Joining clubs changed my life


Graphic courtesy of Canva.

Bek Lopez, Managing Editor

This previously ran in our December 2022 print issue.

  Two years ago, none of us could have expected what COVID-19 wrought on our society. 

     It kept us apart, separating us from friends and any possible connections. It affected just about everything in terms of how we live our lives. School was suddenly on a computer, and going anywhere without a mask was completely outrageous. 

     Trying to imagine COVID-19 during the early 2000s would’ve been seen as post-apocalyptic. Pre-COVID-19 felt like an entirely different time period and now that it’s over, we’re still recovering from that lost time. 

     Two years doesn’t seem like much in retrospect, but it felt like a decade. Before COVID-19, I was excited to finally go to high school with the promise of social activities and extracurriculars, but then the pandemic ruined all of that. Those two years were pretty empty, doing nothing but staying at home and missing my friends. The world itself just felt out of reach, at a distance. 

     Now, a year post-COVID-19, I’m still working through some of the long-term effects COVID left in its wake. 

     Last year, I really struggled with socializing and being around large groups of people. My social skills suffered with quarantine and isolation, and it took some time to get back to a level where I was comfortable being around people.  Like a lot of people over quarantine, I developed social anxiety and an overall awkwardness when it came to being around people, especially in large groups. Last year was like a recovery year for most of us, a bridge back to the normal lives we had before COVID-19. Now I’m an upperclassman, and I decided I wasn’t going to watch my life go by from the comfort of my bed. 

      This year I finally decided to get back out there and be a part of the world again, and before now, I never realized how much I was missing. I pushed myself to partake in extracurriculars, and it was the best decision of my life. Joining clubs brought out the best in me, and I rediscovered parts of myself that had been buried under masks and hand sanitizer. Being a part of a group, something beyond myself, unlocked something in me. 

     The most beautiful thing was that I didn’t know what I’d been missing. I forgot what I’d lost, and now I’ve discovered it again like it’s new. We often underestimate how much we need human connection, especially after coming back from being in our bedrooms and not seeing friends and socializing for months on end. Even for introverts like myself, we need some socializing, whether it’s hanging around the house or going to a small get-together. The social aspect of life is an important factor to happiness that we as a society often neglect. Ironic, isn’t it? 

      I craved that over these years and only found it when I joined clubs and extracurriculars. 

     It’s a miraculous thing, being a part of something like that. This school offers a great variety of clubs, everything from chess to theater to Ski & Ride club. There’s so much to do and be a part of. I lost the past two years, and it took some time for me to figure out that’s what I needed to be a normal human again. It’s a universal constant; the need for human interaction, and it was like the missing key in my life, the final piece to my happiness. Clubs really do offer an outlet for students to gather and meet with common interests and hobbies. 

     Take the Art Club, for example. That’s a perfect club if you’re an artist or even just interested in the arts and want to improve. With this club, you can surround yourself with people who enjoy art as much as you, and can teach you ways to improve. Clubs like that allow you to socialize with people your age in a safe space. Where else would you find that type of opportunity? 

     There are also academic clubs such as Mock Trial and Chess Club that test and  and allow you to collaborate with others to better yourself. 

     Emmaus has dozens of clubs that cater to all types of students, whether you’re prone to more physically demanding extracurriculars such as Fitness Club, or if you prefer spending your time learning about other cultures, like the French, Spanish, German, or World Cultures club. With all this diversity in after school activities, it would be easy for someone like me to find a place to hang out. Not only do you meet new people you otherwise wouldn’t see in daily classes, you gain a sense of belonging that comes with being part of a collective group. 

    I’ve met so many new people and experienced new things that when I stop and take a moment to look back at myself a year ago, I wonder if I was even the same person. If you know me now you wouldn’t recognize me during COVID-19 and it makes sense considering all that I’ve lost (and gained) since then. Now, I’m more alive than ever, and all it took was staying after school. Imagine that.