COLUMN: I’ve outgrown my surroundings, but I can’t move

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Nadia Hernandez

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, people’s homes have transformed to become both the office and the classroom.

Every 18-year-old anticipates the transition from high school to college, as it symbolizes becoming independent and discovering yourself. It’s paired with being in a new environment filled with new experiences. What better way to grow out of the shell of childhood and into adulthood with this change?

Unfortunately for the high school Class of 2020, the pandemic has deprived us of this passage to a new chapter. We remain in our homes, surrounded by everything that reminds of our past life. I pass by my high school often. I pass by all the places I would hang out with my friends. I remember these were the places where we would talk about the future. Who knew I’d be in the same spot after all this time?

It hardly feels as if I ever graduated. I’m still in my workroom with the same computer and surroundings. The only difference is which Zoom link I press. The lines between college and high school blur because I have nothing to distinguish the two. 

Although college has major differences, I can’t help but feel like it’s the same as when I did online high school. If anything, I’m more isolated from my school community. I can only “see” the people on my screen when I’m in class. Zoom only allows limited interaction, so it’s hard to feel like we’re a part of the community when we never see the full scope of it. 

It drains us of our spirit and enthusiasm to stay in these “in between” spaces. There really isn’t a whole lot of excitement for education when trapped behind a computer screen. It’s hard to grasp being in the college mindset when you get one-tenth of the experience. 

I think about what could’ve been all the time. I wish I could be in the dorms with my roommate, explore the streets of Chicago and figure out myself. It’s kind of hard to discover yourself if you stay in the same place all along. 

I’m stuck. I’m stuck in the same place I’ve outgrown. I try to wiggle out and as much as I can but without risking myself and others, there’s not a lot of room to do so.

Losing this experience is worth knowing I am keeping people safe. I’ve seen how being irresponsible about guidelines will risk lives. I don’t think we are at the point to return to normalcy right now.

However, this doesn’t mean I’ve lost my chance. I’m waiting for the moment I step foot on campus for the first time. I know that although it will be unfamiliar and scary, it will be worth waiting. 

I’m stuck here, but my mind is looking forward to the future.