Control – Maya Kim
The past 14 months have consisted of five stages of grief. First came denial. There is no way we can return to school with the rise of COVID-19 cases recently. Returning to in-person learning in November felt illogical. Then came anger. KSD didn’t even ask the students or teachers about what they wanted. We had no opportunity to provide feedback on this fast decision. Next up, bargaining. In-person learning will only last for a few weeks, so I guess it’s fine. Almost everyone expected it to only last a week or two. Moving onto depression. It is so difficult to learn from a teacher teaching an in-person and virtual class. I was not enjoying this new situation. And finally, acceptance. I don’t think I’m going to go to school in-person at all this year.
I didn’t go through these stages just once. I go through them everyday. The hardest one is acceptance. When I would be able to return to in-person learning was a difficult question to answer. Before the school year started, I believed I would return to KHS at the start of second semester. But as second semester neared and COVID-19 cases steadily rose, I came to the realization that I was likely not going to return to KHS for the entirety of my junior year.
I don’t think I’m going to go to school in-person at all this year.”
— Maya Kim
I visit with a counselor once every two weeks. Our meetings typically consist of me unloading all of my stressors, my worries for an upcoming ACT test and the most bothersome of them all, other people being ignorant. Why can’t people just wear a mask, it really isn’t difficult? Why do we have to face the consequences of other people’s actions? My counselor never has answers to my questions, but she always provides tools to help me cope with these thoughts. Every time I complained about the pandemic, she would offer me this: “You can’t control anything but yourself.”
It’s true, everyone can only control themselves. When she first said this to me, I realized that I had a difficult time controlling my own life. Virtual learning made my days feel like temporal anomalies, the weekends felt like half an hour, I rarely left my bedroom. While in reality I am the only one who has complete control over my life, I have felt as if the pandemic had taken control of me. I was convinced I no longer had control over anything, but in reality I just didn’t know how to use my control.
I was so consumed with trying to take control over issues I couldn’t possibly reach, that I wasn’t focused on what I could reach.”
— Maya Kim
Acceptance has been the most difficult part of this pandemic. Accepting that I won’t return to KHS for the remainder of my junior year was brutal. Accepting that I couldn’t just pray people would begin to follow COVID-19 safety measures was infuriating beyond belief. Accepting that I am in control of my own life, especially this year, was the hardest. I accepted that I couldn’t change any of the circumstances for this year. I accepted that I can’t just ask God to make people wear masks. But I couldn’t find a way to accept that I could change my daily routines for this year, or try to find a way to differentiate school from home. I was so consumed with trying to take control over issues I couldn’t possibly reach, that I wasn’t focused on what I could reach.
Over the past few months I have changed a lot about my pandemic “lifestyle.” I designate Friday as movie nights so I at least get something to look forward to early in the week. I try my best to hang out with friends (outside and with masks) to get social interactions. I try to see what I can control rather than what I can’t.
The past 14 months have been filled with accepting the unyielding problems the pandemic placed in my life, and learning how to use my control in a realistic and beneficial way. Sure, I’ve had moments filled with tears and passionate anger, I think we all have, but I’ve found ways to bring it back and ground myself. COVID-19 has given me another annual shot (I really hate needles) but also a new sense of authority. As the pandemic begins to taper off (hopefully) and the world becomes safer, all I can hope is that everyone can find a way to maintain control.