My (Quaren)teenage Year(s)

“You need sunshine to appreciate the rain and rain to appreciate the sunshine.”
Antony Ray Hinton

As I walked into high school for the first time in the fall of 2018, I was geared up for what I expected to be a pretty standard 4 year long high school experience. One filled with fun parties, meeting new people, and lots of homework.
As my freshmen year came to a close, those expectations held true. It was one of the best years of my life, and I expected my sophomore year to exceed those expectations. But as the clock struck midnight on January 1st, 2020, the entire world began to change. With more news appearing about this mysterious virus, my father told me to remain calm and reassured me that everybody was overreacting. He held true to this belief until March 8th when my school shut down for what was only supposed to be 10 days. My friends and my initial reaction was pure excitement. But as those 10 days became a month, and that month became the rest of the year, that excitement about working from home quickly faded into this realization that things might not be okay for a while.
I would set my alarm for as late as possible each day with just enough time to quickly roll out of bed, walk maybe ten steps to my desk, open my computer, and log onto zoom. I would see the familiar faces of my classmates around me, but everything felt so different. The small talk I would have had with the person who sat at the desk next to me before the bell rang turned into awkward silence over zoom.
This has now been my life (well all of our lives) for over a year. I can say that it has been a huge learning experience for me, but has definitely come with its challenges. Even while being around my family constantly, I struggled with a constant feeling of loneliness. I was forced to cope with this feeling because it became my new normal. Correction: everybody’s new normal.
As the world is now beginning to hit rewind, and the sunshine is starting to reappear, I am just beginning to rediscover my groove in a normal way of life where I can see my friends, go to school everyday, and go to the grocery without layers of gloves and boxes of clorox wipes. I am viewing each interaction with a friend in a completely new light than I would have a year ago because I realize just how quickly everything around me can change. And although I never thought I would say this, it took returning to (a somewhat) normal life now for me to appreciate the entire pandemic. It provided me with time to learn so much about myself and ultimately provided me with insights on the person I wanted to be.
Although my high school experience has not been what my freshman year self imagined, it has still been some of the best three years of my life. I have grown more as a person than I ever could have imagined, and am only more excited to see what my last year of high school has in store for me.


-Riley, New York

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