As a high school senior, I undoubtedly admit to struggling with this COVID-19 pandemic situation.
I struggle with the idea of not having prom: a day where we get to dress up with all our friends and dance the night away, a day we had imagined since our freshman year in high school.
I struggle with the idea of not having a graduation: a day where we get to walk across the stage with all our friends and our families cheering, wearing our colorful honor cords that reflect our strong morals and honorable characters that we have been working so hard on for these last four years.
Yet, most of all, I struggle to cope with the guilt of feeling these emotions when millions of people across the globe suffer day and night due to this ruthless and sweeping pandemic. Families are torn apart, unable to console each other, and communities are shredded right in front of our eyes.
However, for most high school and college seniors like myself, we simply remain focused on all that we’re missing out. A wise man once said, “good things come to those who wait.”
In most Asian households, this is the philosophy we have grown up hearing.
Our childhoods were predominantly focused on trying to excel in academics, through programs like Kumon and Mathnasium, where we spent years trying to be the “smartest” in the class.
By the time we put those elementary and middle school struggles behind us, we had another challenge set forth in front of us: the challenge of admission into the country’s top colleges. “After getting in,” our parents said, “have as much fun as you want. Work hard now and enjoy the rest of your future.”
Well, just as I thought the blissful part of our senior year was approaching and the hard part was finally coming to an end, the coronavirus hit, stripping us away from all the potential lifelong memories.
It seems funny when you think about it: all we seniors want is the freedom to start living our lives as adults and now we’re forced to cope with the most testing of situations, seemingly tossing us right in the deep end of the pool.
But I guess that’s what sets the distinction between being an adult and throwing childish temper tantrums — adults learn how to make the most out of an unexpected situation even if it may not be as you had planned or desired for, while still thinking about the broader (less selfish) impact.
I recently turned 18. For months I had dreamt about what I would be doing on my big day, from shopping to traveling to throwing a huge party in the midst of my friends and family. For obvious reasons, all my plans were abruptly demolished. I was stuck at home, confined to the four walls that had slowly been eating away at my motivation to keep hope for better times.
Without a doubt, this birthday will forever be one that I cherish. In a world filled with all that is so complex and evil right now, I felt all my worries and fears disappear as I spent quality time at home for once after what seemed to be years. On this day I truly understood the value of all the “small” privileges I so easily take for granted.
My daily $3 Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee, my daily drive to school, my daily gym workouts (during which I am more often than not constantly complaining). However, most importantly, I learned the value of the wonderful people in my life: my peers, school teachers, and family members. The people who we think are always just going to be there, until one day they aren’t.
My generation is constantly accused of being insensitive and materialistic, for good reason of course. Nonetheless, this time of hardship will be the true test of our society and characters to come in the following months and years.
Ishani Takyar is a senior at South Brunswick High School in Monmouth Junction, New Jersey. She will be attending Rutgers University’s business program this fall.