At the end of March last year, students were enjoying the warm spring air and hyping themselves up to ask that certain someone to prom. By the time April rolled around, people were wearing shorts, buying dresses and ties to wear to graduation and awards ceremonies, and getting ready for the final stretch of the school year.
This year has been a little different for students everywhere. This spring, students are wearing their pajamas to class, buying toilet paper and hand sanitizer in bulk, and readying themselves for the final term of the school year during the Covid-19 epidemic by making sure all their devices are charged and passwords are remembered.
As I scroll through my Instagram feed in between my online classes and long bouts of sitting on the couch, I see a lot of posts from high school seniors. Selfies with friends, action shots with sports teams, and advice for others to check in on seniors they know. With it being their last year in high school and the possibility of not going back to school at all, seniors are upset by all the “lasts” they are going to miss.
With the previously mentioned bouts of doing nothing, I’ve had plenty of time to evaluate my own thoughts on this subject. The conclusion is, I have very mixed feelings about having my senior year in quarantine, and these feelings differ from a lot of high school students’ opinions.
First off, I think it’s important to acknowledge something that not a lot of high school students are thinking about. While it’s a massive bummer and we’re missing a lot, we are not in the worst situation just because we are missing our last year. I saw a post during my scrolling that said “if you see a high school senior, make sure to tell them that it’s going to be okay. Give them a hug and make sure they know it’s not the end of the world.” It’s not the end of the world, not for us anyway.
I think the people who need that hug, the people who need the most support right now, are those people who are losing their jobs, the people now stuck in possibly dangerous situations at home, or the people who don’t have food. This is not to say that seniors don’t have it rough right now, but it’s important to have empathy for others in this time.
Of course, I am still a senior and wanted to have my senior spring. That other part of my brain, while worried for the safety of those in worse situations, can’t help but mourn my last year of high school. This is not the senior year that any of us signed up for and I’m sure that a lot of students are harboring negativity regarding last dance, graduation, Gotcha, and even just that last week of laid-back schooling.
Covid-19 will forever be how we define the graduating class of 2020, but whether it’s a good or bad definition is up to us. We can take this pandemic as isolation, as fear and confusion, but I believe that we are better than that.
I believe that we can take this year as a way to make us stronger, and, in a way, bring us together. This is something that no one else has had to overcome and I know that we are the perfect class to be put to the test. While it’s important to give comfort in this time and it doesn’t hurt to tell people it will be okay, I think it’s more important to remind each other that we are strong. We are unique, connected, and this is going to make us tougher for the future.
While it’s plenty easy to just say that we’re connected and strong, in order to actually believe it, it’s important to take a step back and look at some of the lessons learned so far. I have found myself saying “I’m bored” or “I miss people”, which are completely normal things to think during this time. However, I’ve also found that saying these things has made me reevaluate the way I’m looking at life.
The first lesson I’ve learned is empathy. Empathy is something I like to think I’ve always had, but when the whole world is struggling, I am more conscious of others than I ever have been. As teenagers, it’s hard to think about other people when we are focused on our whole lives being ahead of us, but hopefully this epidemic is teaching everyone. This lesson is one of the reasons we are more connected than ever, not physically, but by mind and heart.
Another lesson that this spring has taught me is how important relationships really are, and that good relationships, no matter how hard or far away, are worth nurturing and growing. While it may seem difficult to keep relationships up when you can’t see anyone, I think this is a good time to step back and look at how you interact with others. Remember that keeping relationships strong during the “impossible” will make them even more unbreakable when we can finally all stand less than six feet apart.
These are the lessons I’ve learned in my isolation, but when you have a moment, step back and take a look at your own few weeks in quarantine and think about the lessons you’ve learned yourself because they might make it a little easier to get through however many days we have left at home. Once we experience life from this new perspective, it is easier for us to adapt and grow.
It’s okay to mourn your senior year, it’s okay if you’re stressed or anxious, and it’s okay if things are scary right now. Just try your best to remember that there is a silver lining to staying home all day every day. Luckily for us, while the world is full of viruses and uncertainty, it’s also full of new things to appreciate with your free time. There are movies, new hobbies, watching dogs on walks. There’s star gazing, cooking, Skype, and flowers in the yard. There’s so much good in the world and luckily, now we have the time to find it.