By Ella Javorsky
2020 was a year filled with challenges, disappointments, and uncertainty. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck and led to a complete shutdown on March 13th, practically everything that we had once taken for granted was altered. The changes were beyond our control. Education, socialization, and structure were modified and practically eliminated from our everyday lives. As teens, our lives transformed from juggling a heavy workload with extracurricular activities, sports, and socialization to simply staring at the walls and the immediate family members we were trapped inside our house with.
Through the unprecedented times in which the future was unclear, innovation was compulsory to staying sane. We had to find ways to keep ourselves occupied, healthy, and happy. Everyone had their own way of coping. For me, exercise has always been a mood booster, something I am passionate about, and a consistent part of my daily life. However, during quarantine, my love for fitness grew even more, and I developed strict routines and schedules to stay active. Exercising enabled me to stay positive and provided an escape from the horrors of our reality. It allowed me to be in control of something, in a time in which control was a commodity. I also developed a love for nutrition, as I had plenty of time to cook healthy meals, research the body and the dietary effects of different foods, and explore new healthy options. Focusing on my health gave me a goal, a purpose, and a distraction from the world around me.
While we weren’t in control of the circumstances, we were in control of our attitude and how we reacted to life in quarantine. One could either pass through the mundane days by watching television in bed, or they could discover new hobbies and passions. I had a proclivity towards puzzles and journaling, for example, during quarantine. We all gained a sense of independence, as we were in charge of how we spent each day and what we took out of it. Although most of our education was asynchronous work, we could make the extra effort to attend an optional zoom session or email a teacher with questions. In regards to socialization, we had to find creative ways to stay in touch with our friends including Facetime calls and socially distanced walks outside. We were taught to live in a time where tomorrow was completely unclear. Exploring new activities and taking on new responsibilities gave us a sense of control and structure that we craved during the unpredictable time. Sophomore Sam Gershuny reflects, “While quarantine restricted us from being able to do many of the activities and sports we love, it also gave us the opportunity to develop new hobbies and interests. Specifically, I enjoyed doing puzzles with my family, tie-dying clothing, and biking with my siblings when the weather was nice.” Chloe Bernstein adds onto this point, “During quarantine, I was taught to be proactive and innovative in order to maintain a sense of normalcy in such abnormal circumstances. One of my major takeaways from quarantine was how much I bonded with my family members. I took the extra step to spend time with them and do fun activities that we wouldn’t regularly take the time to do.”
As we enter 2021, hopefully a better year than the last, let’s take the lessons learned from COVID-19 with us and use them to better ourselves. Let’s seize every opportunity, no matter how big or small, and overcome the limitations we faced during COVID-19. Let’s focus on the things that we can control, instead of those that we can’t, since the future is still uncertain. Maybe this is our physical and mental health, our relationship with family members, or our academic career. While we cannot change what is going on in the world, we can change our attitude and outlook on it all. So let’s find the positivity in every situation, and even during our worst moments, let’s acknowledge how far we have come.
We have lived through history; times of fear, uncertainty, loneliness, and horror. We have lived through moments of the pandemic that we will never forget. We have faced loss and grief, but we have also learned how to cope with these circumstances. Now, in the new year, let’s change our perspective on life and use our past experiences to guide our successes in the future.