Finding the silver lining during a pandemic


Columnist Isabella Yennie

Story by Isabella Yennie, Reporter

The beginning of a pandemic was my dream come true. The last two months of a stressful junior year cancelled, but with a twist. A worldwide pandemic occurred and I was confined to my home. Never in a million years did I believe I would be living in the plot of a Sci-Fi and Coming of Age film. It’s been over a year now since my reality shifted. Some parts for the better, some parts as lessons. Reflecting upon myself as the main character of the story, my life has made a complete change since March 13, 2020. This is how the pandemic has played out from the perspective of a virtual senior, from social life, school and mental health. 

Spending time with myself over lockdown was very beneficial. I learned to enjoy doing things on my own instead of always being around others. As a former fully-booked and busy person, I could finally put my feet up for a moment and relax. I can’t even count how many Netflix shows I was able to watch. Without dance camps or practices over the summer, I had the ability to try new things. I now know how to longboard, weave friendship bracelets and even nicely cut my own hair. It was so strange asking “What do I want to do today?” instead of “What will I do with my friends?”

Social media use was not only at a record high for me, but also a blessing to stay in touch with my friends. With nothing to do and nowhere to go during lockdown and summer time, people responded to my messages quickly. Although, after several months leading into the school year, social media turned sour. I found myself becoming angry at simply everything. I wanted to be eating out with friends, participating in the rescheduled outdoor recital, and have that same excitement of visiting my teachers in the fall. With social media, I saw others living a life without me in it, smiling in all their pictures. Due to my not so fabulous immune system and the unknown of what could happen, my parents and I decided that my physical health was more important. Staying away from the things I love was difficult, but not worth the risk. I’m always humbled and grateful every day for my health, however, it doesn’t take away my jealousy of my peers. 

I haven’t attended a class in person for almost three semesters. I remember being as excited as Ferris Bueller for the extended “Spring Break,” but I felt the exact opposite after remote learning for so long. All the little things I took for granted about school, talking in the halls, greeting teachers, working with friends, all disappeared. No matter how hard I tried to look on the bright side, online classes just simply weren’t the same. School generally wasn’t something I’d spring out of bed for in the morning. Although, now I find myself pleading to go back one more day to experience it all. 

As of right now, my mental state is doing well, but in January 2021, I was reaching my limits while missing the life I once had. Some days I didn’t feel like working, while others I completely overwhelmed myself in stress. Because my grades didn’t fluctuate, no one suspected any struggle. For myself, it wasn’t the work that was the problem, it was being drained of motivation from the pile up of negatives throughout the course of the pandemic. 

The best thing I’m currently doing for myself is attending virtual therapy and receiving anxiety medication. At first, the stigma around mental health got in my head. I felt embarrassed and weak for needing some assistance, but that didn’t compare to the positive results. My therapist helped validate my series of stressors and the very real effects of isolation. We set small goals and new perspectives of thinking. At this moment, I was taken back to my time of physical therapy because of a dance injury. I realized that this situation was no different, and when we fall down, it’s okay to ask for help to get back up. Therefore, I stopped feeling ashamed. With guidance from her, I can be gracious for a variety of events that I was fortunate enough to experience: being by myself for awhile, creating my own schedule, and my after lunch power naps. However, the most important result I took away from therapy was gaining some self-confidence. 

Self-confidence, something I’ve battled with throughout my life, improved through my little goals and being separated from others. When I wake up in the morning, I actually appreciate my appearance. I stopped wearing so much makeup every day and worrying if my hair looked perfect. Without a place to be and no one to impress, I quit tearing myself down on the days I needed to throw on a pair sweats and crank out my assignments. Of course, I’m sure to look presentable when recording videos for a virtual task. However, the valuable part of being away from society and its pressures is that I realized the only person I ever needed to look good for and appreciate being around is myself. If none of these events ever occurred, and if I hadn’t attended therapy, I don’t know if I would be as confident or as strong as I am today. 

When I look back on my pre-pandemic self, I realize how much I’ve grown. Whether it’s gratitude or how to adjust to technology, there are many worthwhile lessons I’ve learned throughout this time period. I’m not quite sure when my world will return to normal again, or when this pandemic plot will reach its resolution. Although, I am fortunate enough to say that I’m still here knowing there are others that didn’t make it. Even though my world has been very dim over the past year, the light at the end of the tunnel is finally growing.