I have only ever been to two graduations in my entire life. Both of them were eighth-grade graduations: mine in 2016 and my sister’s in 2018. June 2020 was a signal of my upcoming graduation from high school; however, much like the rest of my fellow Class of 2020 students from my school and around the world, I too missed out on my Grade 12 graduation. Instead, many of us were addressed and congratulated by former President Barack Obama and other celebrities…through a screen.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I was excited to get the once in a lifetime opportunity to commemorate my time in high school by attending my graduation. I had worked hard for it and it would have given me a chance to celebrate all that I had accomplished over my four years there. Little did I know, I was completely wrong. There was no fancy graduation, just an anti-climatic finish to everything that was supposed to be just the opposite of anti-climatic.

Instead of celebrating my graduation “explicitly” with caps and gowns and a traditional ceremony at a rented-out hall, I found myself “celebrating” all the things I was fortunate enough to even be able to do, things that I may have taken for granted. Waking up and spending the majority of my time in the four walls of my home, I was forced to adapt to a latter half of a senior year that involved not being able to see my friends in person, and taking cumulative tests and exams online. My IB exams were reduced to nothings and my Diploma was riding on the fact that I just keep my grades up from what they were before we had “left school”.

Time seemed to move slower than I had previously thought. My days: longer. My motivation: close to zero. My hope for life to return to some form of normalcy: slowly diminishing. My graduation and prom: running farther and farther away from me as March, April and May passed by…slowly.

This may seem very miserable to you but I will assure you that it was not as bad as I make it seem. These past several months, while a bit boring and lonely, have allowed me to reflect and slow down in a way that I have never been able to do before. The exciting part about all of this is that I have been doing this all from the comfort of my own home.

Considering that the world pretty much slowed to a stop, I was finally able to catch up with myself and check in to see how I was really doing. Sure, I was upset that I was missing out on so much typical of a senior year in high school, but knowing that I wasn’t the only one feeling this way made the process that much more bearable.

High school–as cliché as it sounds–is supposed to help you find out who you really are and what you’re all about. Even without a graduation, I think I was able to learn a lot about myself. Now, I will admit that I was yearning for some sort of closure as I begin a new chapter of my life soon, but that doesn’t mean that I had to be ungrateful in this process.

While my brain will forever associate my high school years with this pandemic, I think my reflections enabled me to see past what the virus took from me. Such a mindset is very selfish of me. What this whole process did was it helped me become aware of the happenings around the world, especially of those that didn’t directly involve me, or that were quickly developing and that needed my attention in order to be solved. While it can be all too easy to hold a grudge and remain frustrated with an undesirable outcome in life, remaining positive and trying to take the high road will serve us better in the long run.

Then in this case, I guess graduating from high school during a pandemic wasn’t as terrible as I thought it would be…

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