I am an international student enrolled in a school in South Korea. I was supposed to go back to campus in March 2020 for my senior year after spending the winter break with family in the Philippines, but travel restrictions forced me to stay home. That meant having to cancel all my plans, which included research projects, internships, and leadership roles in organisations.
I spent the earlier part of lockdown frantically looking for new opportunities to replace the ones I had to cancel. As days passed by and nothing came up, I fell deeper into anxiety and self-pity. I started believing that I had no worth, no value, no future.
For months, I would wake up feeling hopeless and paralysed by worry, to the point that I would spend hours crying in my bed. I became irritable towards my family and even threw tantrums at times. I was jealous of friends who managed to get back to campus before the lockdown and resume their usual activities.
For a long time, I had thought that I was being a good student by getting involved in all of these co-curriculars. I did not realise that I had unconsciously formed my identity around academic achievements, which became my greatest source of joy and security. And when these were withheld from me, I felt incomplete.