The Epic Pandemic – A Teenage Story

By Sereena Kumar

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Staying home for two whole years and suddenly coming out from hibernation has been a big change for me. Before the pandemic, I was a happy go lucky 13-year-old. I felt like I was getting settled into my middle school and felt comfortable. On March 13, 2020, my whole world froze. Thus began the pandemic and virtual school. Life went by in a zoom- literally. Here I am now, navigating the waters of my first year of high school.

It is a big leap from virtual middle school. Socializing on a screen in online school was hard when everyone was muted, and when everyone’s cameras were off. Now, it is even harder. According to my friend, “The pandemic has affected how we interact with each other. It caused us to be isolated in our friend groups.”

Suddenly being in front of people made me conscientious of my actions. There is no screen dividing me from my peers, and I don’t have the option to turn their camera off with a simple click of a mouse. The only thing that is concealing my social awkwardness, is my mask. My friend said that “I’ve been kinda socially awkward and taking off my mask makes me nervous.”

Many high schoolers feel as if the mask conceals their flaws, as superheroes wear masks to conceal their identity. I have learned from the pandemic that we are not superheroes. We are not perfect, we make mistakes.

We all want to escape our reality and pretend that we don’t have problems. I have noticed that my friends have stopped telling me about their troubles when I can see that they are sleep deprived and unhappy. A lot of them have mentioned that they don’t bother to tell their parents what is on their minds. We have forgotten that we are important and allowed to speak our minds. Perhaps being away from people has made us more independent, or the transition from middle school to high school has made us think that we need to be independent.

It’s every person for themself in the wild jungles of high school. That cannot last forever because we need people to support us. And every person needs to know that we are willing to support them; not abandon them in the jungle. If anything, the pandemic has taught me that I need to ask my friends how they are doing every minute.

In a way, I feel more emotionally connected to my friends. We understand each other because the pandemic is something that we have all been through. We know what it’s like to feel at the bottom of a pit with no means of getting out. We are each other’s ladders, helping one another climb out of the dark times and into the sunlight.

I hug my friends tighter every day because I now know what it felt like to lose them, and that I never want to lose them again. My friend said, “I never realized how much I depended on my peers, family, and teachers until the pandemic took them away from me.”

The pandemic has also allowed me to figure out a little bit about myself. I have learned what things make me anxious and I am learning how to cope with them, along the way. I have discovered new talents; I learned how to play the ukulele, bake cookies, and draw realistic people. Boredom drove me to creativity and new interests. My classmates agreed with me and almost collectively said, “I’ve definitely gotten more time to focus on myself and my hobbies.”

The pandemic has caused me to lose some of my social skills and the ability to freely express my opinions. My friends and I have difficulty voicing our troubles and instead have resorted to staying quiet to not be a burden to others.

In a different light, we have learned to show that we truly care for our friends and not to take them for granted. Our foundation for trust is stronger because we know that our situation for the past two years has been somewhat similar. As well as exploring friendships, I have explored my capabilities and learned that I can do so much more than I imagined. I hope that every 9th grader in my shoes has found out from the pandemic that they are resilient, creative, and ready to face the jungle that we call high school.


Sereena Kumar is a freshman at Enloe High School and has a passion for writing. slkumar@mycomedical.com