Then and Now: How I’ve Changed in Quarantine

It has been almost a year since COVID-19 shut down our schools, restaurants, places of employment and travel plans. We went from daily classes with dozens of other students to Zoom meetings for personal, professional and academic uses. Now, as people are getting the vaccine, we can finally begin to conceptualize what the new normal will look like. However, before we look forward, I’ve decided to look back and see how I’ve changed.

  1. 1. Then: I added a music major. Now: I’m set to graduate with an anthropology minor.

    I spent three of my four years in college continuing my passion for music by taking Conservatory classes. In all of the change between high school and college, playing violin was one of my only constants. I relied on the structure of practice and rehearsals, and I felt myself improving my skills quicker than I ever had before. I will always value the friendships, mentorships and experiences I had in that time, but when the pandemic hit, I had time to think about what the violin really meant to me. The Conservatory is an amazing school filled with students whose deepest passion is their craft. I never truly fit in because while I love the violin, I didn’t share that same kind of passion. When a scheduling conflict made it impossible to continue with the major, I decided it was time for me to follow another passion. This year, I took anthropology classes solely because I really enjoyed the introductory class, and I found an outlet for me to learn about the world around me. Together, I think both departments have made me who I am today, and I don’t regret a thing.

  2. 2. Then: I was actively searching for corporate internships. Now: I still work at a nonprofit in a role that started as a summer internship.

    I laugh when I think about this — what a hair-brained idea. I thought that moving to a corporate position would be ideal after spending two summers in government and a summer abroad. With the pandemic, internship opportunities in the corporate sector suddenly disappeared (or I was never cut out for them anyway), and I was left with one application at the Bishop Sullivan Center’s internship program that I had filled out on a whim. After a successful interview, I began working as an Administrative Intern for Community LINC, a local transitional housing shelter. I still work there in a program role, and I’ve grown more in this job professionally and personally than any other. 

  3. 3. Then: I thought friendship was a number. Now: I have a circle of people that truly know me.

    A year ago, I spent most of early March planning my 21st birthday party with my best friend. At work, I decided who I wanted to invite by writing down a list of everyone I knew and wanted to invite. Looking at the list made me so proud; it felt like I finally “fit in” and made enough friends to seem like I was a local, well-adjusted college student. However, as all late Pisces and Aries babies know, Kansas City’s shut down was in the middle of March, and for me, it was the weekend before my party. I was crushed, but over the last year, I’ve realized that there is no specific number of friends that any one person needs to be well-regarded by others. Quarantine has forced me to reevaluate what friendship looks like, and I can say that I’m content with how I’ve been growing. I’ve made distant friends, close friends, built a new relationship with my boyfriend and solidified my friendships with those near and far away from Kansas City. There’s nothing wrong with having lots of friends, but learning to value my close friends is a lesson I needed to learn.

As we move into a post-COVID world, I am looking forward to going back to restaurants, studying in coffee shops, traveling around the world and seeing my extended family. I’ve been lucky to avoid losing anyone in my close family and I’m grateful to still be employed, but I know this quarantine has been much tougher for others. As I look forward to my next challenge of law school, I know that my experiences and lessons that I’ve learned will help me know both who I am and who I want to become.