After the Rain Comes the Sun

I always thought of myself as being an open-minded person. Don't we all like to believe we were blessed or simply brought up with good values, which therefore established ourselves as virtuous people? It's the way humans are. But following whose rules is my supposedly open mindedness considered to be open? Mine? As a child, my report cards' soaring numbers, which lit up my parents' eyes and, let's be honest, mine too, every end of semester, were never obtained with much effort. I guess it made me think easiness in academics was a commonly shared characteristic; this simpleminded assumption is unfortunately overshadowed by an even more shameful presumption: that bad grades necessarily meant an unwillingness to work. I believe almost anyone can remember how and when they found out about the existence of COVID-19. My moment was on my way to school: I was riding the subway and reading the newspaper I had picked up just before entering the train. It was quite a small article, with a title resembling something like “An unknown virus' apparition in China”. Looking back, I am still stunned at how the subject taking up less than a page's space in the newspaper quickly became the star of its front page, second page and so on, until keeping close to half of its contents to itself. It all happened so quickly! One-digit numbers of cases became two-digits numbers, followed by the beginning of international cases, leading to the first case in Canada, where I live. Events of this kind finally ushered the world to shut down, countries by countries. How does that relate to my story? Millions of students including me had to deal with the dramatic cutdown of genuine social interaction while navigating through the perturbed waters all adults had had to someday overcome. The real difficulty for many was online schooling: filling our heads with knowledge that was sometimes staggeringly tedious, passed on from a screen that often stayed too still at times to my taste, and normality's. I saw myself become, from a student who used to nail almost every test without studying much, one who found it hard to even understand the content teachers were diffusing. I was a witness to my own fall. After handing over the last exam of that school year, I still remember the odd feeling I had. I was of course happy that at last, summer vacation had come, but... I wasn't able to walk into it with the same sentiment of gratification I had had the precedent years. I now realize it was because I wasn't truly satisfied and proud of myself: knowing I wouldn't get great scores on the exams made me feel disappointed, like I wasted months of my life. This past year, my province has let students of my age physically attend school half of the time, and learn by distant education the other half. I was thus liberated from some of the pressure I was under the year before, but I was still affected by its consequences. Participation, concentration, motivation, even finding topics of conversations with my friends had not only become harder, but problems I daily faced. Although I don't look at these consequences as wounds, I still can say that for my case, time served as healer. It took me months to be able to get back on track, but I did it! It did come at a greater cost, though, but late nights of studying do always bear fruits at the end. Today, I can for sure say that this experience taught me to be more open-minded. I cannot say that I truly understand all matters and circumstances of everyone's lives, but I do know now that grades are not only defined by one's work ethic. Numerous factors can come into play. For instance, parents' fights are greatly able to disturb both one's ability to focus and one's mental health; a family's financial situation can also be an unfavorable influence. This past school year and a half challenged me in a way that, oddly, benefitted me. I doubt I would have changed my work attitude if these difficulties had not happened to me, at least not until the inevitable moment when I would have to hit a wall, just like everyone does someday. To me, it was a reminder to not loosen up too much; a warning that life wasn't like I pictured it.

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