“Welcome to Winona Drive Senior Public School.” New teachers, new friends and a new chapter. After all, it was middle school. So much to learn and see, just where do I start? But it came at a cost, I felt lost. What if I don’t fit in? Where is the closest unlocked washroom? Did I bring my pencil case? The daunting once-distant thought became a reality. Rows and rows of rusty lockers awaiting a new tenant. As I carefully placed my belongings into my locker, I curiously observed the messages left from previous students. My exploration was quickly cut off by my teacher’s stern voice. At that point I realized, this year is going to be interesting.
Surrounded by unknown faces, getting used to the school environment took some time, but routines gave me some assurance. I really wanted to take a step out of my comfort zone, so I decided to give sports teams a shot. It didn’t go in. I stuck with academics and the arts instead.
Science✔ Design and Tech✔ Band✔ I made sure to never feel bored, to never feel the emptiness of my long lunch breaks. Grade 7 flew past me like the drivers on my block, no second thoughts.
Now Grade 8 seemed pretty forecastable. Knowing my classes, teachers and peers painted a vivid image of smooth sailing. But then, COVID joined our lives. It wasn’t long before my ideal lifestyle came to a screeching halt. From the dust, my questions emerged. “So, what now?” “What about my job interview?” “Do cloth masks really work?” While these thoughts pondered around my head, I felt the emptiness of interactions. Every interaction became so monotonous, lacking deep expression. That really exposed my vulnerabilities. Why did I value the smile so much?
The things I missed the most, were the ones I cherished the least.
With uncertainty expanding over the horizon, the awkwardness was an understatement. While news reports blared the newest case counts and the lives lost, I was trying to gain traction in the ever-deteriorating and demanding world of online learning. From “you’re muted” to “sorry, my wifi cut out,” I realized that this was the new “normal.”
With no recovery in sight, I realized the things I missed the most, were the ones I cherished the least. Smiles. Handshakes. Hugs. “What makes a smile so special?” “What about casual interactions?” Amidst the confusion, small things seemed to be the spark of my innovative ideas, something to keep me mentally stimulated over the months. My curiosity would lead me to all corners of the internet, but would ultimately bring me back to an inquiring state of mind.
With my personality changing like the passing seasons, I learned to embrace the privileges and take the responsibilities that come with them. Caring for ones that care for you, regardless of the circumstances. Being grateful for every interaction, showing regard to whoever raised you up when you were down. Taking time to appreciate those that stuck by you through these tough times. This is my COVID-19 story.