By Riley Martin
Graphic By Sara Valbuena
As we are now entering a state of greater comfortability and safety, more and more things are returning to normalcy. There were not only changes to our daily lives throughout COVID-19, but immense self-involved changes as well. Now, we are left trying to figure out how our “new” selves fit into the world we see re-developing today.
Holly McKay, a junior at Las Lomas, noted that the biggest impact on her current self was all her regular extracurricular activities her schedule was filled with. She commented, “I had to adjust to this very relaxed schedule which normally sounds like a good thing, but I personally just want and need to be busy all the time.” McKay found herself not having much alone time prior to COVID-19 due to this constant business. As a result of being forced to have alone time, she said, “I think as a result of that, I’ve kind of developed my personality to what’s true to myself.” This change was unexpected for McKay and wasn’t realized until it had come full circle. While at the beginning, adjusting to this new alone time was difficult and finding new ways to keep the boredom back was difficult, she ended up with a change that was all too familiar: her true self.
Gavin McCommon, a junior at Las Lomas, has gained the skill of enjoying and fully understanding the importance of the small things in life as a result of COVID-19. When thinking about COVID-19, he believed it was a necessary perspective check. He said, “I think this year has been a very good example of things not going as planned and showing us how important the little things are and I had lost sight of that prior to all this happening. COVID-19 in a way has almost grounded me and given me this realization that as important as the big things are such as school, work, and your future, the little things still require just as much attention.” Undoubtedly this was a horrible price to pay in order for so many to be grounded and truly understand the importance of those little things. As McCommon said, “COVID-19 was a good reminder of this, however, not in the most orthodox way.” COVID-19 forced many to subconsciously or consciously reflect on themselves and ways they could improve themselves that ordinarily wouldn’t have happened without such a shock to their lives.
Kaia Doyle, a sophomore at Las Lomas, describes COVID-19 as “something that I will despise and thank for so many beginnings in my life.” Similar to many students in the beginning of COVID-19, Doyle was ecstatic to have time off from school especially in hopes of improving her grades and her mental health. Unfortunately, the change in herself wasn’t as positive as others, as she felt extremely affected by the fact that she couldn’t see any of her friends or play the sport that she loved, volleyball. Not only did her own mental health impact her well-being, but the thought of others going through the same thing did as well. She said, “The world was at an all time low with everyone going through the same struggles, but no one could go help one another.” Although Doyle has experienced some intense lows during quarantine, she still feels grateful for the skills and values that COVID-19 has taught her. “I took for granted the freedoms and abilities I had when there was no such thing as COVID-19 and now I appreciate every moment.” Gratitude is both a value and skill that COVID-19 has commonly taught to the majority of the people, including Doyle.
Hannah Pell, a junior at Las Lomas, has witnessed fundamental changes in herself that she thought were simply a part of her personality. In her words, “People used to exhaust me, still do sometimes, but the time I’ve spent away from everyone has made me realize I like them a lot more: teachers, classmates, strangers in the grocery store, and even my friends. I was never a really a people person, not until I spent a year without them.” When Pell described her old self, she described how little interest she had for school or even getting out of bed, but now, “Things I used to dream of doing, sleeping all day, staying in bed through all class periods have become mundane.” All these realizations drove Pell to understand how much she truly changed through the strange circumstances of COVID-19. By stripping away what was originally interesting to Pell, it allowed her to adapt and find new things that she found were more interesting than the contrary and as a result: “I changed too, I got healthier, happier, I got a job, I reconnected with family.”
Through COVID-19, values and interests were changed as a result of such a shocking change to our lives. A thematic value throughout all of these biographies is gratitude and appreciation. These values have now allowed students to make the best out of their days. As Pell said, “After this year, my grandma’s Christmas candle ceremony is sounding as thrilling as Coachella.” Although horrific things transpired in the past year with COVID-19, these events have also enabled so many students to change into people that they are proud to be.