Published: June 2, 2021

Currently, our world is changing during our physical and mental fight against the novel coronavirus. Truthfully, the coronavirus started as much less of a real threat than it is now. I think it’s fair to say that most of the country was not worried about how it might affect us when we first heard about it. Now that it is in full swing in the United States, we are all now well aware of how much of a threat it is. From virtual education, to social distancing, and taking care of family members, the coronavirus has proved to be stressful. I find that I have a lot more time to myself which provides more reflection time which I will always welcome, but not having the option to be with others has proved to be extremely difficult for me during this period. The coronavirus has affected my family and my daily life drastically in terms of social activity, education, and income.

This is especially true to the younger children who find themself running around the house, bored, or not able to learn properly. The pandemic has also affected the youth. Most kids need to be outside and with people to release their energy and socialize. Children learn and grow as they experience more. Now, these experiences are greatly restricted and cannot happen in order for everyone to stay safe. I remember writing down in my journal early last year that, “the neighbors are always playing outside on their lawn …I asked [my neighbor] why they weren’t inside or ever studying and she, surprisingly, told me that they simply couldn’t afford to have them inside the house.” My neighbors consist of a family of a housewife, a work-from-home father, and two elementary school children. The kids were 9 and 6 years old respectively and had more energy than my entire family combined. They were, “not doing any extracurriculars, had shorter and fewer classes, and missed playing with their friends.” They, unlike many of the preteens and teens, did not have many social platforms or technology that allowed them to socialize with others apart from their family, something that concerned me greatly.

My neighbor once told me that her husband now worked for many longer hours. He, much like my father, was now noticeably more stressed out, lacked sufficient sleep, and worked from around eight in the morning to late in the night or even early the next day. Working while having the energetic and bright young children making noise around the house was impossible with the number of meetings and check-ins he had to go through. Workloads have increased and the strain on adults like my parents was very noticeable after the quarantine. One of the big problems that came with work was the income. Our family had to save up in terms of electricity, gas, and even shopping bills. We would set up budgets, something we had never needed before. We didn’t have a lot of savings before but we always had enough to get by and the extra dollars to buy new items, get gardening supplies, go to other classes, and pay for extracurricular activities. By this time, we had already spent a good amount of money on canned goods and other items we had hoarded out of shock and fear. In the beginning, I had been so afraid that I holed myself up in my room 24/7, only going out when I needed to get food or do my chores.

At one point, I had written in my journal that, “Even though we live in the same home, seeing or even talking to [my dad] seem[ed] like a rare occurrence. And the worst part is that I hadn’t even realized how much time had passed or how distant I had become until my father walked into the kitchen one day saying ‘Hey, where have you been? I haven't seen you at all since last week!’” He had chuckled and almost brushed it off lightly but I could feel the horror of the reality come to light. I had alienated myself from the outside world. At the time, this stage felt comfortable. I would stay in bed all day and avoid responding to texts. It was a daily struggle to convince myself to shower and do basic self-care tasks. I didn’t feel like eating healthy or working out. I wanted to be alone. I wanted to be as far from my old life as possible, so I could ignore the feeling of loss I had. If I didn’t think about my friends and my opportunities, I couldn’t miss them… right? I broke out of this stage when a friend finally got a hold of me, and we had a genuine conversation for the first time in a little while. She reminded me of just how much life I have yet to live but the detachment had made me feel so empty and I had lost a lot of time.

Furthermore, my life took a huge turn when education became virtual. I own an old, reused Chromebook at home so when I first started with zoom it would always say “high CPU usage” and I would often not be able to use my mike or hear what others were saying. Technology problems made it near impossible to function and noticeably lowered my participation during classes. Not to mention, sitting at a desk all day. I despised online learning when I first started. Over time, I could see the teachers and the staff had noticeably put lots of effort into the virtual environment. In my opinion, online learning gave too many opportunities for distractions. However, the education has greatly improved over this school year and I am glad to say that my peers and I have also adjusted to the new learning environment.

Although the pandemic has greatly affected my life as well as many others, it has also allowed me to do better. You can pick up a new hobby, learn a sport, change your lifestyle, improve a skill, etc. When you look around and see those friends, neighbors, acquaintances, or even strangers that are struggling, the coronavirus can motivate you and urge you to help one another. I was astonished when participating in food drives and other volunteering opportunities throughout the summer of 2020 when I saw how many people needed extra help. Whether it be food drives, donations, setting up a group project, or even studying in school, the coronavirus gives you a lot of time to think, grow, and become a better person. As the saying goes, we are stronger together than we are apart.