Behind the Mask
Numb — North Carolina
The end of my senior year would mean a lot for me. It would mean performing as the lead in my last school musical. It would mean performing in my last chorus concert. It would mean passing the torch to my friends in classes below me. It would mean walking across the stage in cap and gown and being able to say that I survived high school. When COVID hit, it quickly became clear to me that none of these meanings would be the same as I had initially thought—and oddly enough, I quickly got over it. There came a moment where I was stunningly numb to the proportions of it all. In comparison to my friends, who outwardly lamented the loss of everyday life, I felt inhuman. All of the possibilities and what if’s had been purged from my thoughts.
This fall, I started my first year of college as a musical theatre major. My studies would usually be dependent on congregation, mass interaction, and human contact, but naturally, this year is not the case. In just a semester at University of North Carolina in Greensboro (UNCG), I can already see how much has had to change to accommodate COVID guidelines and yet, everyone in the school of theatre is trying their hardest to keep creating. Seeing productions being moved into larger rehearsal spaces, masks being incorporated into costumes, and films being recorded in safe, clever ways stirred something within me.
I had decided earlier that the best way to overcome the previous disappointment was to silently endure. My passion came back. I wanted to see a live show again. I wanted to perform for others again. I wanted to sing with my friends again. My school was doing everything in its power to allow me the opportunities to do these things.
Many people say that COVID-19 served as a cold splash of water to the face: a wakeup call to appreciate everything that we have in life. For a while, I couldn’t say that it was the same for me. For me, it was a lesson on how to deal with loss. A lesson that I now realize I had misunderstood. Living during the times of COVID-19, I’ve learned that it’s okay to mourn the things that have gone wrong in life. Feeling that want, that desperate desire to keep something that I had previously lost, it made me feel like a person again.
— Soraiah Williams, 18
Cary, North Carolina