Like most teenagers, I believed this virus was a myth—a tale as old as time that’s been passed through generations, taking on a new form as every storyteller was affected differently, a myth that originated from a faraway land that can only scare you if you let it. This story has become the new reality. Every time I heard a story surrounding the aftermath of this virus—grief, pain, and isolation—I realized that it had the potential to flip my world upside down.
Religion is a very big part of my identity. I’m very proud to be a Muslim. Growing up, my mom, my siblings, and I would go to the mosque every weekend to pray and learn the Quran. I’ve met a lot of great people through my faith that played a huge role in shaping who I am today. During this pandemic, I haven’t gone to the mosque, which made me feel as if I was missing a part of myself. I’ve been trying to make up for it in different aspects of my life. I’ve been listening to recitations of the Quran more, doing more research on different concepts in Islam, watching Islamic videos, going to youth group meetings, and so much more. I do believe that this pandemic has led me to do more internal reflection on my choices and my character than I probably would’ve done before.
My family has also been a lifeline for me. My parents continue to inspire me with their resilience and strength as they get up every day and go to work to give us a chance at a better future. I have people at risk for the virus in my family, which means I’ve been isolated this entire time. It’s been hard, but they make everything worth it. I’m able to laugh and play with my baby niece, which allows me to forget about what’s happening around me. I’ve been able to joke and play with my siblings, which helps raise our spirits. My parents have been extremely supportive. I’ve also gotten closer to people that I might’ve not been as close to otherwise.
Continuing my education, even if it’s online, has been very helpful because it has served as an outlet for my creativity and curiosity. I’ve really enjoyed all my classes, as they’re all thought-provoking and satiate my curiosity in different areas of life. I remember the feeling of driving back to TJ for the PSAT/NMSQT. I felt nostalgic and remembered all the memories I had made in my first two years. The walk to the bathroom was one executed from memory. I felt the absence of my fellow classmates as the cold fall air silently drifted through the hallways. The ice-cold water was welcomed with an embrace from that of an old friend. Walking back, my eye lingers on the brown lockers, wondering which one would’ve been mine. The feeling of superiority that comes with being a junior is foreign as the year seems to go by fast. I can only identify with the stress and hours of studying. However, I try to implement a self-care routine in my day consisting of hot chocolate, a movie, or journaling. I’ve been doing more of the things I love like painting, reading, and playing tennis. It was hard at the beginning but this pandemic has reaffirmed the importance of faith, family, friends, and mental health for me.
That’s my story. A reality that differs from others but is united under a common theme: strength and resilience. I’ve learned to keep those whom I love close, as anything can happen. I’ve learned to appreciate everything in life and find content in the things I have. My advice to anyone out there reading this who feels unmotivated or uncertain about the future is to take it one day at a time. Cheesy? Yes, but it can be really life-changing.