COVID changed everyone’s lives, schools shifted from traditional face-to-face class to online setup, and highways that were once occupied with rushing vehicles have become ghostlike streets.
My daily routine changed. I no longer needed to set my alarm at 5 a.m., I didn’t need to rush ironing my uniform at the eleventh hour, and my sister and I stopped fighting over who’s going to use the bathroom first.
At night, only the barking of the dogs gave life to our surroundings. No more videoke and tagay-tagay in the neighboring houses. There were no more children roaming around our village, asking to play tumba lata. The rusty sardine can that they used remained in the same spot where they usually spent their time after class and during weekends.
My sister and I used to play badminton in a small yard in front of the house at 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. But not anymore.
I became severely hooked on social media. My phone screen was my companion from early in the morning until midnight. I also watched 10 K-dramas at the height of the pandemic.
Eventually I felt bored and sick of living with that kind of routine. I felt that it affected my health and caused me sleeplessness. I was carrying the weight of my fears and overthinking.
One night, it was past 2:30 a.m. and I still couldn’t fall asleep no matter how hard I tried to close my eyes while I listened to Christian songs. I pulled my hair as hard as I could and cried under my pillow.
When morning came, nothing changed. It took me three weeks to recover from that night, a battle that I conquered alone.
I started to divert my attention to writing poetry and practicing Chemistry problems because I thought at the time that I would be taking up BS Chemistry in college.
Passing the Upcat
Nothing compared to the happiness that I felt when I passed the Upcat (University of the Philippines College Admission Test). UP is my dream university and passing the test was a great blessing from above.
However, I wasn’t accepted to the degree program that I wanted. And my first year in UP would be through distance learning. Still, I enrolled in UP.
But I had hesitations. I worried about time management, the internet connection, my intellectual capacity, and my sleep patterns. During the first week of class, everything ran smoothly and I was so eager to do my tasks and pass everything on time. But as online classed continued, I slowly lost interest. It became so draining and it consumed all my energy. I became so irritated with the unstable internet connection and I always felt panicked.
There were times during synchronous class that I could hardly hold the computer mouse because my hand was shaking so hard and I could not control it. I barely talked during Zoom meetings because I didn’t have the courage. I completed tasks just for the sake of compliance. I always had to tell myself “bahala na ’to, at least tapos na.”
I’ve been trying my best not to fall apart and not to put my emotional, mental and physical health at stake. It’s my foundation in life that keeps me going.
Now, I give ample time to myself. When I feel tired, I take a break and rest to regain my energy. It is essential.
When my eyes seem too heavy, I take naps. I sleep as early as 9:30 p.m. When my shoulders feel numb, I do stretches. When I don’t have the energy to do my schoolwork, I turn off my laptop and binge-watch K-dramas.
The pandemic has been filled with heartaches and silent battles. But it also taught me to take things easy and value life.
I want that sablay, UP kong mahal.
Despite the struggles I’ve been through, I find myself smiling from ear to ear again as I imagine myself wearing that sablay and walking along the aisle of the university atrium. —CONTRIBUTED INQ