The long anticipated article, our interview piece. We’ve interviewed 3 of our friends about how they’ve dealt with the pandemic, and we have their answers down below. We did slightly edit some of the wording, but for the most part this is exactly what they said. This is also an abridged version. If you want to hear the full interview, the recordings will be up on our patreon very, very soon!
How has the pandemic uniquely affected your life?
Clarissa: “I think a couple of things have come out of it. Initially, the pandemic was pretty bad for me because I think I’m someone who needs a lot of social interaction, so being stuck at home all day, staring at my computer in my room every single day was a little depressing. I couldn’t see any of my friends, so I think it definitely took a toll on my mental health, but a positive aspect was that I learned to appreciate things a lot more. Before, I would always complain about waking up at 6:30 every morning for school, but now I’m actually excited to be going to school and I’m more grateful for the time that I do get to spend with my friends.”
MKW: “Going to school is really different. All the precautions we’ve been taking are different. It hasn’t personally affected my personal life. I’ve been able to hang out with my friends, just differently. We’ve been having car circles and making a point to get together while socially distancing. Although I hate the pandemic, there are still some silver linings. I like 50/50 school and being at home. It sucks and it’s hard, but it’s also kind of good and it’s helped me in some ways.”
Eshal: “I had to move locations to India so I don’t go to actual real life school anymore.”
How has your mental health struggled during the pandemic?
Clarissa: “I don’t really think it was that bad. It wasn’t a super big deal, it’s just that I’m someone who really, really needs social interaction so just being stuck with myself was really the problem. I had a lot of time during the pandemic to just think. I thought about everything. I thought about my life, I thought about myself, I thought about who I am as a person, my relationships with other people, and I was just like oh no! Crisis time! I think having a lot of time with my thoughts really confused me about what I was doing.”
MKW: “I think it’s been pretty ok. A lot of my friends are having trouble, but personally I love spending time with people but I love my alone time. I like being at home and spending time with my family. I’m still able to do what I love to do, and I haven’t felt a need to go out and do stuff.”
Eshal: “There have been dips, especially when the pandemic started. I’ve gotten used to it, so it doesn’t really affect me anymore.”
Over the summer, there were also a lot of different events that happened and they kind of mixed with the pandemic. What were some of your feelings and responses to these events?
Clarissa: “It was good timing that the movements gained that much momentum during the pandemic. Everyone was at home, we were all on social media, so you can’t avoid it or not know about it. Anyone who has technology would know about it, and I think it’s good that everyone is at least aware. No matter what their beliefs, it’s good to know at least something about the issue, and the pandemic allowed for that more than it would have.”
MKW: “I haven’t been doing a good job of keeping up with the news because I wasn’t on my computer as much. I was getting annoyed with seeing things about the pandemic. I’ve mostly focused on keeping up with BLM and the pandemic. The events of this summer that inspired protests were terrible, but the movement and protesting was positive. Being able to have these discussions and bringing them to life is especially important. The fact that this year we can really make progress is good and fitting. It’s a new decade. We’re trying to create change. 2020 hasn’t been a great year, but at least this is kind of a silver lining. I think the pandemic influenced it by getting it more online. People gain a lot of following by having an online following and looking things up. It’s made protests interesting and a little more controversial. There’s an issue with being covid conscious, which is one way it was influenced.”
Eshal: “I think with the pandemic, everything feels like normal life stops so everyone saw what was wrong. The pandemic revealed all the flaws that were wrong. It was a catalyst for other things that went wrong.”
What is it like being alive during the largest civil rights movement? How has it shaped you and other high schoolers?
MKW: “I’ve had a lot of discussions about how our background shapes our beliefs. A part of that is generations. Younger generations are more open minded and are better at addressing these issues which I think is really cool. There’s more education about these issues. Growing up during this time is really good because I can have these discussions.”
As a teenager during the pandemic, do you think there’s something unique about your experience?
Clarissa: “I wouldn’t say special in a good way. I’ve actually read a study online that says teens are the most affected by the pandemic, at least mental health wise because we’re in our growth and development phase. This is when social development matters a lot. For adults, they have jobs, but they can work from home. For elementary school kids, I don’t think they have any idea what’s going on. For teenagers, we’re aware of what’s going on. We’re so busy and stressed out about literally everything in our life that having to be so careful and isolated takes a toll. It’s a really big stage of our life. High school’s only 4 years, and it’s not something we’re going to get back.”
