As it probably did for many people, this year, and the corona pandemic, came as quite a devastation to me at first. Particularly, because this year was what I’ve been dreaming of for all three years of high school. Every agonizing study session, every night spent drinking coffee and keeping up, and every joy I’ve passed up in order to focus, it was all going to be compensated with the excitements and wonders of college. But this year? Well, the compensation I received was full cancellations of all major events, online classes, and a unique relationship mechanism of knowing your colleagues but not ever having met them. To be honest it wasn’t a very good freshman year, and it definitely wasn’t what I had expected. All these unmet expectations accumulated into what I suspect to be the earlier stages of depression. This depression carried on until right about the beginning of June. My parents’ 25^th anniversary was in the last week of May. My older sister and I secretly put together a video comprised of old home videos that featured us as babies and even some footage of when both of us weren’t even born. While making the video and searching through decades’ worth of archived memories, a few things struck my heart. I don’t exactly understand why or even what I felt but when I looked at the early years of my parents’ marriage and how young they used to be, I felt a burst of emotions I suspect could only be described by a long complicated German word. It was like a concoction of equal parts joy and sadness plus a pinch of guilt. I felt the same way while looking through the later years as well, the years when my sister and I were born. I never knew that we travelled so much. There were hundreds and thousands of pictures of all four of us, all over the world. Looking through them one by one, my emotions became stronger and stronger. When we “premiered” the video in front of our parents after a lovely dinner, everybody ended up in tears.
Now that I’ve had some time to think about it, I think I finally understand what that feeling was. I theorize that it was the joy from reminiscing of a happy time, sadness of the realization that the present isn’t as happy, and guilt coming from the knowledge that I might be the reason why. I was very focused in high school. I set a goal towards college and shut almost everything out with my “tunnel vision”. Basically, I was always “too busy” to care about my family and after three years of taking my family for granted there I was just complaining about not being able to go off to college. Even now when I think about it I feel incredibly small. Maybe some part of me understood this at that time because starting from my parents’ anniversary, my depression slowly faded. I took more interest in my family and became less obsessed with going out and rather enjoyed the pleasure inside of home. I learned to play billiards with my dad, heard all the stories from my sister’s trip to Germany last year (hence my knowledge of long German words), and sat down and talk about school with my mother almost for the first time since middle school. Our family took spontaneous trips to the zoo or Muju or famous restaurants and I made sure never to be “too busy” again. None of it would have been possible if I had been busy at school again. On the side of the road, listening to piano music from a nearby store at the now empty Muju Resort, I couldn’t help but notice how similar our family became to the times in the pictures. I suddenly felt another burst of emotions. But this time it was a much simpler emotion: no guilt, no sadness, only enormous joy with a sprinkle of relief.
It seems impossible to find a silver-lining in such a dark cloud that is the corona virus. However, in a very personal sense, the virus presented me with the opportunity to catch up with things I didn’t even know were drifting away from me. So, though I am excited to experience all the new adventures college has waiting for me, I think I’m going to focus on home for now. I’m going to fully soak in every bit before I miss the chance, the small gap the virus gifted me. It’s pretty clear to me now that this is all the compensation I need.
Song Chan-ha (Business Admin.) 2020 Essay Contest 3rd place