An Open Letter To Who I Was Before The Pandemic

To myself (circa March 2020 and earlier),

Boy, do I have a lot to tell you. 

I’m sorry to break this to you, but your last two years of being a teenager will unfortunately not go as you expected — not even close. Your life will start winding down just as you want it to ramp up; you’ll go from exciting, social, action-packed days to almost two years of uncertainty, fear, and a loss of normalcy so strong that you’ll find yourself adjusted to a “new normal.” The changes in society will become so ingrained in your new habits that one day, it’ll be hard to transition out of this “new normal.” Believe it or not, in the span of just a few days, the entire world will have changed drastically.

In preparation for this major shift, here are a few things I’d like to tell you — lessons you think you already know well. Perhaps future-me would also benefit from hearing these lessons once again.

First, you’ve got to appreciate your life more. You’re probably rolling your eyes, thinking, yeah, I’ve heard that one before, but just hear me out. I know, high school is anxiety-provoking (although, just you wait until university) and annoying sometimes. But every day, no matter what stresses you have, I want you to take it all in. Enjoy seeing your friends every day and enjoy having classes without taking any precautions, because it’ll soon become significantly harder — and actually illegal, believe it or not — to be together with all of your friends in the same way. Soak up every class, every chat with a friend, every group encounter; trust me, you’ll wish you had.

Please, oh please, live in the moment. You won’t believe me, but 90% of the things you’re currently worried about will be cancelled indefinitely — your beloved job, dance classes and competitions, schoolwork, and yes, even prom. On that note, stop worrying about arbitrary future events, like finding a prom date; I know, this is one of your biggest worries right now (and a pretty foolish and meaningless one at that). You have absolutely no idea what’s about to come your way, so you may as well just live in the moment and take life one day at a time. So what if you’ll have to go to prom without a date? You should just be grateful for the opportunity to go at all.

On that note, don’t take anything in your life for granted. You’ll soon learn what matters most — primarily, your support system, consisting of your closest friends and family. You’ll soon have a newfound appreciation for all of the things you’re currently taking for granted — simply going out to eat, hanging with friends, and having big family gatherings will be more of a treat than they ever were. I want you to enjoy every aspect of life, especially the busy, exciting nature of it all, because you won’t see that again for another while.

Now that we’re basically out of this unfortunate period of time, I can only see how much I’ve grown over these past couple of years. I’m certainly glad to be emerging from this whole mess, but that doesn’t mean my attitude will return to the way it was before. For the next two years I have left at university, I’ll do my best not to sweat the small stuff, and I’ll try to cherish every moment now that it’s safe to live our normal lives again.

So, to my past self, I’d like to say: enjoy it. These next couple of years will surely be unexpected, but the experience will make you a better person. You’ll initially think this is the end of the world, but you’ll soon meet people you wouldn’t have otherwise connected with, and you’ll grow to an extent you never thought you would. Your life is going to change, for better and for worse, so you may as well enjoy where you are now.

Sincerely,

Abby (circa November 2021)