What I learned from the pandemic: Khushi Niyyar, The Westminster Schools

Reporter Newspapers asked local students to respond to the following prompt: “Take a moment to reflect on how the pandemic has challenged you, what skills you relied on or developed to cope, and how you might use this experience to improve your future.”

Khushi Niyyar

The Westminster Schools, Class of 2022

Khushi Niyyar
The Westminster Schools, Class of 2022

“Sorry, I can’t,” I apologized again, the words feeling dry within my mouth. Having both sets of my grandparents living with me during the pandemic was both something I was intensely grateful for and something I partially resented. I pulled back on a few activities — Cross-Country, Track — where I felt that I, and by extension them, would be safe. In the larger scheme of things, not going to a restaurant or missing out on practices were small inconveniences for a much larger payout, but it felt like I was losing aspects of myself in the process.

I have always been a fairly hands-on learner, needing to feel the weight of a pen beneath my fingers to understand abstract concepts, so the sudden shift to my computer felt jarring. In addition, most of the aspects of school that I loved — clubs and sports and friends and freedom — gradually fell away until every day was one endless cycle. It became imperative, then, that I educate myself and find ways to break the cycle. I found new hobbies and interests, met virtually with friends, and gravitated toward my family, spending endless hours on games, cooking, and just sitting and talking into the early morning. The first few weeks and even months felt like we were in a time warp and I shunned regularity and routine. However, as summer turned into fall, and fall into winter, I decided that I needed to start creating my own schedule and developed a level of independence and thoughtfulness that I never believed I could be capable of otherwise. During this time, when the world stood still, I discovered more about myself than I have in any other period of my life.

However, living through a pandemic was not all growth and development. Seeing the death toll rise in India and wondering which of my relatives would be next took a greater toll on me mentally than I realized at that time. It was not until my grandparents and family could get vaccinated that I felt the weight I was carrying finally lift off my shoulders.

In the end, I might remember the mindless blur of Zoom screens or the new weight of a mask or the growing isolation, but it is that moment of relief that I will carry with me past COVID and into my life beyond. I was a person rediscovering my humanity, and I will be a stronger person because of it.

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