2020 | Coronavirus Chronicles

Coronavirus Chronicles: Learning to let it go

‘My name is Caroline. I’m 17 years old and I’m a perfectionist.’

The essay author hiking the Billy Goat Trail

From Caroline Liu

(Editor’s note: This essay is part of Bethesda Beat’s Coronavirus Chronicles personal essay series. Visit the submission page to learn more.)

Two days before my AP English Language and Composition test, I turned in my final practice essay at 12:30 a.m.

As proud as I was of the fairly sophisticated piece I had written, my stomach dropped when I looked at the stopwatch. It had taken me 90 minutes to write an essay that I would be given 45 minutes to write on testing day.

My name is Caroline. I’m 17 years old and I’m a perfectionist.

I waste so much time each day on trivial things (like starting and restarting this essay nine times) that I have started feeling like I’m always one step behind the rest of the world, taking twice as much time to simply exist.

And then the world stopped.

When online learning began, I struggled to keep up. I struggled because my sleep-deprived teenager mind would wake up at 1 p.m. I struggled because I no longer saw my friends, who knew me and supported me in ways my family couldn’t.

My assignments were late, and in this post-lockdown world of pass or fail, some of my teachers stopped accepting late assignments altogether.

After a while though, I finally fell into a sort of rhythm.

I got up in the morning, not the afternoon. I did my homework during the week, instead of Sunday night. Most importantly, I stopped wasting time and started catching up.

When I took the AP test, I miraculously finished my essay within the 45 minutes.

I can’t say that I’ve simply stopped overthinking, but I can say that I’m more aware now of the balance between getting things done on time and getting things done my way.

If anything, the pandemic has shown me that through it all, time will go on. All you can do is let go and be swept along with it.

Caroline Liu is a rising senior at Walt Whitman High School. She lives in Bethesda.

Read other essays in the Coronavirus Chronicles series.

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