A high school senior attempts to look on the bright side of “social distancing.”
I have a confession to make: When my school announced that we would be implementing a remote learning program, thereby cutting my senior year “short” until further notice, I was not completely devastated. I am an introvert by nature. An arch-introvert. So when I learned I’d have more time to stay inside and enjoy pleasure reading and pleasure writing while listening to "Dialogues des Carmélites" (a French Opera)—which is exactly what I’m doing right now—part of me couldn’t help but look on the bright side and be slightly grateful for the extra free time. I hope I have not come off as selfish, and I am not asking you to be ignorant of the situation. Please, forgive me if I have come off this way. The current health situation impacting the globe is tragic, infecting hundreds of thousands of people and indirectly affecting many more. I would trade all of the pleasure reading and writing, opera listening, and soul searching I’ve done over the past few weeks for a miraculous, world-wide disappearance of the Coronavirus faster than you can say hydroxychloroquine. For the purpose of maintaining sanity in this time of isolation, I’ve been trying my best to just keep looking on the bright side of life. Now, I would like to share with you some of the optimistic ruminations that I’ve had over the past few weeks: Even though all large events at which you would see your friends have been cancelled, there are still plenty of ways to keep in touch with friends and distant family during this period of social distancing. Now, believe me, I am not a social media person at all; this is probably due to my introversion, my camera consciousness (the scar from a scratch that my cat gifted me with when I was eleven) or the fact that I like opera. But I will admit, there is a definite bright side to social media being a popular medium in this present moment—people are able to keep up with each other and communicate via direct messaging (which I would otherwise feel should be done in person if the current circumstances allowed). Additionally, I am positive that the stocks for face-to-face online communication services such as Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, and Zoom are booming right now. Before March 2020, I had no clue what Zoom was. Now I’m practically on it every other day. I’ve also seen my list of contacts on Zoom grow exponentially over the past two weeks, sheerly because of many other contacts in my “company’s” (aka: my school’s) email system installing it as well. My advice for the rest of this social distancing period is to try to call, or at the very least, text or email 3-5 people daily. This could be friends or acquaintances. It is soothing to talk to people and know they are doing alright, or to see if they need help with anything. I’ve had a few people ask me how I am coping with having my senior year cut short. The thing is, I’m not too upset—as of right now, anyway. If this pandemic goes on long enough that graduation or grad night end up being cancelled, then I would be upset. This is mainly because the former is a traditional, coming-of-age milestone, and both are just fun events my friends and I have been looking forward to all year. Besides that, I’m not too upset about having to spend part of senior year at home. Mainly because, I’ve actually gotten a lot of free time, not only to work on my writing, but also to just soul search—which is something I’ve been needing to do in order to successfully pick a college with confidence. Without this social distancing period, I would be nowhere near as emotionally developed as I am now: I’m in the process of formulating my goals for college and the rest of my life, and I would be just as lost as I was three weeks ago if I hadn’t had this time at home. But, as I said, in the midst of this rapidly spreading pandemic, my personal conundrums are immaterial, so enough about me. I still sympathize with fellow seniors who feel they are losing precious memories with friends, but on the bright side, you can still chat with your friends online; we live in a time unlike any other, and, if possible, you can attend school online. It’s not anywhere near as beneficial or “fun” as physically being at school, but it is better than nothing. Ultimately, the world could be a lot better off right now. Some have lost loved ones, and many have lost their jobs. I am deeply disheartened how the current state of affairs are affecting everyone in this country and in the world. However, I remain hopeful. We will get through this. I will end with the most optimistic rumination I have: This pandemic has shown how, in times of struggle, humans are generous. Sure, I’ve seen many of the videos of the hoarders and the thieves that have arisen during this time of stress. However, I’ve seen many more people, organizations, and companies be more generous than ever before. I’ve heard stories of people helping each other and sending supplies to one another. I’ve seen many people offer up their time in order to help people who shouldn’t be leaving their homes get supplies. I’ve seen many schools, teams, offices, churches, and hobby-groups agree to regularly meet online via communication services. And—the most generous of all—let’s not forget all the medical personnel who are working at least 14-hour days and putting themselves at risk for our safety. This pandemic has brought to my attention the inherent generosity and kindness of the human species, and that’s how I know we’ll be alright.