There’s no other way to welcome another year of life, than to be working on your Spanish homework in a Discord call with your friends because they want to chill and play Among Us. Except, to be fair, I finished my Spanish homework with ten minutes to spare. When the clock struck twelve, the traditional song began to be sung. Some texts began to roll in, but everything was typical. Months into the pandemic, the only thing I was looking forward to was my birthday. At the same time, I really did not know what getting to the 14th of October would really mean, but for once in my life, I was ready.

These past few years, turning sixteen and fifteen, I was thankful, but along with that thankfulness was the feeling of doubt that I never wanted to put onto text. After the big surprise on my sixteenth birthday, I walked into the bathroom confused, and felt like I was going to have a panic attack. Nervously coughing at the small realization that people cared about me, chipping away at the insecurity that I am simply a nobody. No one wants to see you sad on your birthday, and when all these feelings lie on yourself, you feel pretty helpless. My friends were there to distract me, and they made me turn away from what has lingered with me since the start of pubescence. Because I remember my thirteenth birthday, I remember being scared of the future. Most certainly, I remember walking into the bathroom days before, sobbing because of what felt like a voided life. A theme I’ve experienced and have told about throughout my life, what’s new?

Because my birthday still fell on a school day, business was very much unusual. At least an upside to distance learning is that I can celebrate in my favorite sweatpants. Another upside was definitely a block schedule that made our days end at one o’clock, or three (depending on circumstances). I aced my math quiz, but granted, I think this is my third year having to deal with absolute value and polynomial inequalities. In physics, my teacher did not grade our tests yet, as Canvas slows things down on their side. En la clase de Español (In the Spanish class), tradition followed, as the entire class had to sing to me over Zoom. The microphone chaos always makes it funny, and the entire time, was me smiling. Afterwards, class was usual, and on this day, I didn’t have any meetings, so my day ended at one o’clock…

Enough about my day because what followed was me getting a cookies and cream cake (nothing’s changed, except I had to wear a mask when purchasing it), redeeming my free Starbucks drink, and going home to what seemed to be deja vu. I didn’t notice, I really didn’t notice, but someone wanted to schedule another meeting to talk about the direction of our Asian club. The ideas thrown out was great, and I didn’t understand why we needed a meeting, but nevertheless, I still bit the bullet. To be honest, the moment I knew the meeting might’ve been another ploy was when I was in the waiting room of the Zoom for so long. Because the moment I joined, my friends harmoniously sang happy birthday to me, and I was once again, shook. Everyone had to leave shortly after, as we all had something to finish, and for me, it was (even more) Spanish homework.

Turning seventeen has been equally emotional as the past years, and I often find myself asking for a break. Dealing with my own feelings about myself and others, the overall toll of school, 2020 in general has everyone gasping for more fresh air. I know I’ve changed, but I know I’ve still stayed true to myself because of the way I treat others, and the way I respond to them. Overtime, the dynamic has shifted. I equally take care of myself the same way I do to others. I’ve gained the confidence and have realized that I matter to others, and that my worth and feelings in life are valid.

Considering the current situation, the only thing I have to look forward to is for things to improve, to keep going, and to not give up or inch away from breaking whatever has kept me distanced learning efficiently. With graduation and college to look forward to next year, and one more year to prepare for adulthood, what is left for me to do is to enjoy the next months before I am finally kicked into adulthood.