In Their Own Words

Fractured Hope

There are so many ways in which people have tried to summarize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in one sentence that I don’t even know how to start this without borrowing some annoyingly overused phrase.

No string of words have ever fully captured my feelings about the pandemic, so I won’t bother trying to do so for the sake of an interesting introduction. One sentence that did stick out to me was when reading about this project: “Yet, there is one group whose stories have not been told, and whose perspectives have not been sought – Canada’s youth.”

I didn’t realize it until I read that sentence that even among my peers, I don’t think we ourselves talk about it enough. It’s such an understatement to say that the pandemic derailed our whole high school careers.

The pandemic began when I was entering my second semester of Grade 9. While most of my classmates were celebrating the break we’d get from school, I had a slight sadness in me because I knew school was what maintained a lot of friendships because it was an excuse to see people every day. Facing people every day was what also had us constantly learning social cues and other everyday social teachings. I hadn’t realized it then, but school was also the source of a lot of validation that I craved. Excelling in school and receiving good grades was what made me feel hopeful for the future ahead of me. With that, I was always a hopeful person.

I always had hope that things would work out OK for me in the end no matter what I did. It’s what kept me hopeful that the pandemic would end shortly. And when it didn’t, it was the kind of thing that makes you rethink your entire life at the sweet-sounding age of 16.

I can’t even sugar coat the way that learning through the pandemic fully broke me. It shattered my identity of being a good student that I held onto for so long, and when that was taken away, I didn’t really know how to function anymore. Life became monotonous, colourless and hopeless.

Learning online was bleak and made it seem like school wasn’t real – like it was just a video game that you can log off from at the end of the day. So, coming back to in-person learning felt like falling full force into the deep end.

It is only now, at the end of 2022, that I feel I am piecing my identity back together. I can only hope that all the pieces fit together before I need to apply for post-secondary programs, before I graduate and before the world unexpectedly and tragically falls apart again. It is now, at the end of 2022, that I am regaining my charming hopefulness, hoping that it shines a path bright enough for the rest of our generation to appreciate the future ahead of us.

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Allison Abo

Father Michael Goetz CSS – Grade 12
Mississauga, Ontario

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