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Between Minus and Plus Infinity, The voices of the young - Happiness in little things

I recently had to tell a university something good and bad that came out of the pandemic. I found it extremely easy to begin listing negative things that have affected my life, some of which still do to this day. The number of things I can be cynical about could fill up pages of me complaining about petty problems to the loss of family. I found it difficult to find something good that happened to me during the last year of my life. But, as I spent time considering it, I realized the good far outweighed the bad for me. And I do not say that because I lost nothing significant; my life was turned for the worse for a long period. My physical, mental, and spiritual health declined worse than it had in years during the first half of 2020 and did not improve until near the end of the year. I still say I gained something more important because of how much I lost.

First, what I think was my largest loss: the opportunity to be normal. The complete switch of lifestyle for me and most other people meant that life, as usual, was simply not possible. I was a grade 11 student at the time and enjoying my second last year of high school. Most of the people I know maintained a good balance of school and social lives while being able to spend off moments with family and friends. It wasn’t just school trips or sports teams or working a job that was interrupted; the little things stopped. Seeing people for a long time was not possible. No friend gatherings, no parties, no living a life of your own. You begin to miss things you disliked before, like shopping trips to grocery stores, or being in a classroom. Of course, any normal person understands why it was important. But every generation lost something different, and for mine, we lost the chance to live out what is so often drilled into us as ‘our best years,’ or something we will miss when it’s gone. Most people had to change their lifestyle, but not everyone had to give up their final moments of childhood. In some way, my generation and I were asked to become adults far sooner than usual. Take on the responsibility and burden we shouldn’t have. Understanding it’s the right thing to do is one thing, accepting that is another. I struggled with accepting my new life for the majority of eight months after the first lockdown.

Then, I still haven’t mentioned what good came out of this. And I too had a hard time seeing the good in all the horror surrounding me. But, I can say with confidence that as of now, I am happier than I was before lockdown began. To live in a dark time puts the light in perspective. It seems to shine just a little brighter in the pitch black. And, really, I was not a person who accepted things easily. I fought changes in plans with my life. However, left with no choice but to stay inside and wait, I had two options: fight the acceptance and grieve forever, or just let it be. The good thing is, I managed to find peace in all the bad moments. Small, everyday problems became something of joy. I was lucky to have to worry about a mask because that meant I could go outside at all. Lines at grocery stores that normally inconvenienced me now meant they were open in the first place. Worrying about the safety of my family meant they were still with me. Lots of small things that if I could just look at differently, changed their entire meaning. So, I guess all the bad really did create the tools for good. If you ask me now, I will never say I would like to repeat the lockdown if given the chance. But, if I am around to say I didn’t like it, that still means I made it through. And that’s kind of what counts to me. -

William M., student, grade 12, Burlington. Ontario

William M., student, grade 12, Burlington    3/21/2021


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