2019 Elle Arvesen mug

Arvesen

After hours upon hours of mindless screen time listening to lectures, reliving the same day over and over, and generally having a horrible time in quarantine and online school, we are finally back. Back in school, that is.

We are once again able to talk to our friends instead of texting them funny messages and watching to see how they react on Zoom. Now, we can laugh with them.

For me, going back to school has been hectic, exciting, anxiety-inducing and an overall strange experience. To walk into the same classroom where, in 2019, I first found out about the COVID-19 virus was an out-of-body experience.

Even though I’m happy to be back, there is a “but” that comes after that statement. BUT, I am extremely stressed over COVID, and after talking with friends over the past week on the topic, it’s safe to say that other students feel the same way.

It’s one thing to walk the halls that you once knew so well and see an abundance of new people you’ve never seen before (new freshmen and sophomores), but it’s a whole other thing to see more students than you have ever seen going to Santa Ynez Valley High School.

When school first started started this year, I walked out to the school's new plaza, expecting not to see too many people there. Suffice it to say, I was wrong. It was packed, which seems unfortunate since this is the year that we would want exactly the opposite of that.

It’s scary to be talking to someone, sitting next to them, or even just seeing them one day, and the next day they're not there. You ask around and find out that they are sick.

You think, "Oh no, was I ever too close to them? Did I have my mask on when I was talking to them?" The same questions circle in your head until you make yourself sick and decide to give up.

Forget COVID, I'm only a teenager. Shouldn’t high school be about having fun and making memories that will last a lifetime? It’s a little hard to do that when I'm worrying about both mine and my family’s well-being.

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No matter how hard I try to forget about it, it still pokes at the back of my mind. “Don’t stand too close,” it says, “mask over your nose,” it demands.

My family and I have received multiple emails from the school that alert us of COVID cases on campus. The first time we got one was only a few days into the school year. Now, I’m wondering how many we will be getting in the next few months.

One thing that I've started trying out is to appreciate the small moments in life that make me smile. It drives away negative thoughts and energy and almost always makes me happy and thankful for what I have.

Especially after going through a pandemic and coming to the conclusion that I took life for granted when the looming threat of a killer virus wasn’t present, it is more important to cherish what I have now before high school slips away.

After doing some research of my own over the past year, and talking to highschoolers who are taking the same steps I am to find their future career path, I have some tips from my own experience to share with anyone who may be interested.

My parents were the first people to introduce to me the power of the written word, and for that, I am forever grateful. They gave me something worth its weight in gold.

Elle Arvesen is a local high schooler, and SYV News Teen Life columnist.

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