Some things are just uncontrollable. During these situations, plenty of things that you’ve taken for granted in the past, you now realize just how much you enjoyed them. This has been a recurring theme ever since COVID-19 has taken over Americans’ lives. Both of the authors have experienced this, along with many other Americans.

Olivia’s Personal Experience

COVID has affected my life in several ways. When it first struck and closed school down for “two weeks,” I was just at the height of my junior year. SATs, AP tests, prom, starting my third lacrosse season, visiting colleges, ring mass, senior portraits, all of it. Preparing for college but also being able to enjoy the less hectic part of the year. We all thought two weeks meant two weeks, not the rest of the school year. However, I never got the chance to fulfill the things we missed out on. Our AP tests were online, we never had our prom, and every SAT I sign up for gets cancelled. We had our Ring Mass, but not the one we were all very excited about. 

I haven’t been able to see my friends for months. I thought my senior year was going to be like everyone else’s, but instead, I roll out of bed and log into Zoom. I chose all-virtual for the first semester for both my high school and St. Joe’s (I take classes here on a program) because I do not want to risk exposing my grandma to the virus. The virus is still rapidly spreading and we still need to be conscious of our surroundings. Life has changed drastically, it feels weird to watch my in-person classes through Zoom and see everyone wearing masks. I was excited to get a taste of what college is like, but all I’ve found out is Zoom makes my laptop overheat. 

However, I know many people have it worse than I do. My mother works in the restaurant industry, so that left her without a job ever since March. COVID has taught me I’ve taken the little things for granted. I never knew how much I would miss eating lunch with my friends, laughing about how our snacks were stuck in the vending machine, or writing a timed-essay every Tuesday. On the other hand, it has taught me how to be more grateful for everything and has brought me closer to my family. Considering we were all spending a very long time together trapped in our house, I realized I should have been doing this all along. I am grateful I didn’t let the pandemic ruin my life completely, but many did not have that choice. People’s livelihoods were destroyed, and many survived off of a very small unemployment check and a one-time stimulus check. Young children and students with learning disabilities struggle with transferring to online classes. Business sales went down for small businesses, leaving some forced to close. Health care professionals risked their well-being for those who needed them, and shoppers were fighting in the middle of Walmart over who could have the last toilet paper pack. I’m grateful for the fact COVID only made my life more difficult and did not completely ruin it, but 200,000 and counting Americans aren’t here to testify what COVID did to them.

Jadrian’s Personal Experience

This has been a very tough time because people have had to change their way of life and the things that they are used to. In normal tasks such as going to the grocery store and going to do everyday things, there has been change. This may be a very easy adjustment for some, but for others it can  be difficult. People have been laid off, or their businesses have failed, in which they have to hurry to find another source of income: not only for them but also for their families. Many people have not been able to get a new job and are relying on unemployment and donations from various organizations. This can have a big impact on people’s mental health because they feel they don’t have much value and can’t figure out if they’ll ever be able to have a full time job again. 

This pandemic has affected my life in many different ways; by me not ever being able to finish my school year and walk the stage, and also by the decisions I’ve had to make because of the circumstances of this difficult situation. I play basketball here at SJU, and I made that decision by not even visiting the school because of the circumstances. All this going on they are making us take extra precautionary measures. It just makes everything in our lives a little more difficult. I never got to have a normal recruiting process because of this pandemic. Usually coaches would be able to bring me up to other states and also come down to my state to visit me and build more of a relationship with teammates and friends. However I was unable to do this due to COVID. 

Online classes have been very challenging to adapt to since I am used to being  in a classroom with a teacher. It’s harder to make connections with classmates and professors when you’re looking at a screen instead of sitting next to the person. When I’m having a problem with one of my classes, I can’t just pop in and get 1 on 1 help. We have to communicate via email or text to set up a virtual meeting online to get the help needed. It has been much harder being social because of this, and it has been harder to meet new people along the way like you usually would. 

As for the sports aspect, normally your school would bring you up on campus early to get adjusted and workout with your team for team building. This semester, I know several other sports teams have had workouts in pods or at different times. This way of doing things makes collaboration difficult because not everyone is working together like usual. For teams who are supposed to be in fall sports, they are not even having a season at this point. This has to be very demoralising for them because they have worked so incredibly hard for this. As a basketball player, there’s so much uncertainty because we don’t know what our season will look like and one thing can mess up the whole season. 

In these times, we have to be extra careful and cautious because other people’s lives, jobs and even futures depend on you making the right decisions. While we are in these times, try to be more clean than you ever were. I know on the news they say wear your mask, wash your hands and keep your social distance. If this happens, we may have a chance for things to go to a new normal.

Do Your Part

COVID is something that affects all of us, and we all need to do our part in stopping the spread. Wear your mask, wash your hands, social distance whenever you can. If we follow the guidelines the CDC has set, there’s a chance we can live like we did before Covid.  Make sure you do your part to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.

Tips on how to stop the spread, graphic made by Rachel Kwok for HawkcHill. All images from Canva