A GEN Z’S perspective after a year of COVID-19

By: Natalia Quinonez

Who would've thought we would miss the familiarity of precedented times? As we approach a year since we felt the impact of COVID in the U.S., what have these unprecedented times brought us?

Scrolling through TikTok and Instagram, I started to see memes about the coronavirus. It seemed so distant, all the way in China, and like a big internet hoax.

I didn't think much of it until it hit close to home.

At the time, I was a senior at the University of Alabama, enjoying my last college semester. My family lived in South Korea, and when my mom wrote to me saying things were getting serious over there, I immediately fell under a heavy blanket of anxiety. I was constantly worrying about my family contracting the virus. This was before COVID had hit every single news headline. A Google search wasn't helping me much; scientists and reporters didn't understand it either. A couple of weeks went by, and the tone around the flu like virus started to feel omniscient and fearful, the hysteria and rumors about this virus picked up.

No one knew what to believe.

I constantly FaceTimed my family, who had just started their mandatory quarantine, and tried to take early precautions, alerting my friends of how serious it was. They assured me we would be okay; little did we know that schools in bigger cities were already beginning to shut down.

Monday, exactly one week before spring break, I walked into my persuasion class as usual. My professor addressed the class, announcing the university would not be shutting down and letting us know which assignments would be due once we returned from spring break. The following Thursday, the tone shifted drastically. My professor somberly said: "The University just had an emergency staff meeting; we won't be coming back into class. We haven't worked out all the details but we’re most likely moving online. Guys, I'm sorry, I had no idea."

It all happened so quickly. The memory is ingrained in my head; it felt like we were living in a Sci-Fi movie. Some students were cheering. Many of us were worrying about graduation.

Fast forward to quarantine. I'm sure we all remember the phase of no toilet paper; we were all adjusting to the new normal.

What I realize most is how resilient we indeed are (and how unsanitary we were before this!).

It's hard to fathom that we were all in the same boat. We all missed restaurants, live events, going to the movies and embracing friends and family.

This year has been full of darkness. But it has also been a year of discovering how to care for others, building compassion and empathy. A year of acknowledging those we may not have always seen as our heroes.

We can all agree there have been shallow points, but some good as come out of this too. There was sourdough bread baking, tie-dying, board games, home workouts, downloading Zoom, hours of TikTok dances.

It may not be over, and it may never be "gone," but life keeps going, and so do we. Although we may not be crowding around at music venues or hugging our loved ones regularly, there is joy in appreciating those moments even more now and not taking the little things for granted.

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