It’s officially May. The month of May was supposed to be a celebration of achievement, a symbol of a huge milestone, a transition from one big stage to the next for me and so many others. May is the month we graduate, from elementary, middle, high school, college, and so on. A month supposed to be filled with bright, sparkly futures, endless festivities, and needed closure from the stages we just successfully completed. Instead here we are, sitting at home, feeling completely out of control of the new reality that has taken most of this away from us. To be honest, it sucks.
We lost those weeks of lasts. Last moments with our friends, last experiences, last meals, last classes, all of those lasts that while can be difficult to face, often offer us some kind of comfort in knowing we got to do something one last time. We lost those ceremonies and celebrations. So many kids dream about the day they graduate high school/college, in a big stadium, with a fancy cap and gown, hearing their name, holding up their degree and thinking “I did it.” Whether you loved school, hated it, or just wanted it to be over, for every person there is such a satisfaction in completing something as long and challenging as an education. Everyone wants to receive recognition for their hard work. And although schools have no choice but to honor us virtually, there is just something so shi*%y about not getting that needed celebration. I think we have all come to realize that what is going on in the world is bigger than just our own personal losses, but it still feels absolutely crushing to not get to fully experience the celebration we deserve.
We are also losing that closure. That’s what I worry about most. How are we supposed to go from abruptly ending the year to this weird quarantine period and then all of the sudden be expected to be an adult in the real word? How are high school seniors who missed out on so much expected to start a new chapter without even knowing if they will be able to attend a real campus? How will we be expected to pick up a new life without ever getting the chance to say goodbye to what we left behind? Not to mention the fact that so many of us college seniors worked our asses off to enter a basically non-existent job market.
So how do we move on with this? How do we find any positives? How do we get through this month without constantly thinking about what we’re missing? If I’m going to be completely honest, I don’t know. I’m usually the person who always finds the good, makes the best out of things, but this month is hard for me. I just want to be sad, to be angry. I think we have to be, to get through it. We have to feel what we want to feel. I think that because of the condition of our world right now, people are looked down upon for feeling upset about what corona has taken away from them personally. There is always going to be someone with a situation worse than you, (and of course I recognize how extremely privileged I am to have my health, safety, and resources), but that shouldn’t take away from whatever emotions you are experiencing and should NOT invalidate the hurting you are feeling. Let yourself heal, let yourself feel that pain; none of this is easy and every person has the right to handle it with whatever emotions they need.
I think that once we let ourselves address these feelings, we can start to find silver linings. We are making history as the first class to graduate in this type of way, and although at first thought that sounds, well horrible, it means that we have the opportunity to turn this into something incredibly meaningful. I have seen young people doing amazing things during quarantine; people starting blogs and tapping into their passions, people raising money for those in need, people inventing new, innovative business ideas, people creating comedic relief on Tik Tok and so much more. I have found that more often than not when I go on social media, I see positive things happening. Individuals all over are using this time to inspire others and activate change. We, as young people, truly have the potential to accomplish greatness, and this time is almost a way for us to have the time to think about what it is that we want to do to impact the world. I am honored to be surrounded by so many peers who are tapping into this challenge and tackling it in innovative ways. I am confident that the Class of 2020 will emerge as leaders and come out of this ready to take on any challenge.
So, while we can’t celebrate the way we should be, cheers to US. We still freakin’ DID IT and should be so proud of our accomplishments. For now, a virtual toast, but coming soon a proper celebration surrounded by a group of more than 10 people and NO masks. In the meantime, let’s continue to innovate, inspire, and navigate through this time together.
Cover Photo: Carolyn Ellis