MKW: “As a teen, I didn’t have to think about losing a job. I was going to get a summer job, but I didn’t because I didn’t want to endanger myself or others. I didn’t have to worry about my career. It’s happened mostly over the summer. We just had the last quarter online. Nothing was required, but I still did everything. In general, younger people are better with technology. My generation has a better grasp on how technology works and how to figure things out, so switching to all technology and still being able to connect with friends has been a lot easier because I am a teenager.”
Eshal: “There’s a lot going on at school, so it messes up a lot of that stuff. I think school is the primary issue and everything getting paused was unique.”
How difficult was it to try and learn at home last quarter?
Clarissa: “I think the first two weeks, I really tried. I was like I’m going to stay involved, but then there were also APs in May so towards the end of the quarter, I was like if this class is not an AP and I’m not taking the exam for it, then I don’t care. I hated screen time on zoom and I didn’t want to be on my computer all day so I kind of gave up towards the end. But, I used that time to study for my AP’s instead.
Now that school’s starting again, have any of your anxieties about the pandemic increased or changed?
Clarissa: “Not really. I think our school is doing a pretty good job. I don’t know how long it’s going to last, but we’re back in the yellow zone. I do know there are a lot of kids partying a lot, and you see groups of people going to camps where they weren’t socially distancing or wearing masks, and I think it’s a little concerning. I’m glad no one I personally know has it. I guess it just doesn’t really seem that real. Obviously, I believe the coronavirus is horrible and it exists, it’s just that since I don’t really have that personal connection with corona, I think as long as everyone follows protocols and we’re all wearing masks at school, then whatever they do outside of school doesn’t really involve me that much.”
MKW: “I definitely expect schools to close. I’ve been surprised lately with how we’re moving into yellow, and how information is interpreted. I try to stay away from classmates and teachers. DOing sanitation. I try to stay safe, even though I chose to do 50/50 school because I learn better in class and it’s good to interact with people. Before we actually went to school, I was worried about how things would work and I thought it would go downhill. First day, it seemed like everyone was following precautions. Considering the situation, our school is doing all right. I still have a lot of concerns and expectations of getting closed down. I do have anxiety about taking corona home to my family.”
Eshal: “I definitely think it’s going to spread. I don’t think you can stop that, especially with school starting. From what I’ve heard, the school district I used to go to is doing ok, but I wouldn’t expect that to last very long. I think it might last until October or November, before everything closes down.
There’s also been some stigmatizations going around with the coronavirus towards Asians. Have any of these stigmas affected you?
Clarissa: “No one has told me ‘you bubonic plague carrying rat’ or anything like that, and I haven’t personally experienced corona racism, but it just makes me mad that people are so stubborn sometimes. A lot of people just don’t believe science. Chinese people did not invent the coronavirus. It’s a virus! For the people blaming China, yes I do think initially they could’ve taken more drastic measures, but the thing is it’s a new virus that we didn’t know anything about. I don’t think any US official like Trump has any right to complain about how China handled the virus when our country is doing such a horrible job at managing it. It took China 2 months to get it under control. I think there’s some research that says if we all wore masks for 6 weeks, then corona would be fine in the US. This started in March, it’s the end of August. The people that are complaining about how China handled the virus first have to look at how their own country is handling it before trying to blame someone else for what has already happened.”
How is the pandemic different in India from the US?
Eshal: “They check you way more at the airport. Everyone does everything online here. It’s more crowded where I live, so people try not to go outside. It’s not as normal as it is in the US because people are being a lot more careful. The government response isn’t great, but everyone is doing what they can more so than over there in the US.”
How comfortable were you with going out at the beginning of the pandemic vs now?
Clarissa: “I was ok either way. I stayed home at the beginning for the most part. Everyone perceived it as a really big deal, and obviously it is, but that’s kind of dying down. I wasn’t too afraid because I wore a mask. I didn’t go to many places, but when I went to the grocery store or something, everyone was wearing a mask and so was I. As long as I bring my hand sanitizer and touch as little as possible, then I’ll be ok. As for now, I do definitely think that concern has gone down. Quarantine isn’t sustainable. No one can live like that forever. Now, when I hang out with my friends, we don’t always wear masks but I know we’re all responsible and that as long as the people I’m with are responsible and aware that it’s a big deal, I’ll be ok.”
