by Jeana Schafer, senior writing coach
Seniors, both this year’s class of 2020 and our upcoming class of 2021 seniors, this is for you.
As I sit at home for day number who’s-counting-anyways, I can’t help myself from thinking about the senior experiences that would have been happening in these very moments.
In late March, I mourned my final high school robotics season and track and field season. Through May, as IB exams were cancelled and AP exams were moved online, I felt both cheated and like I had cheated by not taking those exams as I normally would. On May 16th, my phone blew up with texts from my friends about the prom we would have been getting ready for that day.
Then there are the events that have yet to occur, but we know in our hearts they may not come to pass.
Graduation was postponed from June 9th to July 28th, but I’m finding it difficult to remain optimistic that we will be allowed a gathering in the thousands for our class of 800+ and their families to celebrate. College orientations are being cancelled and moved online. Some colleges have already moved the curriculum online for fall; others decided to open…and the rest of us wait anxiously to see if our first college experience will be on-campus or in our own homes.
Class of 2020, I am giving you a moment right now to think about everything you were looking forward to in senior year but were unable to attend or participate in or do in general. My friends, let yourself grieve.
I know unemployment rates are high. I know some people in the world are facing the pandemic without safe drinking water. I know a lot of us at this high school are privileged to have the safety of a home during this and few financial concerns that many others are facing.
But another person’s hardship does not take away from your own loss. Be charitable and kind through this, of course, but don’t invalidate your own feelings by telling yourself the things you’ve been dreaming of for the last four years—or more—are unimportant in comparison.
Are they important to you?
Then, it’s settled. Give yourself a chance to feel the loss…because hoping for something, taking for granted that it will happen, and then coming to realize that some major, unexpected event has taken it away from you? That’s hard. That’s hard for anyone. Prom and graduation may seem superficial in the grand scheme of things, but it’s the broken dreams and shattered expectations tied to those events that make them so much more difficult to miss.
As for my dear class of 2021, I want you to know that you can mourn, too. You probably loaded your junior-year schedule with some of the toughest classes you’ve taken to get colleges to notice you more. I’m sure you know most colleges are erasing this 2020 semester from their applicants’ record. I would be horrified if I were a junior through this for that very reason, and because I fear the pandemic will still be around long enough to take away some of your senior experiences as well.
It’s okay to be frustrated, sad, and scared. We all are for our own reasons.
But above all, I deeply hope that everyone will continue to dream for the future. A lot has been missed this year, but the lesson here is not that we should stop hoping and save ourselves the disappointment (where’s the joy in a world without hope?); it’s to stop taking anything for granted and roll with the punches.
With that, I wish everyone strength, health, and luck as we all move through this pandemic to the next stages of our life.
There is light at the end of this dark tunnel. Keep hoping for it.