My name is Similoluwa Adefope, and I’m currently a senior at Lithia Springs High School as well as a captain of my school’s football team. And due to the pandemic caused by the spread of COVID-19, I’m no longer able to attend school for the remainder of the year. My senior year was a “transformative emotional roller coaster.”

At the end of my senior year, I would have been in high school for six years after moving from Nigeria where I was two years ago ahead and had to go back in order to be able to get into college in the United States. Upon hearing that I will not be able to continue with the year as a senior, after waiting for so long, I was in tears. This was supposed to be it — “my senior year”, “my last hurrah!” Instead I can’t even see my teammates in person anymore. I will forever miss the locker room and all the bonding it happened in between those walls as well as the field. I miss the sound of my coach yelling as I hit my new PR, I miss the rides to games and I miss my brothers who always had my back. And even though my year had to be cut short, I am extremely grateful for everything that has happened in the past year. And I believe that the class of 2020 should be grateful for their senior year because the lesser time spent made it even more significant. In doing so, we must also utilize the opportunity we have been given.

Now that we’re all at home being bored and quarantined, there’s time for us to learn and acquire new skills for us to use as we approach these new steps in our lives.

Personally I have been taking all this time to meditate as well as look inwards and ask myself “who am I?” before the world asks me that question when I go off to college. Right now, my mother works as a CNA nurse for most of the week and isn’t at home. I have had to take care of my needs as well as that of my sisters and with this newfound responsibility, I will be able to better take care of myself when I eventually do go off to college once the quarantine is over. Another positive that comes with quarantine, is that I no longer feel the need or urge to pretend anymore. And I feel like a lot of people (especially immigrants) can relate to what I mean. I personally feel like I was not my true self when I was in high school because I was trying to fit in with everyone around me, even though my uniqueness is what makes me stand out. Being an African immigrant in an American school made me put on a fake accent and a fake personality to make sure I wasn’t “weird” or left out. But now that I’m home and no longer putting on that persona, I have blossomed over the last month in quarantine. I am now someone who doesn’t care about other people’s opinion about me and my culture. I have grown to love them both.

Over this time, I have sat down with my mother, after a full year of pretending to be American, to remind myself of who I am. I am the son of Olubukola Adefope and Olasukanmi Adefope and my name is Similoluwa, not “Semi” or “See-me” as others in school would call me but I was born and bred in Nigeria and will forever be a Nigerian. Moving to America should not have meant losing myself trying to fit in, and I lost sight of that once others who attended my school would laugh at my accent or the length of my name. But now that I am stuck with myself at home, I have come to the realization that there is no need for me to fit in because everyone else’s opinion of me in highschool doesn’t matter and never did. All that really matters now and all that really ever mattered, now that I can’t go back, is how much I was able to learn and improve over that last four years, as well as, the impact I left behind. During the quarantine, I have also learned how to take care of my natural hair that I would once try to perm to make it look more like those around me. In summary, I found myself over this “Corona-cation” and I hope that others take time to do so as well.

In all, I am grateful for those who inspired me this year to grow as well as for all the amazing memories that came with my senior year. I hope everyone understands that as long as we stay together and inside, we will make it through the pandemic and hopefully come out newly born with new skills, discovered talents or even businesses to show to the world.