Eshal: “I didn’t go out really except for the week before I left. I guess it’s just more normal now, though.”
How has your thought process about the pandemic changed?
MKW: “I’ve kind of gone through some stages. At the beginning, when we were starting to get information I though the news might be inflating it some. I didn’t realize it was that bad, but then I started to realize it was real and terrible and happening in so many places and I was really sad and disappointed about it. Then everything started to get canceled. Eventually you start to get used to it and all of the precautions. I’m still very conscious and I get frustrated when people aren’t. Now that we’re going to school, I feel like I’ve stopped paying as much attention because I don’t want to hear about the coronavirus all the time. I still try and pay attention though. It’s feeling more normal to be around people now, and I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing. I don’t want to be scared of being around people, but I don’t want to get too comfortable.”
Can getting annoyed or bored with a big issue like the pandemic be dangerous?
MKW: “Yea I think that’s definitely a possibility. THat’s why I still try to keep up. If I don’t get information about these issues and have enough issues, that will lead to ignorance. I need to know where my state and my city stands. I get a lot of information from family and friends. It’s important you have at least a general understanding of what’s going on. It’s definitely dangerous not to keep up or talk about issues. Discussion is important to us as a society and as people.”
Eshal: “Yeah, it can be if you think it’s not a problem and start to live normally again. It’s inevitable to get desensitized after receiving the same information over and over again.”
Where do you fall in mask politics?
Clarissa: “I think everyone should wear a mask and if you don’t believe they work, you’re dumb. It’s just science! Countries that have mask mandates work better. Here, we had a mask mandate and cases have gone down. A neighboring town doesn’t and they’ve been in the red for months. It’s not an inconvenience. It’s just a piece of fabric over your face. How uncomfortable can it be? Masks aren’t that uncomfortable. Think of it like a shirt. You don’t complain about a shirt. If it’s that big a deal, just stay home.”
Eshal: “You should wear a mask. Anyone who doesn’t isn’t doing the right thing. You should also limit your contact with others.”
Why have masks gotten so political?
Clarissa: “Everything is political. They want to feel like they have a choice. They’re going to do the opposite of what they’re told. They want to think they always have a choice.”
MKW: “I really don’t know, but I think it’s because there’s been some issues with it’s our rights and freedom, which is the basis of the issue. I don’t think it’s imparting your freedom, and it shouldn’t be a problem, but I can see why they might be when we have the freedom to do other things that aren’t safe for you and others. I don’t agree. It shouldn’t be political. Protect yourself and others. Slow the spread.”
Eshal: “Everyone there is told to look out for themselves and not care about others. People are taught individualism and to do whatever they want without regards to others, so they think they have the right to spread diseases and not wear masks.”
What was a positive you got out of the pandemic?
Clarissa: “I was able to multitask. I could have 2 zooms up at the same time. Before the pandemic, I was going to have to choose, but since we’ve been home I haven’t had to. I’ll have my calc zoom here, my debate zoom there, and I’ll have someone tell me what’s going on in summer school and let me know if the teacher calls on me. I was just able to multitask my way through many things.
MKW: “It allowed me to do some other things. Debate got turned online, which I don’t like but it’s understandable. I actually got to do nationals for debate and summer school. I was going to have to choose, and I need summer school to graduate, but I also wanted to go to nationals. I was able to do both at home instead, though. I also got to do online debate camp. It was only a week long and online, but it was still really helpful. It’s basically scheduling. Online makes things easier. I go to church camp every summer, and this year was going to be my last because next year I’ll be in Spain and missing the date. Covid switched things around and camp got cancelled, however stuff next year got moved around because of covid, so I can do both and it’ll get worked out.”
Eshal: “I got to realize a lot of the flaws in the world and reflect more on myself. I got to spend time alone and reflect. I was also not as burdened with work. I wasn’t really able to do much because half the time we were just waiting to book a flight, and I didn’t know when we would leave, so I couldn’t make that many plans.”
Thank you so much for reading today’s article! Like we said, the recordings will be up on patreon soon, which will be linked down below. We’re figuring out our schedule for next month right now, so if there’s any articles you’d like to see, please let us know! If you liked this interview, leave a like, and if you like our content please follow our blog and subscribe to our rss feed. For more content like the interview recordings, some vlogs, and extra articles, check out our patreon linked down below. To keep updated, follow our social media down below. Stay safe this year and keep on overachieving!
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