My whole life, I always envisioned my graduating year and exactly how it would go: Friday night lights spent marching in the band on the football field, bus rides home from basketball games, eating hotdogs after throwing at track meets, my final prom, performing in my senior year musical and play, and ending it all in front of all of my friends and family on graduation day.
When more than half of that was taken away from me by a virus that began in China that my classmates had been joking about for weeks, I didn't think that life could get much worse. Looking back at it six months into living in a global pandemic and seeing its impact on the world, I see my life in a light I never would have had this not happened.
When I first found out through a few freshman girls screaming with joy that Governor Mike DeWine had decided to close schools for an "extended spring break" due to the pandemic starting to become more prominent in the United States, I honestly wasn't that upset.
My senior play was rescheduled, my track season was postponed, and graduation was far enough away that it wasn't impacted by this announcement. I was ready to have a month off of in-person school to spend time with friends, catch up on my favorite T.V. shows, and get some extra rest. For the first weekend, that really was what I did. In lieu of my spring fling that got canceled, my friends and I dressed up, ate dinner at a local pizza shop, and had a sleepover at my house.
Obviously, the extra time to spend with my friends in our final days before we graduate didn't last very long. When the stay-at-home order was issued in Ohio, I was a little disappointed but felt good knowing we would be out of quarantine in plenty of time for me to attend my last few weeks of high school and have my final moment as a student at Wooster High School at my graduation ceremony.
However, as time went on and the school closing and stay-at-home order got extended, my dreams of my senior year experiences and my final goodbye began to crash, as did my typical optimistic, bubbly personality.
Being trapped in my house all day everyday left me feeling lonely, unmotivated, and bored out of my mind. Watching Grey's Anatomy in its entirety for the second time didn't last forever, and I was quickly beginning to despise my biweekly zoom call with my friends, sick of only being able to see them and hear their voices through my computer and phone screen.
As I said before, at that point in my life, I genuinely believed that this was the absolute worst thing that has ever impacted my life and that those lost experiences and times would always leave me with a hole in my heart. Although I highly supported fighting this virus and knew we were doing the right thing to help stop this pandemic from making people sick, I despised having to feel robbed of my 18th year of life.
When the stay-at-home order finally ended in May and Governor DeWine began to reopen Ohio, to say I was ecstatic was an understatement.
Even with it being socially distanced and way different from what I was used to, I was so happy to see my friends and family again and do something as simple as going into a store and driving my car. My mood began to improve, I started to become more active again, and overall, seeing my small town more lively brought me a sense of joy and relief I hadn't felt since March.
Although I had lost a lot throughout those months and missed out on things I'd always dreamed of, I learned a lot about myself and life in general.
After not being able to see anyone with the exception of my parents and sister face-to-face for so long, I definitely realized how much I depend on seeing my friends and extended family on a daily basis. I learned to appreciate the time spent together, even if it isn't always doing the most exciting thing in the world; for example, my friends and I have started a tradition of going on a hike every Saturday simply to enjoy the fresh air and our time spent together.
I also learned how much I actually love school and how lucky I am to have been able to attend high school five days a week and now go to college here at Miami. Although all of these things impacted my life, arguably the most influential lesson I learned is that we aren't promised tomorrow. As much as I wish it could last forever, life is a finite thing and it is definitely important to cherish the little things, whether it's Friday night dinner with grandparents and cousins (a personal tradition of mine), or going to a drive-in movie with friends.
After all, even the smallest things can hold the best memories.