I am a 17 year old girl living in the 21st century. I am a human being, a part of a civilization that has long moved on from the simplicity of face to face interactions and become accustomed to the complex machinations of a society that is constantly multitasking. Where I live, the role of a neighbor has become less and less the smiling person waving to us from next door and more so the lit-up phone screen that greets us every morning as we leave the comfort of our bed to tackle another busy day. Unarguably, the Internet is the greatest source of information for a teenager who has rarely traveled outside the city she has called home for the entirety of her existence on this planet. What a great time to be alive, when the wonders of the world lay at our fingertips. No longer do we have to spend thousands of dollars for a plane ticket to feast our eyes upon the wonders of mother Nature and her children. And yet, it has become seemingly clearer that all that is a gift can just as easily become a double edge sword if taken for granted. Take, for instance, the current social scene with the onslaught of Corvid-19 and the whirlwind of changes that have taken the city by storm. New York City, my long-time home, is currently one of the hardest hit places by the epidemic. The urban center has seen death rates disproportionately higher than the rest of the country. I am one of millions of seniors who have had their senior year abruptly cut off by the statewide closure of schools that began on March 19. Since then, I have been continuing classes online and haven't left the house for more than a month. However, it is amidst this atmosphere of apprehension that I am grateful to be in the situation I am now. I have a house to live in and food to eat everyday. I have friends and adults who care about me. I have a father who strives to provide for me, despite his imperfections and the burdens weighing down his aging shoulders. If my life were to be organized into a chart, there would be three columns that would go as follows: “Things that are going smoothly as usual,” “Things that aren't going well,” and “Things that still manage to warm my heart.” Let's say I made two of these charts, one for my pre-epidemic days and one for my current state. A comparison of both charts would yield the conclusion that ever since the coronavirus has made its way here, the amount of things that can be placed in the first column has decreased and consequently, the number of things that can be placed in the second column has increased. However, the greatest and most telling observation is that the number of things in the last column has soared. Logically speaking, that should not be so, when the virus has in no means contributed to the joys of life or the resources we have at our disposal. I think the answer to the unspoken question lies in the intrinsic nature of human character — More specifically, in the ability to interpret our circumstances in such a way that brings us closer to reality of the world beyond our eyes. Many of us have probably heard the ICU horror stories by now. It was only a few weeks ago that news was spreading about hospitals being overwhelmed with patients, some struggling to breathe. I saw videos of nurses breaking down in tears after their shift as they share their horrific experiences at work. I cannot fathom how it must feel to look death in the eye and still have the strength to return to the battlefield everyday. I remember reading a comment online referring to the patients who spent their last moments in the emergency room all alone, without the chance to see their loved ones. Thinking about something like that happening almost made me cry. Truth to be told, my life has been comfortable during this raging epidemic. Besides being confined to my house, I have a relatively carefree day-to-day routine. My family's financial status has taken a blow for sure, but luckily we are still able to afford daily necessities and buy groceries every week. Personally, I have never had so much free time in my life. It is with guilt that I admit, I did rejoice in the newfound freedom of sleeping in and spending hours in bed with my phone. After a few weeks of quarantine, I noticed most of my days were consumed by lack of productivity on my part. With few restraints on my daily routine, I was losing focus on my goals. As final exams loomed around the corner, I was finding it much harder than usual to discipline myself to study. Recently I have been getting back into the mindset of hustling and getting work done. I was ashamed to admit that I was treating quarantine more like a break than a crucial period of time in my personal growth. Although I kept myself informed with news on the current state of affairs, it remained in my head as facts and statistics. I was not oblivious to reality but perhaps I had unconsciously placed myself in a bubble away from the bigger world I was not a first hand witness of.
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