Can any of us honestly say we thought we’d live to see the day where we would be scared to go to the grocery store? Where we wouldn’t be able to see our friends and family? Where teenagers would actually miss school? Life right now feels like a zombie apocalypse: something we all joked about, but never thought to become true. Now it is my reality. Every day I hear more and more people have died, hospitals are running out of PPE, doctors are exhausted, toilet paper isn’t even on the shelves anymore. What has happened? One minute I recall sitting in the car on the way to Florida, excited. Next, my phone is blowing up. Everything I love is gone. COVID-19 has taken away every part of what I considered my “normal life” to be. Despite this, I am grateful for all I have lost.
My life moved a million hours before this. School, homework, sports, more homework, bed, repeat. Day in and day out I lived like a robot repeating the same mindless tasks. I didn’t mind the lifestyle by any means, otherwise I wouldn’t have chosen it. However, I enjoy being able to be home every day. I can go for a bike ride with my sibling at one o’clock in the afternoon. As a family, we have all gotten so much closer. After we have finished “school” for the day, we go outside and play together. My mom, sister, and I regularly go on runs together. Every night we sit around and play card games, or do puzzles. I can’t help but think that none of this would’ve happened without this virus. I miss the little things like everyone else. I will never take for granted going to the grocery store, seeing my grandparents, and even school. I never thought I’d live to see the day where I miss going to school. Even so, social distancing has given me a chance to work on myself. I have taken the time to improve aspects of my own life that were struggling before, like my mental health. I have been able to better myself, which consequently has allowed me to be a better friend, sister, and daughter.
Even though I am unable to see my friends and family who I pray every day are safe, I have become closer to them. The uncertainty of life right now has brought me closer with almost everyone in my life. I now nightly call my grandparents to check in on them. I text my friends simply “hey how are you?” as much as possible to make sure they are okay. None of us are in the same boat, yet we’re all rowing in the same direction. Some people I know love this; life was going too fast for them and this slow down was needed. Some people I know loved the fast life and this slow down is really testing their mental health. Some people I know live in fear of the virus due to weak immune systems. Some people I know want to get the virus so they can get over it.
However, we all are missing something. There is no doubt in my mind that we all want something back. We have all learned to be thankful for the small things. Whether it’s waking up in the morning, to simply going to the store with your mom, or even sitting in that one class you hate, needless to say life will be different when it resumes to whatever will become the new “normal.” This is a time for all of us to discover something new, whether that being something about yourself, a new interest for you, or building a new relationship with someone. This is uncharted territory, why not make the most of it? Life is nothing but uncharted territory. This one involves us staying at home, not being able to see friends and family. However, love, compassion, kindness, and caring aren’t physical. They’re virtues. Just because parts of your life have been stripped from you doesn’t mean we all need to sink into a depressed state of mind. We are all on this boat ride together. Relationships aren’t built on being physically together, they are built off love, trust, compassion, kindness, and so much more. That is why long-distance relationships are a thing. Life doesn’t need to come to a complete halt because we can’t see each other. We can adapt. Together we can lift each other up, be lights for each other in this darkness.
I thank the Lord every day that I woke up healthy, that my friends and family woke up healthy, and that I still have a roof over my head. In a time where it seems like I have nothing, I have come to the realization that I have a lot more than I thought. If I hadn’t been forced into quarantine by our state governor, I wouldn’t have been able to reflect upon all I have. In the end, all that I have lost to COVID-19 is nothing compared to what I have gained and will gain from this experience.
Share your own story here. Sharing stories is a powerful way to connect with other people. Be part of the Teen Health & Wellness Personal Story Project—like Ella did above—and share your story about successfully dealing with or overcoming a challenge.