Dear COVID: Be true, even if it’s difficult

“Dear COVID” is this year’s senior column series in which Hook seniors share their reflections on high school and the pandemic in the form of letters to the virus itself.

Dear COVID, 

You tried to isolate me from the world, but did you know true isolation is something else altogether? The lessons I learned in school before quarantine were the best preparation possible for a worldwide pandemic.

Be true and be determined. I heard this phrase throughout my career as a student, but I didn’t truly understand it for the longest time.

Be true before anything else. Being true means different things to different people. To me, it means accepting all of who I am, the good and the bad, while working to be better all the while.

Before my realization junior year, I was closed off in ways I don’t even understand to this day. While I was still amiable and hard working, I never had any true friends. No one to talk to about the hard or messy stuff. That all changed in an instant.

One day, one of my now good friends astutely got up from her seat looked me in the eye and said, “Tell me a secret” and I told her I was gay. While it wasn’t something that should have affected me at such a deep level, just getting it off my chest gave me a new understanding of freedom. While my immediate family had known for years, no one beyond that knew. I was working so hard trying to convince myself that this part of me didn’t matter that my stubbornness had morphed into something I didn’t want and didn’t even know was there. 

Don’t follow in my footsteps and learn the hard way. Be true. To yourself, to those you care about and even those you don’t. If someone’s going to judge you, they should at least have the right idea.

After you figure out who you are, then your determination can truly shine. 

During summer training for cross country my junior year, we ran 3-6 miles a day. After about a month of workouts, my left foot started throbbing whenever I ran. A week earlier, I had tripped and fell on a root. As this happens about 10 times a season, I just got back up and kept running. And then the unthinkable happened. I was running on the same trail, and slammed that same toe into a different root 50 feet from the one I had hit it on the first time.

While I didn’t know it at the time, I had broken my big toe horribly. Unfortunately, I was hopelessly stubborn and determined to do my best that I ran on a broken toe. For a month. 

Right at the start of the regular season, I couldn’t take it anymore. I finally went to the doctor and learned the truth. I was then out for the entire regular season. My determination had turned into disaster before my eyes.

The same injury caused another unforeseen circumstance the next season which made an already short season due to covid more painful than it needed to be.

Once again, I learned my lesson the hard way.  There’s a thin line between determination and stubbornness, and it’s your job to find the balance.

So I say it again. Be true and be determined. A phrase with meanings that evolve with experience is one not easily forgotten. If you work hard to be yourself, the possibilities are endless.

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