In this Together: Reflecting on a Year of COVID-19

If you told me that I would spend six months in my room with the freedom to do anything alone, a year ago I would have been caught nodding with the full confidence of a child and saying, “That’s easy.”

Pre-pandemic me would have welcomed that idea with arms wide open; I could finally dedicate some time to making art, reading books, and watching every film in existence — the absolute dream. Or so I thought until the time for me to do all that actually came. COVID-19 metaphorically pushed me into the deep end of the pool with no warning: suddenly I was not where I was before and the only thing I could focus on was keeping my head afloat. 

Once that unfamiliar threat of the virus appeared, people panicked. COVID-19 took away peace of mind from everyone I knew, myself included. Lives came to a halt as businesses shut down and almost everything moved online. Simply caring for my physical and mental health cost more energy than what I was used to. School, the sole reason for seeing my friends and teachers, closed down, yet the pressure to keep the same pace as in-person classes remained untouched. However, a push into a pool only feels chaotic until the initial shock wears off. 

Soon after quarantine started, I grew familiar with the physical isolation and the virtual classes. I cooked my own meals, studied on my own time, and made my own daily routine. I even got to pick up a new hobby and finally catch up on those Netflix shows everyone else was watching, but after completing them came an empty feeling in my gut. I was lonely. Quarantining started to feel normal, but dealing with the anxieties and fine problems of it all never got any easier. 

Despite that, I found that getting in touch with my friends and family made me feel comforted. Speaking with them helped me realize I was not as alone in my struggles as the physical isolation made me believe. Even just receiving a simple good morning text or a relatable TikTok was enough to remind me that there are people I could rely on. Of course, I also think that listening to what other people have to say and supporting them is important. It gives me a sense of connection because I can relate to what they are feeling.      

The more time I spend in isolation, the more I miss being with the people I love. Like they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Having a year to reflect gave me a deeper appreciation for those who have supported me throughout my life and for things that I never gave a second thought to that proved essential, like technology and the opportunity to learn. I find strength in knowing that people are going through this tough time together, wrestling with their own problems, but continue to move forward in the same direction.