2 years of COVID-19 takes toll on HS grad


Dan Elson

Jayden Flood says his first year of college isn’t going as expected.

Jayden Flood, Reporter

I’m a first-year student at AACC, and this semester has been a lot for me already.

Not only is it my first-ever semester as a college student, it’s the first time in two years that my classes aren’t totally online.

I think this is sort of abnormal for first-year college students. Normally, we would be coming to college after being in a classroom with other high school students.

A lot of us first-year students are feeling like we’re walking through an episode of “Black Mirror.”

These uncertain feelings are valid to have, as this is one more odd event for us in a two-year string of odd events.

I’m learning how to socialize again in a setting that I haven’t been in for two years: in-person school. But in this social setting, everyone is wearing a mask, and every time someone coughs, anxiety spreads through everyone who hears it.

After two years, I’m finally able to expand my social group again. But the process is no longer a norm for me.

Being locked down in order to avoid any danger to my at-risk family members has meant I have not had the opportunity to see, or simply talk to, anyone I don’t already know except in a digital space.

There was no communication among students when I attended high school virtually. We didn’t do group projects or even work in the same room together. It was purely individual work.

I now have these opportunities again, and unfortunately, I’m so out of practice that I am unable to approach potential new relationships in the same way I used to. My social health has degraded throughout the pandemic.

Before, I had little issue introducing myself to others or being able to make small talk, but now it feels like a daunting task to perform.

Even though this has been a cruel, shared experience among us all, it’s hard to connect.

For one thing, simple social events are hard to come by these days.

But even more so, everything feels tinged with the ongoing horrors of the pandemic. It’s hard to find com[1]mon ground without grief.

When was the last time you have had a simple conversation that wasn’t about a war or the pandemic or any of the other intense events our society has grinded through over the past two years?

It’s alright to embrace the grief and the suffering that comes with living in this abnormal time. It’s alright to talk about it with our peers. Everyone, no matter the background, has lost some[1]thing or someone within the past two years. We shouldn’t be ashamed to acknowledge this.

A shared experience within a group or society is often an opportunity to bond with others—even strangers. Why waste this opportunity to greet our new and old classmates with open arms after two years?

It seems like we’re let[1]ting this shared, horrible grief get in the way of making friends. Instead of letting it pull us apart—or keep us apart—let’s use it to bring us together.

We shared the experience, even though we did it wearing masks and staying far away from each other. Now, let’s share it together.