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This essay shared third prize in the East County Leadership Council (ECLC) 2021 COVID-19 essay contest. Prize money has been provided through the generosity of ECLC donors and a grant from the Foundation for Economic Justice.

By Maryam Hashimi

El Cajon Valley High School student

July 13, 2021 (San Diego's East County) -- I was glad that schools were closing when Covid hit, but I was unaware of the difficult portion that lay ahead.

One of the most difficult aspects of COVID-19 was being at home the entire time. Throughout the academic year, I was heavily involved in school events. I would leave for school at 7 a.m. and return at 7 p.m.

Moving from a full schedule to an empty one was a significant adjustment. I simply didn’t know what to do with myself at home. My track and field, volleyball, and fashion show were all canceled, which made me very sad. Those were the only things that could keep me motivated and joyful on a daily basis. I grew depressed and had sporadic moments that I simply cried because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to achieve my goals.

Furthermore, not being active made me feel constantly unmotivated. I used to go to bed late and wake up late in the morning. My eating pattern was thrown off schedule as a result of my new sleeping pattern. I began to eat too many unhealthy snacks, get up at 2:00 p.m., have lunch at 6:00 p.m., and skip breakfast and dinner. I’d also stay up all night eating snacks. I would overthink “what am I doing with my life?”

I was also unable to win the Junior Female Athlete of the Year Award because even though I was sure to win as I had fought tirelessly throughout the year, the event was canceled.

We were unable to visit universities for the next senior year, which made it difficult for us to make a college decision. I applied to a lot of colleges and universities, but I didn’t know which one would be the best fit for me.

It’s incredibly depressing not knowing the next step.

I was unsure about the colleges and worried that I would make a mistake. Not knowing which college I want to go to is similar to not knowing what I want to do with my life and having no future. The college decision day, May 1st, was really stressful for me because I had to make a decision about my future. There was a lot of pressure on me, and as a first-generation college student, I didn’t have anyone to assist me to navigate the educational system and make decisions.

“What if I don’t pick the proper college?”, “What if I move far?”, “If I move far, do I have the money to pay for rent and other necessities?”, “Should I go to college first then transfer?”, “How do I pay for the books?”, “What if I make a mistake and damage my future?”, “What if…”

These questions made me fearful of college and colleges even more. Being unable to attend school in person also made it more difficult for me to interact with my professors about college options. With all of these challenges, I’ve learned a lot of new things that will benefit me in the future. COVID-19 has taught me to spend more time alone and to be more self-reliant.

You don’t need anyone else to have fun or to be happy; you can have fun and be happy by yourself.

I also learned to appreciate myself more than usual, realizing that I am perfect in my own way and that I should not compare myself to others. It took me a long time to love myself, but I eventually did. Almost every day, I stood in front of the mirror and spoke lovely things to myself. You’re lovely, you’re the finest, and you can achieve everything. you set your mind to. These kind words, I feel, contributed to my increased self-assurance and happiness.

It’s beneficial to learn how to be more self-assured and joyful since you don’t need anyone to tell you how lovely you are or to make you happy.

After seeing so many individuals die from COVID every day, I realized how vital my health is and began to eat healthier, drink more water, and exercise. There have been numerous more changes in my life as a result of COVID. This virus has had both positive and negative effects on me.


Reprints of this essay must credit the author as follows: “Third Prize Winner in the East County Leadership Council 2021 COVID-19 Essay Contest.”

©2021 East County Leadership Council. Reprint permission granted if attribution properly noted.


The other winning essays:



NEW NORMAL By: Merna Poulis


Originally published at:

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you have

learned a valuable lesson... these two sentences....."COVID-19 has taught me to spend more time alone and to be more self-reliant. You don’t need anyone else to have fun or to be happy; you can have fun and be happy by yourself.".... should be shared with everyone in the US especially the NON-believers.

yeah I liked that part too

excellent highlight santeecitizen. kids and teens these days are so smart!! :) santeecitizen: keep in mind most western thought is to look to God for the answers, in a lot of eastern cultures it is looking within yourself. hopefully we're talking a good balance between the two perspectives. certainly could open up a nice debate topic! :)

our youth are often forced to grow up so quickly, it sometimes appears. from artificial growth hormones in our milk to a breakdown of the nuclear family, i sometimes worry.

with all this borrowed money, from our government, to our households, to our businesses, they/we might be in for a real rough ride 30 or 40 years from now (possibly longer, perhaps much much sooner) i hope they/we/'re able to navigate it and come out safely on the other side

God bless you Maryam and thanks for keeping it real!!!