Initially, when the COVID-19 virus first appeared and began spreading across the United States, many places started shutting down, people started freaking out, and even health experts were confused as to what the correct action should be.
In mid-march, county health departments in state after state began mandating that its residents shelter in place. Recreational businesses started closing down, schools went online, and usually crowded cities were spiritless. People of different political beliefs and standpoints had very diverse opinions on the lockdown whether it was the effectiveness, strictness, or necessity. Younger individuals like me were frustrated that all social events, movie nights, and sporting events were suspended, especially when these events are what teenagers love. Once June came around, I was honestly burnt out. When I saw that some states had started reopening, I was infuriated that California took the more conservative route. Many times, I thought of defying the rules and going to large social gatherings to do what teenagers are supposed to do. However, my parents stopped me, and soon after, in July, California reopened.
Everything was going well: indoor dining, indoor gyms, and schools began to reopen, until November rolled around, and the Thanksgiving wave caused a massive spike in COVID cases. After I heard the news of a second lockdown, I was in despair. What seemed to be a glimpse of normality suddenly slipped away; once again, cities were lifeless. However, in this second lockdown, there were noticeable differences: more lives were lost, more businesses were closed, and unemployment levels were even higher than they previously were.
One day, I was walking around the Stanford shopping mall, and seeing all of the closed businesses led to me experience a sudden epiphany: I should not complain about staying at home, and instead should be grateful that my parents are still working.
In different ways, the pandemic has affected every individual in society, but I cannot imagine what it would be like for families that have either lost their business, job, or a family member. Or what it would be like to live in a COVID plagued country where food and water is not readily available, hospitals are not available, and human rights do not exist. As bad as it may be for me, I cannot imagine losing everything that you have worked so hard for suddenly disappearing. Being able to live in a stable household and go to online school are things that some people can only wish for; I learned not to look at the negative aspects.
The lockdown has also taught me to become grateful for going out for dinners, movie theaters, concerts, and sporting events. Before the pandemic, it was typical for my friends and I to go out, and I never acknowledged how privileged we were to experience the good things in our lives. Even when we complained about going to school everyday, we failed to realize that we would eventually miss the interactions with each other and the resources in our schools. If anything, this lockdown has forced me to reset my life, and to be more excited than ever to come back stronger, happier, and more grateful.
Submitted by Yubin Zhang, Santa Clara County – Palo Alto.