The late winter is the busiest time for me a student. It’s a time in the year where I am always running from school to extracurricular activities.

I did not finish my homework until late at night, already dreading waking up early for the next school day.

I was busy with a speech or show choir competition every single weekend.

In March, school began to wind down. I was looking forward to spending the rest of my sophomore year going to prom and competing at district speech and (hopefully) state.

With the majority of the school year behind me, I could barely wait for everything I had planned for the summer.

I was so used to being busy and having something to do at all hours of the day. That all came to a grinding halt on March 13.

Then the reality of this situation hit me square in the face. Within a period of 24 hours, school was canceled for the foreseeable future. Following that was a wave of anxiety and uncertainty.

As the days went on, more cancellations rolled in. Everything I had been looking forward to disappeared right in front of my eyes.

While I was (and am still) grateful that my family and friends are healthy, I felt an overwhelming sadness.

When I saw healthcare professionals risking their lives, I couldn’t help but feel selfish and guilty for being sad about the changes in my life.

Yet, it’s important that we all remember that it is OK to grieve what we have lost, for a little bit.

For the first few weeks, my negative thoughts and anxiety felt inescapable. I’ve always been a person who plans out days, weeks, even months in advance, and not being able to plan was driving me crazy.

My perspective on this changed during a conversation with my older sister.

I was complaining that I had wasted my entire year of school and that I had gotten nothing accomplished. She reminded me of how I had grown as a person, and that I should not be disappointed with the year.

She still doesn’t know it, but that changed the way I think completely. It dragged me out of my negative head space and made me want to get used to my new normal.

For me, the best part of this has been that my new normal has caused me to improve my mental and physical health.

While it has been a big change, I now value my days spent on Google Classroom, excited to work through a new English assignment.

My heart warms every time I get to check up on my friends through a FaceTime call.

I’ve started to love taking my dogs on a walk with the rest of my family. I’ve settled into a new routine, even though I don’t know how long it will last, I’m OK with that. This has caused me to reflect on who I am, the opportunities I have and the kind of person I want to be.

Of course, not every day is perfect, and it doesn’t have to be. We’re all living in a weird time and we all have to adjust.

None of us could have predicted that this would happen, but it’s our reality, so let’s make the best of it.

Kaleigh Zollman is a sophomore at Gretna High School. She is the online editor for gretnamedia.com and is a staff reporter for The Voice school newspaper. When she is not working on journalism, she is a member of the show choir and speech team. After high school, she hopes to study journalism in college.

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