Life Has Changed So Much Since March 2020


Dankwa Nnoma-Addison, Staff Writer

Life has changed so much since March 2020. As a student I have always followed a tight schedule, but when lockdown worsened I had the opportunity to slow down, reflect and focus on improving myself a lot more. Over the past year I have made several discoveries and confronted hard truths about my personality that have affected my academic standing, and physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

When it was announced in mid-March 2020 that in-person classes would be cancelled indefinitely and we would attend virtual classes, I didn’t fully grasp what that meant. I almost left my lacrosse gear at school because I planned to come back on Monday, underestimating the severity of the situation. In the following weeks I continued to be disillusioned with fantasies of what quarantine and online schooling would be like. I attended classes with genuine excitement and anticipation, like an adventure, and looked forward to doing something new. That feeling wore off in a matter of weeks, as the academic year dragged on and my virtual experience became harder. 

As the repetitiveness of virtual school set in during my junior year, I felt my motivation decrease and found it harder to stay focused and complete my work. I would end school feeling drained and depleted of all my energy, because we were still attending classes until 3:40. I started spending the time between the end of the school day and the evening going on social media and watching YouTube in the same position I had already been in for 8 hours that day. I failed to get up, stretch, take breaks, or most beneficially, take naps. I should have used all those times to sleep; I would generally have been better rested and had more energy to complete my work in a timely manner instead of rushing to get work in at the last minute.

I ended junior year in strong academic standing. I pulled through in my hardest classes despite the virtual barrier between me and my teachers that prevented me from getting in-person help, and felt good about my performance. My report card came later at the end of the year to confirm how well I did. During summer break I was tentatively anticipating Sandy Spring’s decision about the state of our current academic year, and upon receiving the news that it would be fully virtual until January, I felt discouragement and hopelessness set in. I was not worried as much about the activities and experiences I would miss out on as a senior and student, but about the lack of physical and social interaction with my peers.

I have tried my best to apply myself this year, but it has been extremely difficult to keep myself motivated to continue and keep up with school. This year I have had several moments of crisis where I acted out of frustration and expressed resentment towards subjects I proclaimed would never help me in the adult world. It was hard to pay attention at my desk during virtual classes; I frequently lost focus and fidgeted. Doing homework became demoralizing, like a never-ending chore. I got angry at school for merely existing while I was battling mental and emotional struggles. I have questioned my identity several times, wondering who I really am and what my purpose in life is.  It got to the point where I would be physically unable to work at times, look at the list of missing assignments in my Google Classroom to-do list only getting longer day by day, and procrastinate even more . As a result of this behavior more of my work became late, and I would submit things at the last minute. I frequently identified my mood as laziness, but I felt like there was something more than that, something bothering me that controlled my actions and mood.

The most impactful experience I have dealt with in the past year as a result of virtual school is the mental and emotional struggles. I have felt alone and isolated from the rest of the world for the past year, and my ability to seek help and call out to people only extended to my friends and parents, who I was already living with. Even when I would talk to those around me on bad days I would still feel a weight on my shoulders, see an obstacle I needed to cross, and feel weak once again. I talked to several students over the past year who also feel this way and resonate with my words. The stress of learning alone has gotten to me and so many other students.

As I dealt with these numerous struggles, I found several tips to improve my grades and mental health. Academically, I started writing a schedule for my weekly assignments and my day-to-day homework to keep myself organized, and scheduled weekly meetings with my teachers in classes where I was struggling. Mentally, I made sure to rest more and take more naps after school, and go outside and exercise for a change of scenery. Personally, being open with family members and close friends about how I’m doing always makes me feel better because I have someone to express my challenges to and ask for advice from.

As I have talked to more students and teachers about school experiences during the pandemic, I have heard lots of similar sentiment about how challenging and frustrating it is to continue learning. However, I find comfort in knowing that I am not alone in my struggles, and I hope my self assessment resonates with and inspires others to keep trying their hardest.