Article and Photography by Paige Clark | Owl Staff

The COVID-19 pandemic has not been easy. In the beginning it was fine; there was no mask mandate, I got a break from school, and I thought that a few weeks of keeping our distance was going to do the trick.

Until the realization hit that this was a far more serious matter than originally anticipated.

Hand sanitizer: sold out. Toilet paper: sold out. Masks: sold out. I was nowhere near ready for the absolute madness that COVID-19 and all its protocols were going to bring to my daily life.

I never thought that I would be forced to learn in a way that was not efficient for myself. As someone who thrives in a classroom, I felt my entire world fall apart when it was announced that we would not be returning to school last spring. Then again in the fall, then winter, and now I have managed to get a hybrid class that keeps getting snowed out.

No senior softball season. No prom. No graduation. No freshman year of college. No parties. Nothing.

I had to completely change my way of life. I could no longer rely on staying busy in order to keep myself sane: it was time for growth.

Growing up as a hands-on learner, going virtual felt like a punishment, especially because I already was not great at paying attention to due dates and my schoolwork. I went into my freshman year of college depressed, unable to concentrate, with no motivation, and with my third semester of academic probation looming over my every thought.

But somehow, even amongst a pandemic, I found myself when I went to college. I began making friends on the softball team: which was always a dream that I never thought would come true.

“No senior softball season. No prom. No graduation. No freshman year of college. No parties. Nothing.”

And it was hard to go to practice and see my friends and yet not be able to celebrate my birthday with friends; having parts of my life resemble normalcy and others still be lived in solitude.

However, I found better study habits that took me from academic probation to being on the presidents list for the fall. I started to take my small business seriously. Yet most importantly, I found new and more ways to show people that I care about them.

There were so many days during all of this that I wanted to choose giving up. I wanted to drop out. I wanted to quit softball.

I wanted to move away from everyone I knew and start something completely new in my life. And I took all those feelings and let it push me to be better. I used it to motivate me through having 2 jobs, school, softball, and owning a business, and all those aspects of my life began to succeed more and more every day.

I never planned for my senior year of high school and freshman year of college to be how they were: but I am beyond thankful that they were because without this virus, I know I would not be where I am today.

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