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Sofia is a seventeen-year-old learning the ins and outs of this world. She loves reading, writing, and sweet potato fries. She wishes to learn Mandarin and Italian and someday become a polyglot. Her current future plans are to double major in Economics and Comparative Literature. She also wants to be a writer!
There is a little corridor one has to walk through before facing the four walls that encircle my room. Inside, there are three curtain less windows that do not let me sleep past eight. The tiles on my floor resemble wood, and the wall underneath my desk has black marks on it. My room became my bunker during the pandemic. Everything I needed to survive was in there. I did not have to leave if I did not want to. I could not leave if I wanted to. When school started, I made an effort to prepare my desk for the laborious work that Junior year harbored. I made a sign for my lamp that read "home desk" on one side and "school desk" on the other (something I had heard students should do from a "how to study video on youtube). I made a book stand for my computer and cut a string that would separate my bed from my desk (so I would not be tempted to cross over.) Then, the real struggle began. It was not that I lacked motivation for school. On the contrary, motivation, which, in some ways, became a bit too stubborn, was ever-present. Instead, it was the feeling of falling into a hole, a cocoon of unreality. Every day, at 2:30, I logged off my last class and gulped down a strong black coffee. Homework and studying stretched to 11:30. Then, I woke up at 6:30 and repeated everything. For six months, I was consumed with five APs, an intense religion teacher (who made us write essays on papal encyclicals every other week), studying for the SAT, and pre-college essays. Everything happened in those four white walls.. Although my body slacked with emptiness, my mind sometimes managed to escape for a couple of hours into the lessons of Physics or US History. When it landed back to the present, my mind found my legs contorted in odd shapes, my neck sore from reading, and my eyes dry as paper. Every day I breathed in what seemed to be depleting oxygen But I kept going. My room, once quaint and lively, became a suffocating vacuum. When I went outside, my eyes strained to adjust to the light, and I grew anxious at the unfinished homework lying open in my desk. Week after week, it seemed like I was flying with school but going nowhere in the real world. In my room, silence became sound. Mute, I was stuck in my stiff purple chair, staring at empty-eyed classmates through screens. Around the end of the third quarter, the lack of sunshine made me feel like I was decomposing. Things were opening again, yet I had to keep up with school. That was the only thing that had gone right, and I had to see it through. I was sleep-deprived, and my black coffee now tasted like water. That did not matter to me. I kept going. The SATs came and left. Then came AP tests and my sister's graduation. I dreaded going back to my room after coming back from testing. I disliked sitting at my desk for more than an hour. I wanted to regain the six months of high school that had passed by. It reached the point where I felt out of place in my room. My thoughts wandered to ideas of walking school halls, laughing about whatever nonsense teenagers laugh about with friends. But those thoughts stayed thoughts. I remained surrounded by four white walls. Then, alas, summer began. The shadows of senior year and college were whispered through emails as I closed my computer screen and prayed that next year would be different. Though my junior year was less than ordinary, I am incredibly thankful that I could continue my education and stay on track. I doubt that if we had been in person, I would have been able to accomplish what I did. At home, I had more time for everything. Even though my mental state was robotic and I felt trapped, there is no denying that all my studying paid off. The question that I now pose myself is how to accomplish the same feats while not turning into a coffee churning machine. I want to keep doing well in school, but I also want to create memories that do not end with closing textbooks or turning assignments in. What makes me feel better about the whole ordeal is that when I talk to friends about the past year, they all mention the pandemic. It is as though we have unconsciously bonded over the baggage we carry from the last year. Covid impacted everyone's life. Learning how others coped with their hardships and helping them through their struggles has helped me move away from the encroaching four walls of my bedroom and into the world. As summer comes to a close and high school opens its doors to me one last year, I wish for the balance that Junior year lacked and the good grades that it flowed with.
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