“Out of a Crisis: The Voices of Our Students” is a new series, launched by the Globe’s Great Divide team, that publishes student essays, poems, artwork, and videos featuring teenage perspectives on learning and living amid a pandemic. The stories are published in the Great Divide newsletter.
About the author: Khaiyrah Herrera is homeschooled and is in eighth grade.
I am homeschooled. But COVID hit me hard, too
For fourteen, mostly happy years of my life, I have done school from home. Many people get the impression that my way of learning and life in general has not changed since the COVID-19 outbreak, but that is completely untrue. While I am truly grateful that my family has not suffered severe illness, death, or joblessness, I have been hit with other sorts of challenges that I’m struggling to cope with. My life has changed drastically, just like everyone else’s.
First off, I rarely get outside to socialize. Before the outbreak, I often attended classes and study sessions with my siblings, friends, and extended family members. Now, I attend one socially distanced class a week with my siblings. Recently, I’ve had to miss even that class, because a family member was awaiting a COVID-19 test result that thankfully came back negative.
I am introverted by nature, but I really enjoy spending time with my small group of friends. It’s been quite tough now that I don’t get to see friends much. Lately, I haven’t had much of a chance to talk with teens my age, so I feel like my social skills are slipping.
But while my outside life is quite dull, my family life is as social and hectic as ever.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, my father worked outside the house, and my older brother and sister had jobs and often went out with friends, giving me time to myself. Now, I have close to zero time and space to myself. I live in a very small apartment with more than eight family members. My mom just had a baby in early September, which has given me even more responsibility and stress.
My learning has become very unorganized. I can go from buckling down and trying to complete a math test to trying to soothe an infant and prepare meals for my younger siblings in a matter of minutes.
During lockdown, my mental health and patience has gone downhill at an alarmingly fast rate. With so many siblings living in a small space, I really cherish time to myself. When I’m around my family too much, I sometimes feel like I can’t breathe. My family is loud and things escalate too much, and I feel like I’m going to burst into a bunch of tiny smithereens. All the pressure of the noise and activity is so overwhelming sometimes. I am the type of person who likes to be in silence and loves doing things on my own time. But now, with my father home and a new baby, things are unpredictable, and I can’t really plan out my day without my “plan” getting ruined.
One thing I miss the most about pre-COVID days is the library. The library is like my second home because I absolutely LOVE reading and browsing bookshelves, discovering endless new authors and books. I used to go to the library weekly, sometimes more. While there, I had my own lovely quiet place without distractions. It was a much needed respite from my normally bustling household. Now, I don’t really have much of a break.