Nobody wants to read another pandemic story. It’s held up the news channels for months, was buzzing on social media for a good couple of weeks, and made it nearly impossible to surf the web without some form of COVID disclaimer popping up. The 2020-2021 academic year was a curveball, what can I say? But perhaps the masks zooms, and social distancing is not all it should be remembered for.
No one likes change, and if they say they do, they’re probably lying, because, in some small corner of your brain, I can assure you there is a voice of hesitancy and reasoning working on pulling you away from jumping into the deep end of life. However, if I’ve learned anything this year, it’s that when it comes to being faced with new and unfamiliar challenges, the world will never adapt for us, we must be the ones to modify and change ourselves to survive.
A lot of people; students, teachers, friends, family, frontline workers faced a challenge in surviving this year. Not in the way they worked on just avoiding the virus, but also emotionally, psychologically, and even physically, as many tend to overlook the damage these situations of isolation and then sudden reopening can do to the human psyche. Surviving is an interesting choice of words I use here, one that I’m even surprised by, because for the most part, when we think of what it means to “survive” we think it must always have something to do with fighting off death or overcoming some harrowing danger. For some of us that was true, maybe some people did have to physically fight for their lives, or face some extraordinarily challenging tasks, but at the end of the day, it’s impossible to know for sure. This is partly because survival, like clothes, looks different for everyone. Some people experience it and talk about it openly, sharing it with friends, family, and whoever will listen to the stories of the incredible adversities they faced. Others will remain quiet, perhaps still struggling in silence even- but at the end of the day every single one of us has dealt with our unimaginable pains and struggles in our way, something we are all entitled to.
I didn’t want my last article for the year to be sad, but even I find it a little hard to look back on this year and not regress my own personal bit of sorrow. I think throughout this year, we have all packed mental and emotional bags, ones we have all arranged differently. For some people, the bag was light, because, in some ways, the pandemic brought out a positive good in them; perhaps this was by giving them the chance to focus extra time and new ways of learning onto themselves, and their wellbeing. However, there also may very well be a collection of secret hoarders around us, carrying the heaviest bags filled with conflicting emotions, a lost sense of self, and intrusive thoughts. I think the greatest task done this year was figuring out how we wanted to carry these bags to sustain ourselves to the best of our ability, it was certainly a daunting task. However, as we close off this school year, I think the many ways in which we have adapted has taught us all that it is sometimes okay to sit down on the floor and sprawl out all the things in our bag to figure out what you truly want to leave behind or bring forward into the future. It’s a tough decision, I know, because clinging to the normalcy we’ve developed makes it seem hard to let go, but sometimes that’s a good thing.
Evolve or remain? A pivotal question I think this year should be remembered by. Sometimes things break, change, or alter themselves, that’s just the brokenness of the world for you, but it’s similarly important to remember that all things can be mended, fixed, and remade, often 10x better than they could’ve started as. That’s the outlook I would like to keep about this pandemic, and school year, as we as a student body move on, forever changed by this great challenge of interesting proportion.