I’ve written once before about getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and the complexities that it held for me. After living through a pandemic for two years, I am writing again because I have tested positive for COVID-19. 

"Testing positive on Christmas Eve meant our plans for the holidays were instantly different."

— Elaina Youngberg

When I woke up on Dec. 23 with a sore throat, I tied it back to an allergic reaction I had the night before. However, by noon my partner messaged to say he had a fever. By the evening, I had a small cough and felt exhausted. I proceeded to self-isolate at my partner’s home. The next morning, we both tested positive. 

Testing positive on Christmas Eve meant our plans for the holidays were instantly different. We could not spend Christmas day with our families, but since they also decided to quarantine, they weren’t seeing anyone either. The majority of Christmas was spent in bed until late afternoon when a walk was deemed necessary for our mental health. 

Missing Christmas was difficult, but as an introvert, saying I couldn’t see anyone for ten days was really exciting. While I normally would have spent the holidays meeting up with friends and family, being sick allowed me to learn how to make homemade noodles and to eat way too many cookies for someone in my condition. 

The silver lining of isolation was feeling like I was rested and ready to take life on, especially considering I was in my last semester. 

COVID-19 was physically challenging because I experienced symptoms. On the other hand, it was emotionally difficult because I missed out on a lot I had been looking forward to. 

However I learned a lot, the most obvious being that booster vaccines really do help. I had mine, but my partner didn’t have his. He had a fever and was miserable, while I essentially had a cold and a lot of fatigue. I was so glad that we didn’t have worse symptoms that could have put us in the hospital. 

Another lesson I gained included learning to be a better keeper on my energy. It was so refreshing to see less people, and I need that more often. 

Lastly, I realized just how burned out I was. At the end of the fall semester, my therapist had told me to say no to everything I possibly could because I was drowning in anxiety. I hadn’t been able to understand the importance of her advice until I allowed myself to fully rest because I had no other option. I hope others can rest without getting COVID-19 because although it was much needed, I could have gone without being sick. 

Our experience with COVID-19 has shifted since 2020 due to vaccines, access to masks, and now new variants of the virus. When I tested positive, I had no clue where I could have been exposed, and a month later I still have no idea. 

Many of my peers tested positive over winter break due to the Omicron variant. Conversations with them lead me to think that unknown exposure was a common experience in many of the cases. 

I have also noticed that cases in the people around me seem to be less severe than they were months ago, and I see that as a result of the vaccination rates in my immediate community, including Goshen College. 

Vaccines have created hard conversations for many people and for others questions about what sources of information are accurate.

My experience with COVID-19 and the stories I’ve heard from peers all aligned with what the medical community has said to be true about the virus, including the variants, and what to expect with infection.

With that being said, I have come out of the experience with a deepened trust in the medical community and a renewed respect for the GC COVID-19 policies.