It’s All About Us

As we approach the end of the 2019-2020 school year, we send our seniors off to college and we say goodbye to the remaining student body until next September. However, this year we perform these normal rituals in a completely new way, to put it mildly. The Coronavirus Pandemic has plagued the human race on a global scale and we as a nation have suffered death, rising economic depression, and large strains on our emotional well-being at a faster and scarier rate than ever before. We as a nation have been in “quarantine” or global shut down for almost three full months now, in order to protect our own health and the health of those around us, but with that, we have been isolated from our families and friends, from our schools and our places of worship for far longer than any of us could have planned. But, instead of driving ourselves stir crazy, wondering when we will return to school and stop virtual lessons, when we will play sports, be on stage, pray together, hug one another, and be with everyone again, we need to be taking advantage of this strange and, God willing, once in a lifetime experience.

I am definitely not innocent when it comes to complaining about being in quarantine, missing my friends and family, sports, shopping, vacations, all of the normal things that most of us in Park Ridge are really missing right now. But the more time I have spent thinking about what I miss, the more I realize how lucky I am that I have personally not been affected by the virus. We as teenagers today often base a lot of what we say and do on how we feel. It’s always “I feel this” or “I feel that”, but we don’t often take the time to step into others shoes and feel what they might be feeling. We are in quarantine because a virus is destroying the lives of many innocent people, whether it comes to their health or their financial positions. So instead of worrying about all we have missed out on and all we can’t have right now, try and take the time to reflect and remember how lucky you are, no matter how your life has changed since this all started.

Quarantine has unfortunately put all of the faculty and student body behind their computer screens for the rest of the school year. Indeed, this is hard for all of us having to teach or learn without the physical presence of a teacher or a student. However, for high schoolers, there are a lot of benefits to this that not many take notice too. Around 45% of teens report that they are stressed out all time, 44% of teens say that their most common outlet for feeling stressed and anxious are apps on their cell phones or other online resources, and 85% of high school students do not get enough sleep every night. Quarantine may not be able to solve these social and personal problems, but isolation has uniquely granted all of us, students and teachers, an exorbitant amount of free time that we can choose to devote to ourselves and others. Whether you are struggling with consistent anxiety about your grades in school, you have not met the mark in your sport this past season, or you feel like you just haven’t devoted enough time to get to know yourself or others enough lately, quarantine oddly enough can help. Instead of having to wake up at the crack of dawn to rush to school, sports, extra curriculars, do homework, take care of yourself, take care of the people at home who need you, be a good friend, daughter, son, athlete, musician, or pretty much everything about ourselves that we have always had to jam pack into one day, it has now been put on hold and this new free time is at our disposal to take advantage of. We now have the opportunity to train harder to meet our goals next season for sports, we can call up old friends who we haven’t spoken to in a long time, and give ourselves some much deserved extra attention. So if we are healthy, and if we are able, we can take advantage of this by getting extra sleep, working on home projects that have yet to be finished, trying out that new recipe book you have yet to open from Christmas, learn a new talent, spend quality time with your immediate family, take the time to read a book, workout, practice your faith, journal, craft, or discover a new sport. The possibilities are pretty much endless, and all of these options can give us time away from our screens and learn how to properly cope and handle the stresses of our daily lives. If you are unfortunately home with someone who is out of work, explore new ways to save, think of the things you can cut back on, collect coupons and circulars, and help whomever is out of a job to stay positive and keep busy while they look for something new.

The world may have been put on hold, but high school has not and neither have our imaginations. The stress of having to pick out our clothes for school, getting stellar grades on all your finals, and the pure pressure of high school has stopped, so take the time, be appreciative and try to find new ways you can help yourself, so when we do return to normal, no matter what normal looks like, we can be prepared and we can be better.