April 6, 2021

By Tayler Shaw, Staff Writer

2020 felt like a whirlwind for me. On March 19th last year, places everywhere were indefinitely shut down in response to the coronavirus. I remember it being announced as having similarities to the flu, but was more severe and deadly. I recall social media trying to find humor in the situation where I saw a majority of people finding it hilarious and not taking it to heart. I was surprised and disagreed with this behavior. As I followed protocols and did my best to stay safe. 

It didn’t take much for me to adjust to these new regulations and the limitations that came with it. I was willing to mask up to bring a change in slowing this virus down and gladly do my part to keep those around me safe. My only concern was when going out of my house. I had to be cautious about everybody around me, what I touched and who I interacted with in-person. When it came to school transitioning to distance learning, that change threw me in a loop completely.

Shaw poses for a staff portrait during her first semester at Laney College in Oakland, CA on November 6th. 2019 (Photo By Saskia Hatvany)

I had already taken some online classes prior to the lockdown but felt this change took longer to adjust. I’m an in-person learner and felt being at home created too many opportunities for procrastination. But since being an introvert, this wasn’t exactly a struggle. I was comfortable staying at home, and being in a safe environment. It did damper my experience with my education though and the work my newsroom produced. It slowed down a lot of potential projects in the works for my news publication. It was clear that everyone in the newsroom was doing their best to keep things together. 

In my personal life, a few family get-togethers had to come together through Zoom. I’m so used to interacting with my family in-person and enjoying each other’s presence, but was grateful to be able to videochat with them at the time since everyone didn’t live locally. The family gatherings we’d have before would be so inviting, the family would be over at my Uncle’s house and we’d have a small barbeque. 

Our gatherings are very fun and welcoming, since it’s so restricted now, what was once our tradition is no more. The one we’ve had over Zoom, was for an Uncle’s passing. The pandemic was still a thing when his passing happened, so we managed to gather over Zoom and was able to get a glimpse of everybody. It felt unusual due to us not having that in-person feel, but it felt great to see everyone. This change in our family gatherings did affect me because it’s a refreshing feeling to see my family since a majority don’t live locally. It still lives fresh in my mind. 

The restricted freedom we had for a year now is unproductive and feels utterly draining. Online work and learning have been exhausting for me, to say the least. Home is where I am most of the time, so the lockdown didn’t initially phase me during the first round. It affected some of my family for sure with that feeling of not being able to see everybody, as for the piece of family I live with, they’ve adjusted quite easily. The lockdown caused us to do a lot more bonding and caused us to hold onto each other as much as we can, with how chaotic it has been, it’s good to be around the ones you love before it’s too late. 

Despite the vaccine being distributed nationwide, I’m very hesitant about taking it and so is my family. As to why I’m so hesitant, it’s because I’m not too sure of what it contains and if I’d suffer any side effects. My family and I don’t trust it. I’m worried about everybody in my family contracting this virus and hearing it’s seriousness makes it even more of a hassle. My sister is younger than me, so the strength this virus has worries me completely. One of my older cousins ended up contracting the virus, but it thankfully wasn’t too serious for her. She was still able to be at home with her family and kids. I’m glad it wasn’t to the point where she would’ve had to be hospitalized. This is a worrying situation for all of us, and I’m glad my family as of now, is doing well and feeling healthy. 

For the rest of 2021, I’m taking it day by day. There has been quite a bit of change. Having the comfortability to be around people doesn’t feel the same compared to the times where this pandemic didn’t exist. There were times where I wished that I was out and about with family and back in school inside of a classroom. I’ve also developed new habits and have adapted a sleeping schedule. With the world losing so many people last year, it feels that this is the year to prioritize family bonds, take time to care for yourself, and do your best to maintain good health. There’s only so much we can do about the madness in the world but we have reasons to remain grateful to be living and to do our best to maintain a good headspace.

~~~

One Year Later is a five-part series by Citizen reporters who have been on staff since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. These stories feature their experiences over the past year and where they are now.