A year of quiet courage

SUCCESS... Shepparton's Ash Tyagi faced many challenges through 2020 as a Year 12 student. Photo: Steve Hutcheson

By Ash Tyagi
UNPRECEDENTED. Uncertain. Uncharted. 2020 has been just this for all of us. But as Year 12 students on the cusp of finishing our school journey, COVID-19 was an especially unwelcome shock that stood in stark opposition to everything we thought our final year was going to be.

In a time when suffering was so immense and so widespread, we felt lost. With each lockdown, each change in restrictions and each human cost, our Year 12 experience got further and further away from our expectations.
A newfound appreciation emerged for the simple, taken-for-granted experiences of going to school, learning in a classroom and going out with friends through the lens of remote learning.

About two months before my VCE exams, my family, unfortunately, experienced several losses due to COVID-19. The human implication of the pandemic suddenly materialised in front of me, and it startlingly took the form of my aunt and uncle.
This was something I had simply never even thought of, and during this time, I really did struggle. It was tough and I was finding it difficult to cope with the jarring reality of Coronavirus.

And there was no magic fix-it button. No simple solution. It took time and it took perseverance but gratefully, I had access to great support systems through my family, friends and teachers. Little by little, I found myself being able to cope. There still were bad days, and some that were less bad.

During this testing time, I finally appreciated the transformative power of two things. First, seeking help and second, trying: truly attempting the best that you can every day, even if it is not as good as your best was yesterday. Even if all you can manage today is getting up and taking care of yourself.

My take from the year is that trying to the best of your abilities every day is as close to excellence as you can get. Your best, at the end of the day, is all you can do and all that can be expected of you. Like writer and artist, Mary Anne Radmacher, said, “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying that I will try again tomorrow”.

Last year has been undoubtedly difficult and it will go down in history for all of its losses.
Yet, despite its shortcomings, it has made us persistent, resilient and hopeful for a better tomorrow.

The Class of 2020 was not the Class of Corona, we were the Class in spite of Corona.
Ashima Tyagi is a 17-year-old student from Goulburn Valley Grammar School in Shepparton. Ash has recently completed Year 12 in 2020, achieving an ATAR of 99.6 as the school’s dux. She has accepted an offer to study Medicine at Monash University, Melbourne in 2021.