My Story: Lessons Learned


On March 13, 2020, I was 13 years old. For months leading up to March, I had been dreaming of a way to get out of going to school. My eighth grade year had felt exhausting and I dreaded going everyday. When I learned that my school would be closing and extending our spring break by two weeks, I felt nothing but relief. I soon realized that this closure would bring changes to my life that I could have never expected.

I started my break by going to stay with a close family friend. Indulging in this well-deserved break, I spent a few nights at this friend’s house, we baked cupcakes, stayed up late, watched movies and enjoyed ourselves, care-free. The news came out that there was a mandatory two-week quarantine for people in our area. Naive to this virus, there were a thousand possibilities on the horizon and our families decided it was safest for me to stay at their house.. The next two weeks would be spent away from home.

Nearing the end date of this quarantine, we would learn it was to be extended by another couple of weeks. As this trend went on, it became the expectation, and uncertainty began to settle in.

Approaching two months away from home, and struggling to adapt to a new territory of online schooling, my lifestyle was beginning to drift downhill. Sleeping in late, missing assignments and unhealthy coping mechanisms consumed me. This was more than I had ever been expected to do on my own. Without guidance from parents and teachers, I lost control of responsibilities.

Scarcely finishing my last year of middle school, I went back to the comfort of my home, now with the knowledge that I am capable of living away from my family for months at a time. School wasn’t something I would have to worry about until the next year.

Fall of 2020 was my first year of high school. I knew nothing about my school, and knew no one who would be going there with me. Each class was a different array of black screens and uncomfortable faces. Mine blended in fittingly.

The workload was new, and difficult. More than ever, independence was forced upon me when it came to my education. Alone in my bed, there was no one to keep me on track, not to tell me, “don’t fall asleep”, or “pay attention”. It became comfortable to ignore the stress that faced me, rather than to ask for help. If I didn’t think about it, it didn’t feel pressing. Other obstacles in my life demanded my attention, and school easily became an afterthought.

This way of living wasn’t sustainable. With deadlines, my grades were rushed to a satisfactory level at the last minute in order to stay afloat. A feeling of being lost and behind constantly crept around me. With this weight wearing down on me, I was forced to adapt and learn how to succeed in this new environment of learning. Tiringly, this was not a linear process. I spent many months unsure of what to do, but learned that through reaching out to teachers, I did have people on my side.

During the school year, I not only overcame challenges, but learned that I could do it more independently than ever before.

When I look back at March, nearly two years ago, I admire the inexperience of my mind and the wish to not have to go to school. I now crave normalcy and appreciate any time I have the privilege to spend learning and socializing inside my highschool.