During this uncertain time of COVID-19, young people around the world are struggling to adapt to drastic changes in their lifestyle. Our daily routines have been completely disrupted. In this article, I will share my personal struggles and the importance of self-care, resilience, hope, courage, and many more, to reflect on what we can overcome and achieve with a positive mindset.
Since beginning to shelter-in-place last month, I have been waking up early, setting daily routines to manage my time, and taking care of my personal health and managing academics as best I can. I try to maintain my health by consistently waking up early and going to sleep early, which directly benefits my mentality, positive mood, and sense of routine. I have been staying in close contact with my friends, mentors, and family members. I am on the phone daily with them, which helps me stay strong and have people to talk to during this vulnerable time. To avoid always being stuck at home, I have been running at the park daily to stay active, as well as progressing every day to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I have been cooking a lot of fresh food, while also trying to be aware of healthy portions. Along with my health, I try to complete daily school assignments, focusing on my academics and vision for my future. Although engaging in school virtually is unideal and can be an isolating experience, I try to stay motivated by acquiring only the most necessary information and concepts from online assignments and by taking breaks often to reset and reenergize. As many of my friends and family members are naturally anxious about COVID-19, I avoid worrying excessively by reassuring myself that if I stay healthy, maintain good hygiene, and focus on what I can control, I will be alright.
Before this pandemic, I was under depression, anxiety, stress, and insomnia with the circumstances of not valuing myself, and my innermost feelings overwhelmed me constantly. I really didn’t understand myself fully, what I desired, and what expectations or boundaries to set for myself. I began making mistakes and wrong decisions during times where I felt vulnerable and helpless, to the point where ultimately I came out of my shell and evolved into a better version of who I am now. All the mistakes I have made and the challenges I have overcome throughout my life have shaped me into a stronger, more independent, responsible, and fearless individual where I am able to help others, especially those who are marginalized. I have been taking advantage of this shelter-in-place time to self-reflect on where I am in the present and what I can improve on to better prepare for my future. With all my supportive, encouraging, and caring mentors who have advocated for me throughout my life and with the positive self-improvements I continue to make, I have learned to draw hope from being open-minded to all possibilities.
When I was younger, I showed signs of seeming social ineptness due to a difficult family life. My mother sent me to special needs schools for fear that I wouldn’t fare well in a regular school. I lived in a single parent environment with very little money, and my grandmother was the main figure in my life. She loved me so much that I acquired coping skills and a renewed sense of confidence, eventually summoning enough courage to insist that my mother enroll me in a regular public school. With the guidance of a great teacher who became my mentor, I have not only coped with school but exceeded everyone’s expectations by garnering an average of 3.0 (4 being the highest) just last year.
I continue to look for valuable mentors. I believe that “it takes a village to raise a valuable citizen,” and I am slowly forming and creating a wonderful village which will help me actualize my personal dreams and goals. Mentorship remains to be one of my most valuable tools toward college-readiness, but my experiences especially in community-related and nonprofit organizations are also key in the formation of my aspirations. I aim to give back to the community by becoming a mentor in the future.
I want to conclude this article by emphasizing that during this unprecedented and chaotic time, we are all in this together, and you are not alone. The truth is, there are a lot of genuine and caring people in your life such as family members, mentors, teachers, friends, or coworkers who are by your side no matter what, even if you may not realize it at first. Do not be afraid to speak out and let your voice be heard, if you are in need of help or support. The more you socialize and interact with people, the more confidence and social skills you gain. The most important thing is to be surrounded by people you are comfortable with and those who have touched your heart and embraced who you are as a person throughout your life. Even during this time of COVID-19, it is imperative to maintain close social connections, despite having to physically distance from one another. We must stay strong, healthy, and have the courage and persistence for good things to come.
5/8/2020 01:45:50 pm
Such a powerful piece and certainly written from the heart Am so glad you insisted on being enrolled at a regular school Justin. Keep on sharing your narrative. It will inspire others and that will be your legacy. More power to you and so very proud of your accomplishments!
1/1/2021 09:49:13 am
Hi Justin. Such wisdom and maturity coming from someone so young. Keep it up! The world will expect to see great things from you!
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TeenzTalk's Blog is here to amplify youth stories and perspectives on topics including personal challenges, self-care practices, initiatives in their community, and more.