How 1.5 Years of COVID Changed Me as a...

How 1.5 Years of COVID Changed Me as a Person

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By Erin Rebello

I can still remember that Thursday afternoon when the province of Ontario announced that they would be shutting down elementary and secondary schools for two weeks due to preventative measures surrounding COVID-19. Back then, I was excited about an extended March Break and was already planning all the video games I would play and movies I would watch. Now, 1.5 years later, as we begin opening up the world again, a lot has changed. It’s almost as though I look back on that far-gone March afternoon through a long tunnel with a great deal of distance between who I was then and who I am now. From navigating virtual learning, to cancelling many of my plans, to changing my individual education and career goals, the COVID-19 pandemic has taught me a lot about myself, and who I am as a person.

The Good:

Over the past 1.5 years, there were many positive aspects of the pandemic that brought rays of joy into my life. For starters, with online learning and the switch to virtual, I got to stay home with my family and spend more time with them. Rather than spending all day at school, I was able to study in the comfort of my own home with the rest of my family. Speaking of school, I also cut out my entire commute to school, saving me about 2 hours every single day, which is time I didn’t even realize I was losing!

Another positive of the past year of isolation was my exploration of personal interests. In the quietness of quarantine, I had the opportunity to develop my art skills, experimenting with various mediums including watercolors, pastels, textile mediums, and even digital art. With all restaurants, movie theatres, and malls closed, my family turned to nature for entertainment. We hiked and biked on local trails, and took road trips to remote hiking sites to really get outside. From these experiences, I found that I absolutely loved the great outdoors, causing me to more deeply consider earth sciences and environmental sciences as a field of interest.

The Bad:

Although there were many positives to the pandemic, it would be unfair to define it only by the high points. As a global society, millions of individuals have died, and hundreds of millions more grieved as they grappled with the loss of loved ones. Although I was very fortunate to only know a couple of people who passed away, this pandemic has truly been a somber event.

On a more personal scale, one big aspect of the pandemic that severely impacted me was the switch to virtual learning. Although I already had issues with time management and focusing in class, virtual school and the quadmester system really exacerbated the issue. I found myself losing focus and struggling to keep up with online lectures, resulting in higher stress levels, and a significantly worse mental state in comparison to pre-pandemic. On the brighter side, I’ve finally begun speaking with professionals to get to the root of the problem and resolve any issues.

The… Different:

There were parts of the past year-and-a-half that are easy to classify as either positive or negative, but there were also some that weren’t so black and white. For example, over the course of quarantine, I found myself drifting away from some people and drifting closer to others. Although it was unfortunate that I didn’t see some of my schoolmates very often anymore, I didn’t really feel bad, because there were other people I enjoyed spending more of my time with. Although this is a bittersweet awakening that most people notice during the switch from high school to university, the pandemic and social isolation expedited these epiphanies.

The main takeaway I have from this pandemic is that I am a completely different person from who I was at the start – and that’s completely okay! I experienced some major transition periods during the quarantine, and there were some experiences that I missed out on, but in the end, I feel that I came out as a new and better version of myself. However longer this pandemic lasts, I’m truly excited to see the person I become.

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