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The Life Lessons I Have Learned From Being a Teen in a Global Pandemic

When COVID-19 first became serious in The United States, I was 18 years old. Months away from turning twenty, I think it is a good time to take a moment and reflect on what I have learned about myself and my surroundings since this started.

1. Plans change

Before the pandemic, I was used to things working out the way I had planned. If I was scheduled to go on a vacation, I could always count on hopping on the airplane the day I was scheduled to. When COVID-19 came, I had to learn the hard way that this is not always the case. Sometimes in life, even the plans that appear to be the most seamless do not go the way you want them to. I always planned to have a sophomore year of college full of meeting new friends, joining new organizations, seeing guest speakers at my college, and even getting to attend concerts and plays at school. As I near the end of my experience as a sophomore, most of these things did not happen. Yes, I was and continue to be disappointed, but I am also trying to focus on what I do have and what I can experience. 

Photo by Edwin Hooper from Unsplash

2. Life is short, try and make the most out of it. 

I watched as people lost their lives to this horrific pandemic, many of whom were far too young to have considered death as a possibility. This was really scary for me because I had previously written off death as something that happened when someone got old, not something that could sneak up on you at any point in time. This really made me think about how I want to spend my life. I want to do things that bring me joy and feed my soul. Furthermore, I want to actively avoid the things that tear me down and make life more difficult. 

However, having this realization in the midst of the pandemic almost made it more difficult to cope with social distancing. For me, the things that really make me happy are socializing, traveling, adventuring, and spending time with the people I love. Each one of these became much more difficult amidst COVID-19 safety restrictions. 

Of course, my number one priority throughout this was to maintain my own health, and also keep other members of my family safe. Due to this, though, I had to give up some of the things that make life more tolerable. 

3. You can cope with more than you think you can

If a year ago today, you came up to me and told me what this pandemic would bring to not only my life but to everyone around the world, I think I would have shut down. I would have felt like there was no hope, and it would have been difficult for me to get out of bed every day and pretend that life would ever be the same again. 12 months later, I have survived more than I ever thought I could. I’m still here, I’m still learning and growing every day. 

Yes, I’m still coping with this thing that I had hoped would simply be a blip every day, but I am so grateful that all of my friends and family members are still here and still healthy. I feel like one of the lucky ones, and I also have faith that things are getting better.

reuseable surgical mask with phrase \"don\'t panic\" on a pink letter board
Photo by Tonik from Unsplash

Nicole is a Junior at Kenyon College studying Spanish and gender studies. Hailing from northern New Jersey, Nicole is passionate about wildflowers, baby animals, and small bodies of water. In addition to writing for HCK on-campus, Nicole plays on Kenyon's ultimate frisbee team, blu-ray.
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