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Clear and Refined



At the start, I was actually excited after learning that we might have to do online classes. I love the boarding school environment and I’m really grateful for it, but I was reaching a point where I was ready to go home and take a break. I wanted to experience online learning, at least for a little while. I did acknowledge that this was a very privileged standpoint to take, because a lot of people don’t share the same sentiment. I also felt a little guilty that I had the privilege to have this mindset, but to be honest, this whole period of online learning was the most transformative and reformative period of my life. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. During this time, almost every aspect of my life became so much clearer and refined.

Most of my close friends live in coronavirus hotspots and really big cities. When I hear about their experiences during the pandemic and I look around my town— which has only had one coronavirus-related death— I feel a sense of guilt. Some small towns responded to the pandemic like China— by closing themselves up quickly and adhering to public safety policies. But recently, there’s been a huge surge in coronavirus cases, so it’s been a pretty interesting situation. At the start, I didn’t think that our area would surge anywhere near as much as a city like New York.

At the beginning of quarantine, I was used to waking up really late and feeling bad about myself afterwards. One day, I woke up early and felt really good about myself, so since then, I’ve been waking up super early. I start off my day with a bible study; no matter what my days hold, it’s always the first thing I do. I’m also currently taking a class that requires a lot of work, so I spend a lot of doing that, too. Additionally, I’ve been getting through books and reading. I spend most of my day at my desk, but I really enjoy that.

I just recently started my first relationship, and that has taught me about loyalty and sacrifice and taking ownership of the things that I’ve done wrong. Before the pandemic, and before the relationship, I liked to think that I was aware of myself, but now, I’m just glad that I’ve broken out of that bubble.

My spiritual life has been really refined and I’ve pinpointed and identified what my true interests are. I’ve learned that I love reading— which came as a surprise to me! Being forced to only contact my closest friends has also helped me develop my friendships to a different dimension. I’ve learned how to love myself and how to have a good relationship with myself. Before the pandemic, I felt that I always had this pressure to be productive, but now I’m learning how to just be ‘okay’ with allowing myself to take a day off to just chill.

The main way that I’ve changed is that I now have a radically different mindset— I am no longer so focused on the little details. I’ve begun to just enjoy the whole experience. When I go back to school in the fall, I hope to enjoy every day and continue to not worry about everything.

—Caroline



Written by: Tony He

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