In March 2020, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. School had just been let out for spring break, but due to lockdown, classes moved online for the remainder of the school year. This was especially detrimental to my class, the graduating class, because we were not aware that the last day of our high-school careers had happened. Because of this, I’ve never felt like I graduated.
I am an introvert, so I acknowledge that lockdown did not affect me in the same way it affected others. My favourite thing to do is be alone. I fill my time with hobbies such as singing, writing, reading and running. I’ve never had a large friend group and going out to socialize isn’t essential for my well-being. Staying home was easy for me. In fact, I was passionate about it. If all we had to do to protect our community was to stay home, then so be it. I thought about how in war-torn countries, even home isn’t a safe place to be. I recognized that there were exceptions, such as abusive households, so staying home became even more important to me. I would stay home for the people who couldn’t.
What affected me the most was how resistant people were and still are to keeping their community safe, the people who disregard public health measures such as mask wearing, social distancing and vaccination. Following these measures means caring for others, especially disabled people and marginalized communities. My brother is immunocompromised, and to think that someone could potentially infect him by refusing to follow health guidelines caused me and my family immense stress.
I stayed away from work for as long as I could for my safety. However, in 2021 I got a job. I needed money and found comfort in the fact that masks were mandated in B.C. Unfortunately, I contracted COVID-19 in January 2022. I caught it from an authority figure who was improperly wearing a mask. The sickness was terrible to my body and to my mental health.
Throughout the pandemic, I’ve learned that people have the capacity to be so incredibly selfish to the point where they are willing to endanger other people’s lives. I’ve struggled with depression because I’ve felt so helpless. I do everything right: I wear a mask, keep within a social bubble, and stay up to date with my booster shots. But it all feels so useless if no one else seems to be participating.
The pandemic has forever changed my life, but I am proud of myself for practicing compassion and empathy, and I find comfort in the fact that I am doing the right thing.