The pandemic has, without a doubt, affected all of our lives — some more than others. In addition to online school, fewer work hours and social distancing, many people’s mental health took a hit adapting to the challenges and uncertainty of when things will return to “normal.” This past year has been really challenging for me, as I tend to overthink, which eventually leads me to feel stressed or overwhelmed.

A study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information about mental health during the beginning of the pandemic concludes, “Adolescents and young adults at an early epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. experienced increased depression and anxiety symptoms, particularly amongst females.”

With the solution to the pandemic seemingly out of sight, I had to learn to embrace and accept uncertainty. I am not clairvoyant. I had to be OK with the fact that I would not always know the outcome in many situations.

Last year I was having a hard time in school. I was always ready to take on a bigger load than I could handle. On top of this, I was constantly contemplating what would happen in the future. I had a lot to think about, like what I wanted to study, applying for scholarships and internships, exams and family issues. I wasn’t sure who to ask for help, as communicating with teachers was harder with online schooling. Many adolescents are going through this as well, particularly those who have just begun their high school career.

“The data suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic will have huge impacts on student learning across the world …” according to the Brookings Institute.

There are a few ways I learned to embrace uncertainty. The first one was coming to terms with the fact that overthinking and stressing about it would not change anything in the future. Let’s face it, we’re not always going to be in full control of what happens in our lives. This is something I knew was causing me to constantly feel anxious. I had to remind myself to spend time with people that care about me. The Greater Good Science Center suggests, “… surround yourself with friends, family, and communities who encourage you to reach your full potential, nurture your talents, affirm your values and difficult decisions, and give you a reality check when you’ve behaved badly or are stuck in negative thinking.”

The second one was that I became more self-aware. I came to understand that the best person to rely on was myself. I understood that no one really had the answer to my questions. There are too many possibilities for there to only be one outcome. For my own sake, I had to be the one to bring myself to the actuality that I would just have to wait and see what happens.

Self-awareness is one of the most important things when improving our character and the way we think. According to the Wright State University, “… self-awareness allows you to motivate yourself and manage your stress better, helps you with your intuitive decision making, and helps you to lead and motivate others more effectively.”

This is not to say that I no longer struggle. Every day I work to better myself, and sometimes I still get stuck in the endless cycle of overthinking. Embracing and accepting uncertainty is not an easy thing to do. It takes time and effort, and I don’t think it will ever go away completely. That being said, it is progress when we understand ourselves and have better control over the way we think.

Stephany Zambrano is a sophomore at Santa Fe High School. Contact her at stephany.zambrano24@gmail.com.

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