Rises” near the entrance. It might be juvenile, but for a moment it felt as though the world was telling me to be hopeful and that everything was going to be okay. Today, my mom is once again healthy and I am three months away from finishing my first year of college, but my experiences in 2020 and my journey as a first-year student reminded me of a valuable lesson: hold on to hope. As my mom’s journey to stabilized health continued, and I began classes on Zoom from my bedroom, I kept this mantra in mind and strived to practice gratitude in all aspects of my life. Most importantly, I had to shift my focus and notice all the things that were working instead of being consumed by what was not.
I decided to give it my all and make the most out of this experience. Joining different organizations at Agnes Scott such as Selah, Her Campus, and even the Student Government Association, allowed me to connect with peers who were also having their own unique hardships and experiences. Although we may think that we are going through something alone, one can quickly learn that they are in fact not alone in a situation—that is the spirit of community. Engaging in extracurricular activities can also redirect your mind and current emotions. Needless to say, my freshman year of college was not a direct path nor was it easy adjusting to this new normal but rising hope and connecting with great people definitely helped me push through such an irregular excursion.