Wise Words From A Pandemic-Tired Teen

The pandemic that began in 2020 has been a traumatic experience for millions of people in the world – a lot has been lost but also a lot has been discovered. I found that it’s possible to see the brighter side of a difficult situation. The timing of this event had occurred in my most transformative years, so as I’m trying to grasp an understanding of the changes in the world, I too, am also going through the normal changes of a teenager, except under lock down. 


Self Identity:

Before the pandemic hit, my life wasn’t much that I paid attention to. This sounds strange but is simply the only way to describe the way I saw myself. I was more focused on the social statuses in school and maintaining mine as I befriended new people and got closer to the world of basketball. I wasn’t paying attention to who I was as a person because I was so consumed into the constant ordeal that consisted within life. School. Basketball. Homework. Repeat. I was always out of the house. I never felt comfortable in my house because I was used to going out to basketball games, practices and hanging out with my friends. To ask myself what I prioritized or who I was as a person were questions that I couldn’t even answer. I can only think of the high levels of insecurity that I ignored. I was used to being in the background of the limelight that my friend was under. Staying home and being quarantined was a troubling experience because I had to adjust to being away from the people I held so much comfort with. My friends were my security blanket that had just been ripped away from me. 


I didn’t know what to do with myself. I spent months wasting time watching TV shows, eating and sleeping. Then a spark ignited in me to not spend these unknown months falling into a bad habit. I was missing basketball, so I decided to spend time working out everyday after online school. That was helpful in getting my heart rate up and having my body moving. Then eventually I wanted to venture into healthy eating. That was a fun dive to explore because I would go on Pinterest and find so many interesting recipes that I would make that were healthy and beneficial to me. I grew 

an appetite that was so strong towards healthier options that sweets were a rare food that I would indulge in. I moved onto eating in smaller portions and paying attention to my reaction to certain foods which led me to get rid of milk from my diet and investigate the world of vegetarianism. Not only was I getting my body right but I was also making an effort to get my mind right as well. I began listening to podcasts and meditating to help relieve myself from anxiety. I became a very controlled person that followed a schedule with strong discipline that allowed me to flourish in other areas of my life. 


I didn’t know what to expect when I heard about the nation-wide quarantine. I knew that it was going to be weird considering how often I was used to going out. Once I got settled into spending everyday for 24 hours in the house, I really enjoyed the free time. I was fortunate enough

 to have all that I needed in my house to keep me comfortable, fed and entertained. There was also a period where I decided to spend time off a screen because my eyes and head were hurting from constantly looking at a device from morning to night. Therefore, I made an effort to start reading a book throughout the day to give my eyes a break. I also had moments of deprivation from being outside. When my sister and I first were out of the house in months, I remember us being so shocked at how different everything was. All the new buildings built of fast food places, small business and gas stations were so surprising to us. We hadn’t seen any people our age besides each other so the first day of school was really awkward for me to continuously converse and it took a lot of energy out of me. I went home and was knocked out immediately because of how exhausted I was. 


From listening to mental health podcasts and watching wellness videos, I began seeing things very differently. Friendships began to shift. In realizing the true importance in life and how friends should be reflective of my character and my values, it changed the way I saw my friends and the way I sought out friendships. I surround myself with good people but now I interact with them differently and don’t engage in pointless conversations or tolerate unnecessary drama. I began thinking about the importance of certain issues and if they would matter and stopped seeking out for the newest gossip and instead focused on my own path. 

Social Hierarchy of HS: 

It relieved a lot of the bad energy I was so used to. Before COVID-19, the typical making fun of and drama-focused life I lived was all I knew so when there was a year long pause away from that, I walked into a whole new world that wasn’t any different – I was. In the months I spent focused on my education and my mental health, I came to realize the stupidity that came with high school. That constantly judging others wasn’t

funny but a sign that others were highly insecure in themselves so they tease others who are secure in who they are as a way to deflect from their own internal issues. I saw the people who claim themselves to be “popular” and “jocks,” to be really sad people. I began to notice how trying their act for coolness was and how desperate it was to think they must keep up with it. That their strong value in sports, though valid, is ridiculous if it makes them think they’re above everyone else because of it. The first day back at school, my eyes were opened to people who would be mean for the sake of status. That the way I used to see “nerds,” was heavily influenced by that toxicity that I fed into because of my involvement with sports too. But intelligence in other areas is also admirable, that those “nerds” grow up to be successful people and are often the happiest people because they don’t put up a front to fit in with a certain group of people – they are entirely themselves. Therefore the social hierarchy of high school is irrelevant seeing as that we are all equals with our own unique talents. 


The transition from in person school to online school was a better adjustment because I love working independently. Being able to work at my own pace and get work done fast was like heaven to me. The grading criteria was easier and I was able to explore online resources to help me in certain classes. Though the transition from online school back to in-person school was a rough adjustment. I had to relearn how to gain and retain information in a room filled with other students and how to rely more on my brain. Following a schedule was tougher – not being able to go to my fridge for some food, to watch Netflix while in class, to wear my pjs and roll out of bed, and wake up later than usual, was such a hard thing to let go of. I’ve gotten better adjusted to the in-person school lifestyle but online school is a part of my life that I wish I cherished more because I miss it a lot!


I’ll never get back a year of normalcy as a teenager, but I’m glad that I was able to mature from it and because of it. Though that youth and bliss of ignorance was robbed of me because of COVID forcing the world to shut down and really see the social injustices that have been and would have been suppressed, it made me really appreciate life and the ability to live it considering how unpredictable the disease is. My generation has been exposed to extreme amounts of information the internet contains and it has allowed us access to the realities of society that I believe was necessary for us to take with us in creating change and fostering a better society.