December: The news breaks out for the first time.
January: People start to take notice.
February: Fear and panic overtake the streets (and grocery stores, supermarkets, pharmacies).
March: The world comes to a grinding halt, and everything goes cold. A virus has brought humanity to its knees. We are not prepared.
Mid-March: I think about the milestones I’m missing. Senior year. Prom. Parties. Graduation. Chilling with my friends. Meeting up with other college-bound strangers I clicked with over the internet. Saying goodbye to my teachers, my classmates, and my grandparents who live two cities away. Asking them for their blessing as I head off to another country for college. I’ll be studying economics, I’d say. Maybe minor in computer science, creative writing, or sociology? I’m not sure yet, but it’s okay. There’s a whole world for me to explore. Wish me luck!
April: I wake up and relive the same day over and over. I lift the screen of my computer and surf the internet, a chamber of bad news after bad news after bad news. I’m not sure what is real anymore. Headlines contradict each other; social media is a bloodbath. Colleges are going online this fall. World leaders move to tighten quarantine procedures. Here are five simple ways to open your own home bakery and have a little fun with your free time! My phone dings with a notification: we are considering deferring enrollment until spring in response to the crisis. Not fun.
It is easy to feel upset. Easier to feel annoyed about rules and lockdowns and being thrust into an uncertain future blind.
It is hard to realize how privileged most of us are to have boredom as our number one enemy.
Now: I wake up. Sometimes, I try out new breakfast recipes. On better days, I choose to do something more challenging, like making bread. It’s tiring, but I enjoy the burn in my arms as I wrestle with the dough across the counter. I dive back into the habit of writing stories, a hobby I was forced to let go of when the junior year hit and left me perpetually exhausted. I find movies for me and my siblings to watch together, video call my grandparents, learn the basics of programming. A new routine; unfamiliar, but welcome nonetheless.
I no longer think about lost milestones and missed opportunities. These little things may not be as exciting as prom or a high school party, but they can be new milestones. Proof that I was here, that I did not fade away with the blur of days and weeks and – oh, another month? Maybe the bread will be edible this time.
There is always a silver lining. There is always something new to explore.
The world may have come to a standstill, but we must keep marching on.