Dear Diary,

When the year 2020 began and news of the pandemic began to arise among media outlets, I initially thought that this would be an event of little consequence, at least within my life. I want to say that I later learned how wrong I was, but I think it would be unfair to say that I am finished with learning about both myself, both as an individual and of my life, during this time.

As a former high-school senior, I first-hand witnessed what it meant to have the idealized and long-awaited graduation be canceled, missing the opportunity to spend time with my classmates during what would be one of the most memorable nights of our lives, and not having one last summer with close friends before many of us would be heading into the next four years of both our education and careers. I recall saying that we would be seeing one another soon enough, perhaps during the breaks, but as we later learned, for many of us, that too would be one of the many things we had lost.

You may ask, what does this have anything to do with perhaps a struggle I might have? The thing is, it was one of the main contributing factors to the growing issues that arose within in towards the end of the year.

With the start of the summer break in 2020, I found myself diving deeper into books and questioning much of what I believed in, both spiritually and non-spiritually, as a way to deal with having too much time on my hands. This curiosity later transformed itself into spiraling self-doubt after the fall semester. I started wondering what if I was unable to perform academically well or if I did not meet the expectation that I have set for myself, worst of all, what if I am unable to maintain the image of the seemingly perfect individual that I have cultivated and kept polished for as long as I can remember.

I have personally heard from other individuals that being able to fail is okay. However, for me, I felt that this was never an option. When there are plenty of individuals, both in your family, your social group, and amongst your mentors that expect you to do excel academically and be emotionally intact, it becomes harder and harder to juggle the two, while actually dealing with conflicting emotions on the inside. The worst of this being, I wished that the issue resided on whether I could actually have the capabilities of excelling or getting good grades, but rather the issue was the fact that there would always be an expectation that I work as hard as I have been doing for years. Perhaps today it would be my education, but tomorrow, it would most likely translate to what type of job expectations and career ambitions I should have.

I have pondered over what it would mean if I were to let go of all that and simply continue on with my life, but then I remember that it would mean disappointing many individuals who have been with me through much of my education and life. I still struggle with deciding between my happiness and my goals and aspirations to this day, but I have learn one of many things that I will disclose here: I will only get one life and the opportunities that come my way are also same in this manner. And while I may not know what the future holds for me in the upcoming years, I hope to be able to live up to the expectations and hopes of those I care about, while finding a way to be happy and live the life that I envision for myself. All in all, the pandemic tore apart many of the dreams, goals and hopes that individuals all around the world had. Though it may seem that the plights of this almost 2nd-year college student may sound insignificant to those who lost jobs, homes, or family members, I want to say that I would completely understand such thoughts. Prior to the pandemic, I had never imagined that I would be one day questioning what to do with my life and the goals I have for myself. Yet I guess I find myself thankful for it, as it has taught me one thing in particular, which is the following: that it is okay to have doubts about the present and future; it is ultimately up to us to determine what we make of these circumstances.

I, for one, will continue to seek guidance and wisdom on how to proceed with my studies and career goals, while determining what it is that I really want in my life.