We wish we were older when the pandemic hit. At home, with the same job we’ve worked for 20 years where one year lost doesn’t matter so much. Or, we wish we were younger — children who thought going to school was a chore and wanted to stay at home anyway.

But we’re not. We are students who were given four precious years that were said would be the best of our lives. Some of us took three years, others took six, but each one was supposed to be priceless.

One of those years is gone now. Fourteen months of youth spent in our bedrooms, isolated, running on shots of espresso and caffeine pills. We catch memories where we can — a dinner with a friend, that day we go into the office, an impromptu weekend trip — but they’re hard to come by.

Although the light at the end of the tunnel is there, things will never be as they once were, at least not while we’re young.

Adults with steady jobs may return to work to see the same coworkers that they missed. When we return to school in the fall, many of our friends will be gone, off and graduated and never to be seen again. We’ll only have a semester with some, maybe a year with others. Some of us will be COVID-19 graduates who finished their college years from home.

Some of us have missed opportunities to get involved in on-campus activities of which we found interest. Others may have never had the chance to attend a basketball game or see a play produced by the theater department. 

These aspects may seem trivial, but the college experience is idolized. Even decades later, people reminisce about their college years and dub them the good old days. Much of our “good old days” will have been in a pandemic.

College is a unique and life-altering period that’s different for each individual. Walking across campus or the graduation stage in front of all of your family, friends and classmates is an opportunity some will never get to experience. 

Celebrating accomplishments and major life feats from a screen left us feeling detached and distant from our normal lives. We became used to the frequent disappointment that came with cancelled events and postponed plans with loved ones, losing hope that we would ever get our sense of connection back. 

Despite these missed opportunities and setbacks, we will move on and try to make the most of the time that was taken from us. 

Quarantine gave us the opportunity to re-evaluate ourselves. Although isolating, it changed who we were, how we thought and even how we presented ourselves. We learned how to adapt, and dealing with curveballs is far easier than it once was. We learned how to keep an open mind when thinking of the future and developed a mindset that next week isn’t guaranteed to be the same as it is now.

Though we would have liked to learn these lessons an easier way, it’s forced us to prove our resiliency. There’s nothing that can be said that would justify the pandemic, but we try to look for the silver linings.

Editorials typically end with some sort of call to action, but it’s impossible to turn back time and get back the year we missed. Instead, all we can do is move forward.

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