In Their Own Words

In Helena’s Rant: Still a page unturned in my books

In a very me-like fashion, I am typing this very reflection while repeating one specific song and avoiding my schoolwork. Nonetheless, this has been a very common occurrence for me throughout what we call the pandemic, one that I can say has changed the very course of my life.

Excluding the more serious aspect of the deaths that the pandemic has brought the world, I’ll truthfully take a look at COVID-19 through my own experience, which I’ll admit has contributed a hefty amount of teenage angst and maturation.

It started in Grade 10. I remember doing my exams for the first semester while the beginning news of COVID-19 began wavering out. What started as a two-week break … well, now I am a first-year university student! Can’t believe it. Still don’t know how I got here if I’m being honest.

It’s interesting, I’ve always been fascinated about the thought of reflecting on the person of your past. I am a very nostalgic person, always have been, and so it makes sense for me to feel a little, what’s the word, reminiscent, as I look back.

COVID-19 has been difficult. I will say that. There have been periods where I honestly was not at my best, where I felt alone, missing out on the high school and teenage experience. I missed my friends as I isolated myself at home and slowly drifted from daily life. You’ll even hear me now blaming COVID-19 for my lack of a romantic relationship (yes, you’re allowed to laugh).

But I also know that I’d be a bit untruthful if I were to say that I hated it. That I could pin all my misfortunes on the pandemic only.

I have grown in more ways than I could have imagined, even if that means just staying in my room and discovering myself. I spent more time with my brother; I read 10 times more books than I would have; I succumbed to TikTok; I bought a longboard only for it to now sit in our garage.

Unconventional, sure, but I started a club in the pandemic, balancing both online and in-person events as our school board switched from hybrid to quadmesters to hybrid again. I did my level 8 violin exam through Zoom, which I can’t promise sounded pleasing for the examiner, but I passed nonetheless! I got report cards back, one after another, then came time for university applications, figuring it all out myself at home, then the whirlwind of graduation, of Prom, of a driver’s licenses, all at once … and now … I’m here.

It’s impossible for me to fit my thoughts on COVID-19 in 500 words, so I’ll end it now. My reflection is rather incomplete, I know, but it seems fitting, no? To me, COVID-19 meant more like how I have grown, and since I am continuously changing every day, then I guess I’ll just have to see where I end up tomorrow …

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Helena Xu

University of Waterloo – First Year Student
Waterloo, Ontario

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