While my biology teacher was talking about the efficiency of protein transport systems, I was blissfully thinking about my prom dress. It was the color of the ocean at low tide, a stunning light blue as if all the sand had finally settled to the bottom of the sea. With embroidered flowers and ivy on the bodice, delicate tulle at the bottom, I was ready to twirl, spin, and dance with my friends as we celebrated the impending freedom that summer always brings. And then, as suddenly as the daydream came, it was gone.
Despite all of the economic, political, and social crises occurring worldwide, I have felt numb ever since my school district announced its closing roughly a week ago. I saw all of my would-be experiences and successes as if they were a video montage playing on a loop: state speech, eating at Ruby Tuesday’s with my team, riding in the limo with my date to prom, attending my friends’ graduation parties, celebrating with my classmates as we finally finished AP testing. All of these moments have been taken away. Now, I by no means wish to discredit the suffering that many are enduring because of COVID-19: the anxiety and stress of employment, the impact on physical and mental health — there are much larger problems, and I recognize them and the people who are struggling with them.
But after days of reflection, I have realized that my losses, however insignificant they might seem to other individuals, are still valid. High school and college are supposed to be the best, most formative years of a person’s life (if Hollywood is to be believed). To have those moments be taken away — graduations, performances, games, competitions, hangouts, parties, whatever it is — some things you just can’t get back. It’s okay to let our hearts break, for ourselves, for others, for our would-be memories. That time of self-introspection and sadness is important, so we can eventually pick ourselves up and look to our futures, whatever they may hold.
Between my Zoom meetings and e-learning activities, I find it relaxing to write, read, watch movies, even bake a cake or two. I suppose I have come to the conclusion that my lost experiences will never truly come back exactly as they were before. But I still hold on to the hope that some other opportunity will manifest itself in my future.
There isn’t a formula for teenagers to find the perfect solution for their unique losses, but I do believe having a strong system of support is key to healing. If you have teens in your life, do the little things for them: Prepare them their favorite snack, honor their pick for movie night — little gestures to let them know you’re there and willing to listen. I and other teenagers are not asking for pity or even sympathy, but simply acknowledgment and respect for our losses, however minute they may be.
For everyone, keep faith and hope for the future.