Behind the Mask
The Good in the Bad — Mississippi
When the COVID-19 pandemic started truly affecting the U.S. and my hometown, I immediately felt a huge sense of loss and fear. I think everyone saw everything they loved taken away from them. Being able to be with your friends and loved ones, being close to them without fear of getting them sick or getting sick yourself, became a distant dream. I didn’t get to experience my full sophomore year of high school, and saw something I lived for, performing and being on stage, become one of the most dangerous things one could do during a pandemic. But most importantly, I read about and listened to the drastic number of cases and deaths, and felt hopelessness and fear take over the whole world.
The pandemic has been, in the simplest terms, awful. It has taken millions of lives around the world, and still continues to take the lives of grandparents, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children… It has divided the country and instilled confusion and mistrust that may last in peoples’ hearts forever. In such a situation, sometimes all you can see is the bad. I was a very different person when the pandemic began, and I felt angry and sad and so confused. I wondered why this was happening, why people in power weren’t doing more to control it, wondered why some people didn’t seem to care about such a dire issue, and lived in fear of myself or one of my family members getting sick. But when something has done so much bad, it’s important to find and remember the good things that have gotten you through. I don’t think I would be the same person I am today if the pandemic hadn’t happened. In losing so much, I learned to appreciate and cherish what I have. I got so much time with my family, time that had always escaped me before, and got closer to them than I had ever been. I educated myself about social issues and figured out who I am and what I think is right and wrong. I began to appreciate the little things about the world and about my friends that I had always taken for granted. Every part of the pandemic, the bad and the good, has affected me in ways I would have never imagined, and it has truly made me the person I am today.
While it’s easy to talk about COVID-19 like it’s over, the tough thing to realize is that it’s not. It continues to take lives and create fear and confusion, and no one can truly say when life will go back to “normal.” It’s so important for people to recognize this and continue to do everything they can to stop the spread and keep themselves and others safe. Life may never return to what it was before the pandemic, but I hope that we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Though there has been and there still is so much bad, I’m going to continue to try and find what good I can, as hard as it may be.
— Mary Taylor Spell, 17