Mari, USA

I started working three weeks ago. Fortunately, most of the people I work with are already vaccinated or wear their masks. I think it is very important to have caution. It’s not even about yourself, but about the risk of spreading it.

I am studying as well. I go to the fine and visual arts school. Actually, before the pandemic started, I was in a design school. I wanted to stay to continue with fashion design, but then the pandemic hit. It was really hard for me because I was doing really well and all of the sudden, we all needed to go back home, even though most of us didn’t really want to. The whole scene was so sad. You would see people crying, making phone calls, packing up and moving all their stuff to their cars to drive back home. It was awful. What was supposed to be a short vacation ended up turning into this whole mess full of uncertainty.

Some people decided to take a break, but I chose not to because I was about to get to the classes I was really interested in. However, it only ended up disappointing me. Somehow this idealization I had over this college fell apart because of the way they were handling things. First, I was paying all this money just to sit in front of a computer and draw on a website that is free. Also, I would receive some shady messages from them only putting pressure without providing any help nor consideration to the chaotic context. In the end I came back to Miami and made a transfer. Actually, before getting into visual arts school I tried marketing, but I didn’t like it. I found out I’m definitely not built to force myself to do something I have no interest in.

The pandemic affected so much more than just my academic career, but it changed my whole life path, a plan I have set for myself and worked on for the last five years. I’ve never liked wandering around life. I’ve always known exactly what to do in order to achieve my goals. When I was in high school, I thought “I want to write an article” and I did it.  Right  after that I knew I wanted to be an editor in a major magazine and design my own clothes, and from that moment I started working on it in order to get there. Now I have to figure it out all over again.

Naturally, this whole situation changed my perspective in so many ways. I’ve realized that I don’t necessarily need a degree to do everything I’m planning to. Going to school doesn’t guarantee success, not even getting a job. I think that I am enough to get the things that I want for myself.

At the same time, a lot of things were going on in the world this past year. Starting with the health care system in the US. It’s amazing how such a progressive country has such a poor and inaccessible sanitary system. People were dying because they weren't allowed in hospitals. There was no more room for them. I just wonder, how many deaths could have been prevented if they had received the proper medical attention in time?

Then the George Floyd and BLM movement came. That was actually the first time I went out. I went to protest. I felt like I needed to stand up for this. It was crazy because it started out so peacefully when out of nowhere there were white people setting cars on fire and making a mess, cups throwing gas at us and the media blaming it all on the BLM activists. At that point I realized that I needed to address so many issues, both within myself and within the world.

It’s crazy to think that a year ago I was sitting in my room questioning what I should do and what was going to happen, and now I’m sitting here in the same room with more or less things figured out. I’m really grateful because if it wasn’t for this I wouldn’t be back home and I wouldn’t have realized how much I missed it until now. I started making music. That’s something I wanted to do for a long time and one day I just sat down and made things happen. I wasn’t even aware it was something that I could do.

Change is always hard, and it has always been a big challenge in my life, even before the pandemic. I’m from Venezuela so I had to move out twice because of the whole political situation there. Sometimes you have your whole future planned and then something happens, and everything shuts down. I’ve always struggled with change. It really affects me. I just hope the next time something like this happens I won’t be so let down emotionally. I don’t want to be like that. We should be all ready for change and learn from it. Sometimes, no matter how much you try, there are always going to be changes in your life.