Personally, I have always found that trying to see the positives in situations will get you through life, and the COVID-19 pandemic is no different. I’m a high school senior, and I’ve been looking forward to this year since I started public school. Though it hasn’t gone exactly how I planned, I am still trying to find the positives and not consider this ending to be a sad one.
Prom is canceled. I bought my dress in January because my mom was over-the-moon excited about my senior prom. After self-isolation restrictions are lifted, my friends and I are still going to take pictures, have dinner together and have the best time that we can. We can’t go downtown in our party bus or limo, like we had hoped, and dance in a nice hotel, but we can still enjoy each others’ company and dance the night away at a house. Prom doesn’t have to be about spending a ton of money on a fancy dinner and going all out. It should be about enjoying the time you have left with the people you love before we all leave for the next phase of our lives. Being in quarantine has allowed plenty of time for us to be able to try and do some planning for it that we would’ve struggled with had we been dealing with our normal schedules.
Our graduation will most likely be altered. Last year, my brother graduated in a huge stadium with the other hundreds of students in his class. My family got to cheer and scream for him when they called his name and he got his diploma. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to have that experience. But again, I have to urge myself to make light of the situation. Again, my friends and I will be doing a smaller, more intimate “graduation” where we can all wear our cap and gowns that we spent nearly $100 on and will give our own speeches. Maybe we will end up doing our own senior awards. Though I would love nothing more than to be able to share the same experiences as my brother and have my family watch as I do something that many of them didn’t get to do, I don’t need thousands of strangers watching me end my high school career. I just need the people who made my four years special and memorable, the people who made me laugh and supported me.
The free time I have gotten in quarantine made it possible for me to do as much research on my prospective colleges as possible and make my decision without ever even touring most of the campuses. I had to decide what was really important to me in a school – can I do intramural sports, is there a ramen shop nearby and will I get a good education while still being able to maintain a social life? I broke it down into about 20 nitty-gritty random things that I wanted in the place I was going to spend the next four years of my life, and I was able to confidently make my choice. I also have gotten the chance to make friends with tons of the other incoming freshmen from all over the country and got to find my roommate and really get to know her. Now I just have to hope that my freshman year will start on time and I can still go to summer orientation.
This entire outbreak is beyond awful, there’s no question about it. My heart breaks for individuals who have been personally affected by the virus in any way: through job loss, school cancellations or losing family members. The best thing to do is to stay home if you can, that’s obviously how you can help others and maintain your own health. But once you’re locked inside your house for weeks, especially as a teenager, knowing what to do to stay sane is difficult. My best advice is to stay positive and look for the little wins. Making a new recipe, reading a book you have always wanted to, finding a new hobby or even just being able to enjoy the sun. Look for ways around the negatives. If you are a senior like me, look for ways to take this year back. We came into this year expecting it to be the best, most memorable one of our teenage lives and it feels as though that’s no longer true, but it doesn’t have to be like that. Call your friends and plan your own prom and your own graduation. FaceTime them when you’re doing your schoolwork at home so you can make your lives feel as normal as possible and be able to enjoy each other’s company. Many students on social media have been voicing their distress over the pandemic ruining their school year, but I’d urge them to not let it be ruined. Rather, they should take it as an opportunity to make this the best, most unique senior year ever. And, to stay in the theme of positivity, this horrible virus has done one thing that should be considered a win: it makes seniors actually want to show up to school.