Reminiscing on my COVID-19 year

Photo courtesy of Blake Israel

If there is one thing that I definitely do not miss, it’s online school. Countless BlueJeans calls, Zoom meetings, muted professors, hot mics and Canvas quizzes; we were turned into iPad kids almost overnight.

However, looking back on that time has made me realize just how good we had it. 

Think about it: lack of intense time commitments left more time for exploring the city and online classes meant no walking to other classes, giving you time to watch that show you never had time for.

All of this added up to absurd amounts of free time. 

I used this time to meet new people and get involved in extracurriculars. I used this time to play “Among Us” until 5 in the morning with friends. I used this time to take on personal projects.

I used this time to attend study sessions and never study a single concept. I used this time to make memories that would last forever.

My freshman year felt like that awkward time where complete freedom and independence away from home clashed with COVID-19 restrictions and business closures. 

These factors allowed me to branch out and find a close-knit group of friends that would enjoy just about anything together. Now, it may just be that the stars aligned and my  freshman year during the pandemic somehow turned out to be as amazing as (if not better than) any other person’s freshman year. 

What may have felt like a waste of an academic year for some was an opportunity to grow independently for others. What may have seemed like numerous restrictions on life for some became opportunities for others to come out of their shell.

But alas, you will never fully appreciate something until it’s gone. This is how I feel about free time. 

Now that I’m more involved in clubs and getting deep into my major curriculum for classes, I have little time to myself, which does make me more appreciative of the free time I do have.

While I did take advantage of the online class days, a part of me still feels that I took it for granted. 

There are plenty of people that I grew close with then that I no longer see, many stories of mutual friends left untold and once frequented places now forgotten. 

To those people that are unwilling or unable to meet new people: putting yourself out there can make you vulnerable, but is keeping to yourself worth never knowing the answer to all those “what ifs?”

What if you found your true passion in life at a club meeting? What if you met your new best friend at a party? What if you made a new breakthrough doing undergraduate research? What if you met your future partner in a class? What if you’ve been holding onto the past for too long?

Reminiscing over the bonds you’ve had and the times you’ve enjoyed is all right but harping on what could have been is not worth your present time. 

Your present time is meant for making new and unforgettable memories with people that you enjoy being around — people that you might never see again in just a few short years.

To the freshmen: the importance of your freshman year cannot be overstated. 

The memories you make and the bonds you form with others may very well determine your next 4+ years at Tech and beyond. Always remember that friends may come and go, but memories are forever.

To everyone else, I leave you with this. One distinct scenario I recall told by a friend of mine years ago is the roundtable scenario: you only have six open seats around your table. 

Throughout your lifetime, close friends will come and go, relationships form but may break just as quickly, but you will always have six of your closest friends at the table.