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A personal narrative about how COVID-19 forced an unexpected homecoming and how we cannot go through it alone.

When I graduated high school in the spring of 2018, I told myself I would never come back to my hometown of Brentwood, California. It was not because it was a terrible place to live. This city gave me a great childhood and friends that I will never forget. Simply put, I was ready to move on and experience a fresh start elsewhere.

Stepping onto the college campus that fall, I finally felt like an adult. Sure, there were times when it was hard to adjust and plenty of mistakes were made, but this was the first time in my life there was a sense of independence. I enjoyed that feeling so much that I decided to completely move out and live in Azusa after my freshman year. Things were going great, my parents were proud of me and I was enjoying another year of college.

That was, until this past March.

I was well aware of the seriousness of the pandemic at the time. It was dangerous and precautions needed to be taken, but going back home was never an option for me. So when I got the call from my mother that our county was on lockdown, my pride was shattered. Nevertheless, I respected her wishes for me to return home.

Arriving back home was such a disappointing feeling. My parents and younger brothers were so happy to have me back home but it felt so wrong to be there. A week ago I was living out my parents’ expectations of putting myself through college, working and being independent. 

Now I am spending my free time looking for work — my job at school was not an option for a stable income. I went from renting my own living space to sharing a bunk bed with my 13-year-old brother. I loved spending time with my family, but I couldn’t help feeling like I was letting them down.

Those first couple of months in quarantine were difficult to get through. Trying to stay motivated with distanced learning and worrying about my father’s safety as an essential worker took its toll. I felt like a stranger to my brothers — this was the first time we were spending quality time together in the past two years, and I had a lot of catching up to do. 

The worst part by far was the isolation.

 As someone who has been battling depression for the past five years, the last thing I wanted to do was be alone with my thoughts. Being the oldest, there was a reluctance to share my mental health with my family because I did not want to be an added burden. Thankfully, I am blessed to have a mother that saw through my facade and guided me to the help I needed. 

Today, I am still living at home but doing a lot better. Yes, there are days that are hard to get through, but it makes it a lot more bearable to have a community. There are lots of students and even faculty at Azusa Pacific that are now in situations they did not want or expect. It is okay to feel frustrated and upset about the current circumstances, but please do not go through the battle alone.