Key words I hope to avoid here are “pandemic”, “unprecedented”, “resilient”, “uncertain”, and just about any word you can associate the lockdown with. Hey, “lockdown” was another one!
But in order for me to share with you the following I may have to use these—please bear with me (no pun intended). I may just fill your quarantine bingo card by the end of it. Look, just gave you one more freebie!
Like many, the pandemic has changed my life in every which way. Who would have thought that days after a care-free weekend in San Francisco I would be cocooning at my childhood home in Los Angeles? That as someone who identified as a social butterfly would turn into a homebody? Of course, the topsy turviness of it all goes beyond my contribution to social distancing by staying home.
I’d say that my reclusiveness came about the many firsts I encountered this year that I did not know how to navigate or process myself. Having to pay a whole year’s worth of rent for a place I wasn’t occupying while being unemployed, recovering from an armed robbery, and being cognizant of the many persons becoming or in the verge of becoming unhoused—in a state with a pre-existing housing crisis—made me feel uneasy, to say the least. Contracting covid turned me into an even more hyperaware person who did not want to pass it down to my immunocompromised parents or to my little sister, the light of my eyes. Becoming a tutor, translator, and nanny for a newly-arrived 14-year old from Guatemala taught me a lesson about some of the blessings I had been taking for granted. Being rushed to the E.R after one too many panic attacks made me feel the importance of a health care reform. & losing loved ones broke my heart...
As I write to you and reflect on some of the most difficult months of our lives, all I have left is empathy. Empathy for those whose stories have yet to be heard. Empathy for those whose stories are also told here. Empathy for those whose future stories about future challenges have yet to even be imagined.
For that reason, I dedicate this piece to you all today. Especially you, the Chicanx kid from a “ghetto” neighborhood. You, the student who has probably been made fun of for their low-income status by “educators” and “friends”. You, the one who feels like their college acceptances were to fulfill a diversity quota. You, the one who throughout their life has become too familiar with imposter syndrome.
Don’t let the environment and circumstances dim the pride and joy you are entitled to for achieving your goals—no matter how big or small. (FYI: I’m proud of myself for only using ONE of the words I initially referenced!)