Making the Most of the Mundane

Willow Volkert, Guest Columnist

The following is a column submitted by senior Willow Volkert. Want to share an opinion of your own? Send an op-ed to [email protected].

Willow Volkert, Guest Columnist

I sit here in my kitchen looking back at my high school experience. I think of the rollercoaster of self-identity, of discovering my true friends, realizing my passions, and learning how to navigate the murky waters of high school drama. Those ups and downs have come to a grinding halt, and it’s strange to realize that it’s permanent. Those feelings of pure joy as you scream your favorite song in the car with your best friends, of anxiety before a final or AP exam, or of loneliness when you’re not invited to something. They were all moments of self-identity, little pieces that had created a puzzle of who I was. 

These moments were stepping stones that have helped me determine who I am and who I aspire to be. I will never forget dancing like no one was watching to “September” on the 21st night of September, or jumping up and down in the bleachers as the Scouts got a touchdown. I’ll never forget the feeling of scoring a game-winning goal, or of crying when my friends got into their dream schools. 

These moments were blessings that I will forever hold close to me. I was excited to create the last of them as my high school experience came to a close and have my own coming-of-age teen movie finally be complete, but a pandemic stole what I thought were those last few pieces in my puzzle. I wouldn’t get a last hurrah with my friends, or a red carpet to walk down. I wouldn’t get to feel the exhilaration of shooting someone with a Nerf gun, and maybe not even the closure of my high school experience: wearing a blue cap and gown and walking across the stage at graduation.

But those picture-perfect scenes that I am going to lose is not what I am the most forlorn about. Over quarantine I’ve realized that something far more important than a few closing scenes is missing in my film of self-identity. I have forgotten to remember the moments of normalcy: the transition scenes, the background, and ordinary instances.

 I was so wrapped up in finding the moments of glorious exuberance that I didn’t think to soak in what I had always seen as unoriginal. However, as I plead for the end of my high school career to return, these run-of-the-mill moments that I always took for granted are what I miss the most. 

I miss the ten minute passing periods in the upper commons, I miss the awkward smiles you give to people you don’t know in the halls, I miss doodling in class wishing I was anywhere else, and most of all I miss joking around with my teachers and friends. 

Honestly, I would give anything to be back in 6th period AP Gov with Mrs. Kyrias to hear her sing and jump around the classroom as she teaches. I would give anything to have those last few minutes of 8th period to joke around with friends, or to be annoyed at my neighbor for being late on our way to school. 

I never thought I would care about these moments of routine, of daily life, but now they’re all I think about. It leaves me in awe to reminisce about how many times I complained about what I thought was an unremarkable weekday, or how many times I looked at the clock wishing it moved a little faster. How could I be so unaware of how special my ordinary life really was? How did I not realize the value of having face-to-face interaction, a quality education, and a routine?

We spend so much of our lives waiting for the next grand moment, waiting for the next piece to fit into our puzzle of who we are, but what this quarantine has taught me is that by only savoring those remarkable moments, you are denying yourself the majority of your life experience. I’ve realized that by impatiently waiting for the days of normalcy to end, you are cutting yourself off to all of the little things that life has to offer. 

Yes, the quintessential moments that will be featured in your coming-of-age movie are important, but that is not the entirety of your high school experience. More often than not, there is just as much joy to be found in the little things.”

Yes, the quintessential moments that will be featured in your coming-of-age movie are important, but that is not the entirety of your high school experience. More often than not, there is just as much joy to be found in the little things. Just as many life lessons and memorable moments are hidden throughout your routine, and you only have to look a little deeper to find them.

This quarantine has given me an appreciation for normalcy. It has reminded me of the joy of living such a blessed life in a community filled with wonderful friends and educators, even if it seems mundane in the moment. I took these moments for granted my entire high school career, and only realized their importance when I couldn’t have them.

I wish I had complained a little less, and instead thought about what that moment was teaching me. I wish I had spent a little less time zoning out and waiting for the clock to strike 3:20, and more time being grateful for the fact that I had the opportunity to learn about the world around me. I wish I had spent less time looking at my phone to escape reality, and more time enjoying the presence of my peers. 

A two months ago, I could’ve complained for hours about how much I wished I had a break from school and my normal life, but now that it’s gone I am astounded that I could ever think that. But that’s the thing with life, you never know what’s most important to you until you can no longer have it. I never thought that I would say I miss waking up early, or the moments before your teacher hands you a test. I never thought I would miss giving people rides to remote, or my stressful schedule. But I do. 

I’ve missed my opportunity to make the most of the mundane in high school. I’ve realized we can take nothing for granted, and due to that should be eternally grateful for everything we have. However, all because we’ve realized how much our normal life means to us does not mean we have to sulk about it. Instead, we must listen to our own regrets and enjoy a new type of mundane- one filled with self-reflection and self-fulfillment. 

Quarantine has given me the opportunity to pay more attention to different facets of my life. It has allowed me to stop and admire the little things I normally wouldn’t notice with my busy lifestyle: birds singing in the morning, sitting outside soaking in the sunshine, the fuzzy feeling after finishing a great book, walks with my siblings, and even reorganizing my room. In a way, COVID-19 has given us something truly remarkable: time to step back and truly contemplate your life as a whole and how it can be improved. Who knows, maybe you’ll come out of this with a new passion, or stronger family life. You might reconnect with old friends, or perhaps even determine what constitutes a life worth living.