A Year Later: Pandemic Reflections

Growing up, I've always been obsessed with the springtime due to the constant changes in nature and the gentle weather. Around my hometown, there are beautiful trees that blossom every corner and leave a thick yellow carpet of flowers beneath them. Spring is definitely about renewal and change, especially spring of 2020. I remember the sequence of events clear as day since I've replayed it within my head over ten times. After days of rumors and speculations about COVID-19, my campus sent an alert advising students to head back home and switched classes online immediately. Within two days, I had packed up all the belongings within my apartment and rushed straight to the other side of the state to my parent's house. A year in my hometown and 12 online classes later, it's safe to say I've reflected a lot during this springtime. 

When COVID flipped my world upside down, I was in my second semester as a UF freshman. Fall term was challenging as I tried to find my place in a new school without any friends. Everything about college life seemed so foreign to me, and I didn't really have a template on how to go about it as a first-gen student. Luckily with time, I started making connections and gaining experiences around January. Spring term was looking very promising, and I was excited about everything I would be able to experience until it happened. I knew that this was a severe problem, but I just hoped it'd be over around December 2020. I hoped I would be back by the springtime, and things would be OK again. Ultimately, that has not been the case since I'm still back home attending Zoom University. 

Despite the disappointment, I have come out of this as a new person. I have learned so much about self-preservation and prioritizing mental health during crises. I have tapped into communal care, mutual aid and organizing, due to the financial, health and social injustices during this time. I have realigned my personal path (multiple times) and realized that life isn't one steady road. Instead, it'll twist and turn, but the journey is worth it. I learned to trust my truth and my intuition. I have connected with the more artistic side of myself that I've always tried to shut out. This has been a tool on days where I feel like the world is bleak, and it hurts to accept reality. I was reminded of how priceless life is, considering all the innocent lives we lost and the fact that I got COVID in 2020. I try to live life to the fullest and commit myself to do things when I want to. Tomorrow is not guaranteed, so we have to do our best in the present. 

These experiences and lessons are formative to who I am as a person and who I see myself being post-pandemic. While the end is not really clear, I feel hopeful that there is a light at the end of the road now. I hope that the next springtime will be full of joy again and remind me that change is always coming, and while it may seem hard at first, you will reap good things, too.