Stephanie, Bay County

Storyteller: Heather Henry

Stephanie is 18 years old and resides with her parents. When the pandemic first began, she was employed with Panera Bread in her hometown. However, she was furloughed due to downsizing, which resulted from the pandemic. She did eventually quit to focus on school. The news of Covid-19 first reached her in February. She recalls being slightly worried due to the lack of urgency being reflected by those around her. She knew that it was going to become something bigger. Her day-to-day life became quite different when the pandemic hit. As a senior in high school, she was used to going to school and seeing her friends almost every day. It was unusual for her to have to stay home, especially with her brother and parents. It was a very strange time. She has gained much from the pandemic. She realized much about who her friends really were. Not all of the people that she had kept close were really good for her. Being in isolation allowed her to really contemplate what she wanted in her life and who she wanted in her life. She gained an understanding of what she who she wanted to be. The knowledge she gained also caused the loss of several friends. Some she fell out of contact with while others she fell out of sorts with. Stephanie misses being around people. She enjoys the alone time she has gained because it has increased her ability to take time for herself, which had not been possible before the pandemic. However, she has lost the ability to be around people. She has taken note that she has experienced a greater connection with nature throughout the pandemic. She began taking long bike rides by herself, giving her the chance to be immersed in nature and wildlife. She was able to experience humor when she began playing Animal Crossing. She enjoyed the community that emerged from this game and found humor in memes that came about from this game. It was a light-hearted experience that she felt assisted in keep her going. Stephanie has been able to take away some important lessons from the pandemic. She has learned that it is okay to be yourself and that it is also okay to let people come and go from your life. She has also found that even when the world is a horrible place, it is possible to find joy hidden in small and unexpected places.

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