THE NEW NORMAL: New Storyline

Manwela Katas

In life, we go through many events that change the entirety of our storyline, but COVID-19 created a whole new story for me. Before COVID-19, I would dedicate my entire life to school; school was all I did, all the time, at any time. So, you can imagine what happens to someone like me who has no life outside of school and hates change.

COVID-19 cut off my 8th-grade year, the year that was supposed to prepare me for the real deal: high school. The week before school shut down so many of my friends were talking about how the COVID-19 was spreading everywhere and schools were shutting down, but we never thought this would become a global pandemic that turned our whole world upside down. On March 13, 2020, all schools were called to shut down for two weeks, and I thought after those two weeks everything would go back to normal. However, the days went by and I found myself starting my freshman year of high school.

After spending so much time not doing school work, my procrastination level was at an all-time high and having online school did not help to fix that. At the beginning of the year, I struggled so much with keeping up with school work since there was no one motivating me whatsoever. On the other hand, in in-person school, you’re able to enjoy school a bit more and you have more motivation since you’re surrounded by people who push you to do your work and teachers who hold you accountable. Online school was the complete opposite, and for me it was just me, myself, and I that I got motivation from. Eventually, I was able to adapt to virtual school: I made a routine for myself, I dedicated time for studying, I pushed myself to spend with my family, I called friends, etc. However, all that did was put me deeper in the hole I was already in. How you may ask? To be honest, I’m not sure, but what I do know is that I felt so disconnected from everything for some time. Although this was a very difficult time for me, it taught me how to depend on myself, and how to get myself out of certain situations. It was one of the biggest lessons I took out of this pandemic.

Being isolated for so long took away from my social skills. I used to be the loudest person in the room who wasn’t afraid to speak up. So, when we went back to school, I was expecting to revert back to my old shell, but I wasn’t able to go back to being a social butterfly and that frustrated me so much. That’s when I learned that not all change is permanent because after about three to four months, I started to slowly get back my wings and get back to being the social butterfly I was. However, that does not take away from the fact that this pandemic has made a permanent change in my life. I was supposed to have a normal two years of school, but those were taken away from me. I saw myself grow up without really realizing that I was, and I can’t change that. I watched family members and close friends lose their lives to COVID-19 and that’s also permanent. I constantly live in the fear of a close family member catching COVID-19 and that’s a feeling that will take a while to go away.

So many aspects of my life have changed throughout the last two years, but with that change comes endless lessons to be learned. The most important one–however–is that now, this is our new normal.