Reporter Newspapers asked local students to respond to the following prompt: “Take a moment to reflect on how the pandemic has challenged you, what skills you relied on or developed to cope, and how you might use this experience to improve your future.”

Meghna Singha, Pace Academy, Class of 2022

I say with much gratitude that my experience throughout the pandemic has been incredibly privileged and fortunate. I was able to attend school in person, my parents were able to maintain financial stability and I had easy access to testing and vaccination sites. However, rather than facing physical or economic struggles, I faced mental ones.

To be frank, I get bored easily. Between school, sports, other extracurriculars and social life, my weeks tend to be jam-packed all seven days, 364 days of the year (the one exception being the day after Thanksgiving when I am too full to even move). It was just full-speed ahead for most of the year and whenever I tried to slow down, I would find myself at a standstill, unable to pick up speed again.
And then the entire world came to a literal screeching halt and my entire life was put on hold. Instead of always being out of the house or always being with friends, my life was reduced to the 90-foot perimeter of my bedroom and the pixelated versions of loved ones. At first, it was challenging to find ways to keep myself from just scrolling through Tiktok for hours on end. However, as the weeks become months, I discovered more and more interesting ways to keep myself occupied. Soon, these hobbies, such as painting, developed into passions. 

The pandemic isolated me and pumped the brakes on my life: two things I always feared, but by slowing down, I learned the art of reflection. The last year has given me the opportunity to take a breath and actually take a hard look at my life, allowing me to prioritize the things that matter. As I finish up high school and move into the next chapter of my life, I know myself and my values better than ever before. By knowing myself, I can actually be myself which is the most important skill I could have ever learned.

Amy Wenk was editor of Reporter Newspapers in 2021-22.