Growth and Change: My Pandemic Experience
By Brandon Rush
As winter turned into spring, just as every year, I always get caught off guard by this sweeping feeling of release. After a long, dark fall and winter, Spring carries with it a new beginning. Well, little did I know that 2020 was not just another year. Very quickly, things started happening. Headlines grew worse every day, statistics started to rise, people started to panic. And then next thing I knew, senior year was in limbo. You don’t ever thing about what you have until you’re threatened with losing it. The start of this pandemic was one of the weirdest mental and emotional states I’ve ever experienced.
Quarantine then became a word that I, and many others, used on an almost daily basis. The days dragged on, weeks felt like months at times, and months just didn’t seem to end. A few big things happened during my quarantine experience. First, without anything to do and no direction, substances began to take a big role in my daily life. My mindset at the time was something of , “There’s nothing better to do” mixed with “I really just don’t care”. It was an incredibly unhealthy time. My relationship suffered, my schoolwork suffered, and my physical health started to really suffer. Writing this now I feel guilty for myself admitting this, but in the entire month of April, I don’t think I was sober for a full day. It’s a terrible feeling knowing that you’re ruining yourself but not having any motivation to stop it. Thankfully, that storm passed. Secondly, my family started to become more distant. I remember my father saying at dinner, “Who knows? Maybe this will be a good tie fo the family to get closer again.” Well, quite the opposite happened. It makes perfect sense though, if you break it down. To have a family of five with nowhere to go, nobody to see and no motivation to expand their horizons, due in no small part to fear, what did we think would happen? Last, and most importantly to my growth, my relationship came to a toxic end. I truly believe everything over these months happened for a reason and I am so grateful that I can be on the outside looking in at all these memories.
Summer was vital. Even though quarantine wasn’t over, things felt somewhat normal. I got my first tattoo. I started hanging out with a group of maybe ten friends regularly and none of us went outside that, and everything around me just felt so much lighter. I started to feel like myself again in all honesty. A better, more experienced version of myself. I came to the realization that having a support staff that will be there to hug you when you feel like waving the white flag is one of the most important things a human can have. I’m extremely grateful for that support staff. They’re the only reason I am where I am today.
Which brings me to today, writing this diary for fellow students to learn something from, or at the very least, read a quick story about my experiences. Substances aren’t an issue anymore, I prioritize myself more than ever before, even pre-pandemic, and I feel like a fuller human being. I’m in my first semester of college, and I’m taking it seriously for a change. If I were to ask myself from February of 2020 if I was going to college, I know for a fact that the answer would have been a quick no. If quarantine taught me anything, it would be to just enjoy where you are right now. Even if things are looking rough or you feel you’re at your worst, the reality is that the roller coaster will go back up. All these experiences made me a better person in the end, and that’s really all any of us can do: Grow and Change.