19 vs ’20

by Lucy Stiebel, 05/12/2020, Traverse City, Mi

High School 9-12 Category


Everyone says that we are living through history, and in fifty years students will be opening their textbooks to a page titled “Global Pandemic: The 2020 Coronavirus and Economic Struggles.” I’ll be curious to see what they put in the textbooks, and what the writers deem important for future students to know. I’m sure they will be loaded with statistics, symptoms, and graphs of the stock market. However, we are the primary source. Historians will come to us for their research projects, and this is the story we’ll tell.
On Saturday, March 7th, I woke up in the morning, got dressed, and went to work. Little did I know I wouldn’t be seeing any of my coworkers for weeks, let alone months. My boss warned me that Mercury was in retrograde and not to forget that this Friday was the 13th. We laughed about it and I told her I’d be careful. I never could have imagined the events that were to come, and I never could have imagined that Friday, March 13th would be my last day of high school.
At the beginning of this year, I think we all set our expectations too high. I told myself, this is going to be my year, my last prom, my last dance recital, my last time walking through the halls of Central High School. I never thought these things had already happened. Although I still hold on to a thread of hope for prom, I know it won’t be the same. I haven’t been able to hug my best friends in almost two months. Two months ago I made lighthearted jokes about the coronavirus, never imagining I was living through a global pandemic.
Until now, reality hadn’t hit me. It all seemed superficial, like normalcy was just under the surface, and I could peel away the pandemic and have my life back. A few weeks ago I was enjoying my time off. No school, no work, and being able to spend time with my family was a plus. Then my brother left and went back home and my step sister left, and now it feels lonely even when I’m surrounded by the rest of my family. My family tells me not to worry, we’ll be out and about soon. My friends tell me to stick with it. My teachers tell me to stay on top of my work. I never knew how easily the motivation can be sucked out of you when you don’t have anything to look forward to.
The class of 2020 seniors all around the world have been supported by schools, the media, celebrities, friends, family, teachers, colleges, and so much more. To me, it’s cool to see everyone living through the same thing. It’s one of the most universal experiences in history. Teens are all watching the same movies, playing the same games, hearing the same news, feeling the same emotions. We are all going on an endless amount of walks, having an endless amount of family dinners, and feeling like quarantine is endless. When people say we’re all in this together, it might seem like a weak attempt to cheer us up, but I know it’s true. We are all living the same lives and experiencing the same events. This truly is a time of mixed emotions.
Although some people feel like the world is falling apart, we are trying to make the most of this time. I’ve tried to make healthy lifestyle changes and keep a positive mindset. Not to mention, we’re all getting creative and finding new ways to kill time. I made a magazine featuring my friends and snippets of the past couple of years. I made a Breakfast Club movie spinoff called the COVID Club, featuring my family each playing about three different parts. I’ve picked up embroidery and started sewing again. I’ve written a song and created music. I’ve practiced the piano. I’ve written stories and here I am writing this–a new story.
The other day I went for a late-night drive, and parked my car on the peninsula, and watched the sunset over the bay, alone. It was one of the most satisfying and relaxing things I had done in weeks. With the windows down and the cool breeze blowing through my fingertips, I stared up through the sunroof. I played music and watched the moon brighten the sky. Everything seemed still and fresh, one of the good things about people staying home. I would highly recommend this. I would also highly recommend trying to enjoy the hikes your parents are dragging you along on. Northern Michigan is such a beautiful place, with endless dunes, beaches, woods, and freshwater. Sometimes we forget to take advantage of these views, but when there’s an infinite blue sky without a cloud in sight there is nothing better to do than enjoy it. Even if it’s just laying outside in your yard, feeling the refreshing breeze and hot sun glaring down. It is especially easy to forget that it is May after all, and we are two months into spring. Going outside always cheers me up when I lose track of the days and wish for this to just be over already.
If in five years, fifty years, or a hundred years, history repeats itself, I want people to know that although you may never know what is coming next, and you might get news every two weeks that you have to stay home two weeks longer, you should keep on moving forward. Take advantage of this time to flourish and watch the environment thrive as we step away from society. Call your friends, call your family, go outside, stay optimistic, and think about others. You may feel scared, sad, and lonely, but the entire world is with you, and believe it or not, time flies.