If anyone told me that I was going to spend the end of my senior year at home due to a global pandemic, I would have called that person crazy. In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, people across the globe have been forced to abandon the rhythmic normalcy and daily structure that we all hold onto so dearly. Although, it is extremely necessary to focus on the dedicated healthcare workers that are risking their own lives every day, it is also important to understand a high school senior’s perspective about the current dilemma. As a senior at Grace Community High School, I cannot help but feel truly sorry for all the other seniors missing out on the end of our high school careers.
After spending twelve years at a particular school or institution, it is natural to feel an attachment and a connection with the teachers and friends around you. That is the reason it is so important for seniors to arrive at the end of their high school careers on a high note or with a sense of closure. This year, it is much more difficult to find that sense of closure. From prom dances being wiped out to the cancelling of both fine arts and sporting events, it seems as if the concluding moments of a long story have been erased. Although all seniors understand that leaving high school is inevitable, it is quite frustrating to be forced to miss out on the experiences that brought you so much excitement in the past. For example, there are many baseball players that have worked tirelessly for their senior season, but instead of getting the chance to finish their year strong, they are left only with disappointment. Likewise, there are senior musicians and artists that have practiced for hours in order to have a successful competition or concert. Instead, they are left with a feeling of loss. In the end, all seniors have been impacted in one way or another, and many seniors are discouraged by the inconclusiveness of their high school careers.
At the beginning of this pandemic, I honestly felt somewhat guilty for the frustrating feelings that I had. There was a pandemic happening, many people were losing their jobs, and people were getting extremely sick; while I was at home complaining about how my senior year was “ruined.” Since that moment, I realized that it is appropriate to feel disappointment. Rather than stifling our frustrations, we should open up about our sadness, and we seniors should be encouraged to discuss our regrets. Most seniors had excitedly anticipated the events that were canceled so abruptly.
At the same time, the ordinary school system to which that all students are accustomed, has been completely modified. Rather than having classroom discussions and conversations with the people we admire, we have been taking classes online. From countless Zoom calls to online assessments, the process has been unique, to say the least. Seniors were compelled to social distancing during a time when they were expecting to say goodbye to countless teachers and friends. As a senior class, I think we never realized how thankful we were for the people around us until they were taken away. In fact, sometimes it takes a crazy event like a pandemic to cause one to feel truly grateful.
In life, disappointments and sorrow are inescapable, and I believe that this senior year is preparing us for the future. Although most seniors probably imagined a “movie-like” graduation, this year will most likely be quite peculiar. But just because the ending of this year is unique does not mean it is any less important and impactful. The lessons that we learned from this pandemic might prove to outweigh the cancelled events and occasions. The Class of 2020 learned the importance of being intentional with the time given to them, and the Class of 2020 learned how to adapt and be flexible, all skills that will be helpful in life.
This past football season, my chances of competing in the playoffs and finishing the season were abruptly ended after I broke my femur. In that moment, I felt extreme disappointment. I felt an injustice forced upon me. As I began the long, laborious process of therapy and rehab, I began to understand the lessons this season-ending injury taught me as a player. The injury informed me of the caring community around me, and it showed how connected I was to my fellow players. It emphasized the importance of humility and patience, and it put things into a more logical perspective. Although I never got to play in a playoff game, and I did not get to finish my career successfully, I learned the importance of overcoming adversity.
Right now, many seniors are experiencing the same feelings I had way back in the fall. The senior class is forced to overcome adversity, and just as my dream to finish the season strongly was crushed, many seniors are witnessing the cancellation of the end of their high school careers. At the same time, I believe the current seniors will be more willing and able to face the inescapable struggles that await them, head on. Rather than cowering from problems or bumps-in-the-road, the Class of 2020 will understand how to be flexible because of the effects of the coronavirus.
In the end, as a senior class we have two options: on one hand, we can sulk in disappointment at the loss of the events that we anticipated so greatly; or, on the other hand, we can apply the challenges of this year to our lives. I would encourage my fellow seniors to take this disappointing end of the schoolyear and run with it. Let it encourage us to work harder and love greater. I believe that Henry Ward Beecher said it best when he said, “One’s best success comes after their greatest disappointments.” Whether heading off to college or starting a job, my hope for the Class of 2020 is that our disappointments motivate us to be better people, and I hope that we can apply the lessons that we learned to help promote positive change in our spheres of influence. As I head to Texas A&M University next fall, I hope to look toward the future with confidence, hope, and resolution because of the lessons learned through adversity.