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2023 – Lydia McMaster – HWRA – Beaver HS

Mar 22, 2023

Coping in a New World

One of the most difficult times in my life was when I lived in Saudi Arabia. The world doesn’t stop for anyone, even if that someone is a 14 year old girl caught in the crossfire of a war she doesn’t know about, thousands of miles away from home on a tiny American compound in Saudi Arabia. When my parents moved our entire family to teach at an embassy, they didn’t mention that the Middle East was (and still is) torn by war. In their defense, they couldn’t have known that the COVID-19 virus would make its way across Western Asia, making every aspect of my new life in a new country as tumultuous as possible. First came the new school environment, full of new people and new experiences I wasn’t prepared for. Just as I acclimated to the culture shock, the COVID pandemic shut down my school and I had to go to school in a different time zone. From midnight to 5 am, I attended my classes as best I could. During the day, I slept and worried about how the virus would affect my shaky grasp on the world around me.
Then the bomb threats started. Yemen, engaged in an extant civil war and angered by Saudi Arabia, became a concern to the embassy. Suddenly, we had more active shooter drills than ever before. Death was a real possibility that all of us had to face. Thanks to the pandemic, we couldn’t consider leaving. Anxiety came and went, only to be replaced by the perpetual gloom of quarantine. This is by no means a bid for attention, but I soon found that I was depressed. Anyone in my situation, confronted by fear and numbing isolation, would likely feel the same. The only way I managed to cope was music, my only connection to the outside world. I listened constantly, sometimes to the same songs on repeat until my worries disappeared and I would finally feel a connection to something that wasn’t war or disease. I even wrote my own songs as a means of forcing my negative emotions outside. While they aren’t anything exciting or revolutionary, they are my experiences summarized in three or so chords and a handful of words that rhyme. Music emboldened me to be able to cope, both then and in the present day.

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