Pandemic Teaches Us Not to Take Anyhting for Granted: A High Schooler's Perspective on COVID-19
Updated: Apr 5
Originally published as a commentary in The Post & Courier, May 19, 2020 (https://www.postandcourier.com/opinion/commentary/commentary-pandemic-teaches-us-not-to-take-anything-for-granted/article_c562f9f0-9151-11ea-a2c0-732e051674cc.html)
Remember the start of last December? I do. I was stringing lights on our Christmas tree, excitedly thinking about my birthday ahead, and feeling mild stress for my upcoming midterms. There were rumblings of a new infectious disease in China; however, my life was no more than usual. If you had told me then, that soon, I wouldn’t be able to leave my house for six weeks, would switch online school, or that I would be sitting here typing this, I probably would have laughed and told you to get your head checked. I look back on those days now, wishing I could relive the blissful unawareness of the immediate future.
So, let’s address the elephant in the room, or as we lovingly call it, COVID-19. The pandemic hasn’t just affected our screen-time averages. It’s disrupted us in so many other ways. Freshmen are unable to experience their first full year of high school, missing the experience of going into their sophomore year. For juniors, it’s the college process that is disrupted. What about those wanting athletic scholarships? Let’s not even mention the SAT. As of right now, the future is uncertain. Seniors may have it the worst: it’s their last year of high school - the one where they are supposed to be making the most memories, having their last prom, and saying their final goodbyes. And what about graduation itself? An online diploma seems to be the only prospect. For sophomores such as myself, there isn’t as much impending doom. But consider this: we’ll most likely be in and out of quarantine for the next year, and experts are predicting a second wave in the fall. The start of junior year is a defining period, it’s a time to either rise or fall short to the challenges of the SAT and AP classes. While sophomores may not be as affected as other classes, next year could be the big bad wolf. All around, I’d say it’s rough all over.
Besides school, what about relationships? In terms of dating, it’s harder to keep a relationship going under quarantine. Facetime is always an option, but it’s really not the same. It’s been difficult for many people, some of my friends have felt it too. As for friends, you may find yourself not talking to them as much, even though you are doing virtually nothing. Now, it’s easier to feel distanced because you are not seeing them everyday at school. It’s tough.
And what about summer? All of us had plans. It may have been vacation, touring colleges, playing sports, working a summer job, or just hanging with friends at the beach. But right now, the world is basically implying to get ready for a summer filled with staring at the kitchen walls.
I sometimes think about how unlucky I am to be caught up in the middle of the pandemic. But I then remember that this isn’t a problem that pertains to just me, or just Charleston, or just South Carolina. It’s not a hurricane that only the low-country must worry about. This is a global pandemic. However, even with its devastation, there are positives. People are getting to spend more time with their families. It’s not everyday that parents have absolutely nothing to do. I’ve also recently seen neighbors being more amicable - greeting strangers while side-stepping the pavements to maintain the social distancing guidelines. The pandemic has unwrapped a community spirit. I think we’ve all realized that we are in this together and that cooperation is needed.
For high schoolers, it’s a time to reflect on what can be achieved without a fixed schedule. It’s also an important lesson not to take school or anything else in life for granted. After all, life as we know it could alter overnight. Who are we to say otherwise?