Thanks, COVID: Senior Year is Unchartered Territory

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I’m a senior at IISJ. What should have been a fun year – bonding with friends, stressing over college apps together, sharing notes for boards, planning year-end activities for the group – has come to a screeching halt. Now, it’s just me and the four walls of my room. 

As a senior, I have a lot of “firsts” and “lasts” that I’ll experience this year. 

It’s my first and, fingers crossed, last time to take classes online. The first time I start a school newspaper with my friends, but hopefully not the last time I’ll be an editor. The first time I will ever apply for college, but not the last time I’ll anxiously wait for results. One first of my last year I won’t miss are the dreaded board exams!

It’s bittersweet to think that I’ll be walking these halls for the last time this year. I wonder if I’ll get the chance to do it with my friends. And Senior Farewell and Graduation – will they happen? 

If I had known that 2019 would be my last “proper” year in high school,  I would have asked my teachers more questions and paid more attention during class. I would have put more effort into submitting my assignments on time instead of 2 minutes before Google Classroom’s deadline of 11:59 PM. 

As a member of the basketball club, I was supposed to be practicing every day and going to tournaments all around the city. Instead, practice is virtually impossible and most tournaments are cancelled. I regret not immersing myself in the team experience fully last year, always believing that there would be a “next time.” There wasn’t. As I make occasional trips to school to talk to teachers about college, I catch myself glancing longingly at the gym, wishing that I could be in practice clothes, sweating profusely, with Coach yelling at me to run faster and pass the ball quicker.

But senior year hasn’t been all bad. Sure, I might not be able to sneak into the gym during lunch breaks, but I could “sneak” onto the internet and give my mind “intellectual stimulation.” I can’t laugh with my friends about the silly answers I gave in class, but I could definitely call them and laugh about a funny Instagram post I shared.

And staying at home has made me more self-sufficient than I used to be. I have learned how to make and manage my own schedule. I’m also getting better at coping with the school workload and studying hard for exams.

The pandemic has taught me that there is no “next time” for anything – only the present. These high school years that I took for granted will never come back. So, to all juniors and sophomores – if you think that you’re not going to miss these four years, you could not be more wrong. As cliché as it sounds, live in the moment so that you won’t have regrets later. Have late night video calls with your friends. Study hard for that test next week. Everything depends on how you use the time you have right now instead of worrying about what will happen in the future. 

While COVID-19 has taught me to fear the future and what it has in store for me, it’s also made me think that even if the days seem bleak, there are always better days to come. As I prepare to apply to college, I carry forth this hope with me.