There it is. There is that awful sound booming out of my phone at the ungodly hour of 7 a.m. I hit snooze a couple of times, but after a certain point the bliss of sleep melts away, so I roll out of bed and drowsily head towards my bathroom to brush my teeth. Then, I stuff my notebooks and textbooks into my backpack and head down the stairs following the delicious aroma of a warm breakfast. After I have eaten my fill, I put on my shoes, say bye to my parents, and head out the door to face another brand, new day of school, fill my head with even more knowledge, and meet my friends. I do the same thing every weekday, and I have since I was 5 years old. School isn’t just a place to me anymore; it’s where I fell in love with learning, met my closest friends, and made countless memories I will never forget. But as I leave that morning to go to school, I don’t think about how precious of an opportunity it is. I don’t think to myself, “Aren’t you lucky that you have the friends you have and you get to learn the things you do?”
Then one day, the world seemed to completely stop. Suddenly, I was waking up minutes before class because school was only three steps away from my bed. Suddenly, I was spending days on end in my room, taking my classes online, studying for hours after school, and then going to bed. Suddenly, I stopped talking to my friends; the people I was once close with slowly drifted away. My routine of going to school was flipped upside down because I no longer went to school. I spent a quarter of my junior year and almost all of my senior year blindly following Google Classroom notifications and repeatedly staring at lifeless Zoom screens filled with words and numbers that I was supposed to memorize. School no longer felt like school to anyone, and our drastic switch to online learning seemed to affect everyone.
I don’t think there is a single person who has not been affected by COVID in some way. This sudden change that forced us to stay inside is both emotionally and physically suffocating. As a senior who has been attending school virtually for almost a whole year now, I have first-hand experience of how challenging online learning can be. As grateful as I am for the countless hours my teachers spend preparing virtual assignments and projects for us, the in-class lectures, the lunchtimes spent with friends, and the ability to meet and connect with new people is irreplaceable. My pre-quarantine routine was founded on my relationships with loved ones, and I never realized this until it was taken away from me.
Honestly, it is a bit intimidating at times; it feels like this medium of education will never end – and this is coming from someone who has proper internet and service and extremely supportive parents. I can only imagine how difficult online school must be for those students who viewed school as an escape from their home or for students who are struggling in their classes and don’t know how to ask for help. For me, pre-quarantine seems like a time that we will never be able to get back to. My routine of going to school, getting to be with my friends, and learn new things every day seems like a distant dream now. As I wish for a time that seems impossible to imagine now, I eagerly wait for a day where COVID is a thing of the past. It seems highly unlikely that once quarantine ends, our lives will resume as “normal.” However, quarantine has been a huge eye-opener for me; the little things that I used to take for granted because they were part of my “routine,” such as spending time laughing with my friends, sitting in a classroom surrounded by other students who are eager to learn, and the idea of freedom, are now things that I am going to try and cherish as much as I can. It makes me wonder just how much there is in life that everyone takes for granted – whether you think you have very little or a lot. I hope that in post-quarantine, our society enters a new era where material success and status aren’t emphasized over things like friendship and mental health to the point where what we have is taken for granted.
There are a lot of people who work extremely hard to make online learning possible, but we shouldn’t discount the feelings of stress, anxiety, and isolation that emerge from it. These feelings are temporary; but can still affect your ability to do well. It is important to remember that you aren’t bad at what you do just because these emotions bog you down in difficult situations! The routines we followed our entire life have completely changed, so it is okay if you still haven’t completely gotten used to this new way of living. If quarantine has taught us to be grateful for what we have, that also means that we should be grateful for ourselves, and that starts with you showing kindness to yourself. Especially for students right now who are struggling to keep up with online school, you aren’t lazy just because you feel unproductive! Be patient and kind to yourself because that is what will motivate you to keep trying.
In this new era our world has entered, our past routines won’t always help us be successful – new habits and thought processes that bring positivity to our lives are more important now than ever before.