Wake up, eat, Zoom school, sleep, repeat. Wake up, eat, Zoom school, sleep, repeat. Wake up, eat, Zoom school, sleep, repeat.
A constant schedule that was meant to last only 2 weeks, lasted for over 2 years. As a high school senior, life as I knew it came to an abrupt stop, and now as a college junior, perseverance and patience have become my greatest virtues.
I remember the cheers in the classroom as the principal announced an extended two-week vacation away from school as if it were yesterday. As a high school senior, worry set in as the understanding that my senior year would not end as planned became more and more of a reality. Two weeks turned into a month, a month turned into a year, and a year after that, here we still are.
As the school year went on towards June, milestones were beginning to be taken away:
Prom, something a girl raised on 80s movies (specifically Pretty in Pink) was anxious for, was gone. Grad Nite, a California school milestone, gone.
Throughout the months, I discovered that my escape from daily repetitious life was social media. Reminiscing on images from the year before with friends. Staring at a smile I no longer had. Wishing I was the girl from before - a girl who was enjoying her life with people I do not even keep in contact with anymore. I do not recognize that happiness in my eyes to be outside with friends. I questioned who I truly was, seeing that the happy me on social media was no longer the true me. My fading smile became a trademark.
I remember sitting on my bed and wondering when this would all be over. Hearing the news of people destroying each other, violence raging, death prevailing. I wondered when we would see the light again and move forward together as one people. Tears fell weekly as I began to believe I was alone. Family was too far to visit, living on opposite sides of the country, and some with miles of ocean separating us. I felt more disconnected than ever, more lonely than ever.
Time moved on slowly, and the days blended into each other. My saving grace became the TV shows I binged and the poems I wrote. Through them, I grew more into my adult mindset. I noticed a trend in the words I wrote. Poems once filled with pain and loss transitioned into pieces of acceptance. Being alone let me become comfortable with the quiet silence and focus on the pieces of me I never fully discovered. Once discovered, I began to pour acknowledgment into every part of me. Good and bad parts of me, receiving love and knowing they are separate from my preconceived parental notions of what my life should be. I am the master of my destiny and hold the key to my fate. Transitioning from a little girl to a woman with separate ideals and mindsets is challenging. It is full of sadness and misdirection but if I remain true to myself, to the woman forged from the past events, I can be myself completely. In my poems, I could notice the shifts from sad diction, to words of hope and inspiration. Signaling a change in me, I became more accepting of the state of the world and the current realization that the bubble of high school life is over. I cannot remind myself of the child I was when womanhood was right around the corner. With that thought, my sadness slowly faded, and I discovered more about myself.
I discovered that the simple joys in life mattered most in the world- fast food trips, ocean visits where I found peace in the waves. I could stare into the mirror and recognize who I was not because of the people around me, rather the smile of acceptance I could still muster whenever someone would say “I am so sorry you did not get a graduation.” I would reply with a “that's alright,” and I would mean it.
I grew comfortable with the silence.
I discovered I am more than what Covid-19 took from me; more than what the world expected me to be. I am more than the tears I shed, I am the flower that bloomed from the soil of despair.
Now at 20, I can reminisce and smile about the times I struggled to find who I was. The girl I was before the pandemic, a distant memory in a woman's eyes is a distant me in the eyes of a woman.
COVID-19 was a journey of self-discovery, and as a high school senior, class of 2020, I wondered what my life would be like two years later. Now it is two years later, and I am blooming.
-- Alexis Hernandez
Alexis is a Junior studying English and Theatre at San Diego State University. She is an accomplished playwright and a published poet. She thanks DBN for this opportunity to make a difference.