OPINION: One year later


Courtesy of Dulce Maria Lara

High school seniors were forced to sacrifice some of their once-in-a-lifetime experiences due to the pandemic.

It has been a year of life during the COVID-19 pandemic.. 365 days later and counting. My personal journey with this pandemic has been an intense roller coaster full of realizations, challenges and most importantly, change. While COVID-19 has been extremely unprecedented for everyone, as a freshman in college, I got to experience this pandemic during most of my high school senior year, which was supposed to be one of the most “unforgettable” summers of my life. 

As of today, I still find it difficult to openly talk about my experience while having some of my most memorable moments in life taken away from me. However, I know that by sharing my experience, I’m actively contributing to having these tough conversations about our mental health, our aspirations and desires as students. 

I went to a private, Catholic all-girls college preparatory high school in El Paso, Texas. During my time there, I was learning so much academically and emotionally that I was starting to see life with a more mature outlook with each passing day. I found myself making life-long friendships and reconnecting with old friends too. My social life was at a peak, and I was applying to a very wide range of universities while deciding I wanted to major in International Relations and Political Science. Life was starting to make sense to me.

March 14, 2020 was the last day of school before my very much desired spring break. I rushed through the halls of my school, eager to get to my car and leave to have lunch with my friends and talk about our plans for the break. I got to my big blue locker, grabbed the textbooks I needed, packed the rest of my stuff and hurried out.. Two weeks later, I’m going through my emails while having my morning coffee with my mother when I get the notification that I was not going back to school for the rest of the year. At that very moment, everything just stopped. 

I was really depressed for the following weeks. My friends and I kept talking about our feelings, because as grieving teenagers, we did not know what else to do with so many emotions. I just simply could not believe that I was not going to graduate in the way I had always wanted, and my plans for the future were thrown into question.. It was truly painful that  I could not remember my last day in school because I rushed out as fast as I could. I did not appreciate my last time there because I simply did not think it was going to be the last one. 

While I did have a very odd graduation ceremony, it was just not what I wanted. But that is what I have learned from this pandemic so far. Life is not what you want nor when you want it. It has been a tough pill to swallow, but I know that this will make me appreciate every single moment in my life just as if I was to quarantine indefinitely the next day.