From 18 to 20 during a global pandemic

Maria Tobin
5 min readMay 22, 2021

Leaving my teen years with a new perspective

Thinking about what’s to come / York Redoubt National Historic Site / January 2021

I remember being told this was where I’m going to spend most of my time over the next two years as I walked into my colleges editing suites. Little did I, and the person sharing that idea know, those editing suites were indeed not where I was going to spend the majority of my time for the next two years.

March 13 2020: The day the world officially flipped inside out and back again. I remember walking through Disney Springs with my family as we questioned what was going on and what isolation means for when we return home.

We were pretty silent, I was mad because my 19th birthday was right around the corner and I knew that I wasn’t going to be celebrating how I imagined I would.

We got in the car and headed to Epcot. We made a pact that despite the unfamiliar vocabulary being thrown around, we were going to enjoy our first family vacation together because at the end of the day, we were in Disney — The most magical place on earth.

Family pact / Orlando, Florida / March 2020

Time passed and I celebrated my birthday in quarantine, school adjusted to online learning and I didn’t go on the planned Tanzania internship. I couldn’t hug my friends for months, birthday wishes were made virtually, and terms like “unprecedented times” and “transmission” became apart of my everyday dictionary.

I chuckle as I look back to when I thought this lifestyle would only be for a short period of time.

In July 2020 I moved into my first apartment with two roommates. Some restrictions had been lifted and it provided a sense of normalcy. We couldn’t see the place before moving in, just hoped for the best and made it worth our while.

Soon enough classes were back in session, virtually for the most part. Being a journalism student, online classes are difficult when hands on learning is key.

I would wake up each morning and join the teams meeting from my living room with a cup of coffee instead of a to-go mug. I would wrap myself up in a blanket with my notebook by my side instead of wearing a pair of jeans and sitting at a desk surrounded by my peers.

The days where we got to go on campus were the days everyone felt a sense of peace and maybe the slight adrenaline rush that we were looking for. For those of us lucky enough to do an internship, remote meant your bedroom is the newsroom. This is how we finished our second and final year of studies.

Prep for Zoom meetings / December 2020

I’m 20 now. I haven’t stepped foot into that editing suite since I was 18 and now that I have completed the program, I probably never will. I moved to bigger apartment with a different roommate on the other side of the harbour. I began my career in March, one month before the last day of classes.

The global pandemic is ongoing, but vaccine distribution (once rare vocabulary) is rising.

I could share all the things I may have missed out on (say it with me) because of COVID, but truth is — I didn’t miss a thing.

I still turned 19, I still gained skills to become a journalist, I still talk to my friends and hug them any chance I get, I still moved out on my own, I still made my first short documentary, I still get to walk into a newsroom everyday, I still get to sing happy birthday to loved ones, but most of all — I still smiled.

The trick to accepting change is understanding how to adapt. If there is anything I learned since I was 18 it would be just that. Change is inevitable, we can either complain and worry about it, or we can adapt and adjust to it.

Sure, I didn’t get to go on the Tanzania internship, but thats because I wasn’t supposed to go then. There’s something bigger out there for me — I wouldn’t have known this unless all of these new words became apart of our everyday conversation.

We never know what the next day may bring, but we can always count on what we have in this exact moment.

We have love and if you don’t feel it, just trust me that its there. We have sunrises and sunsets. We have music, books, television shows, and movies. We have animals, family, friends, mentors, and teachers. We have plants, sand, water, rocks, and trees.

Champagne birthday celebrations / Taking in the moment / March 2021

Most of all — you have you, just like how I have me. During these unprecedented times you probably questioned something you’ve been passionate about and you also probably found a reason as to why you continue to pursue those passions.

These are all things that make you, you. One thing you can always count on because no matter what tomorrow brings, you always have yourself and you always have your smile.

So, if you chose to complain about things you think you missed out on over the past year, allow this to be a reminder that you simply didn’t miss a thing. Whatever this moment may bring is exactly what it is supposed to be.

With that being said, from being 18 going into this pandemic and now 20 as the light at the end of the tunnel shines a little brighter, I learned the difference between existing and living in a world not one single person can control.

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