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Facing Reality

I am a member of the class of 2021, going into my senior year of high school. It feels surreal knowing that we will be going back to school this fall in such a different way, but I feel grateful that my senior year will take place almost a year after the emergence of the virus, rather than in the middle of its peak.

Of course, not much can completely return back to normal for a while.

I cherish spending time with my friends and recognize that it is a critical part of my high school experience. I know that when we return, my way of doing that will have to change. I’ve also been looking forward to my senior class schedule for a while now, but I anticipate that I won’t be able to experience it in the way it’s intended to be experienced. The academic procedures that will take place next year are almost unpredictable at this point, so I don’t know the degree to which my coursework will be altered. However, what we have planned is better than nothing.

Before we left for spring break, each time the pandemic and the “what if” of not returning to back school was brought up, I dealt with it like I would any other anxious thought— I pushed it to the back of my mind. If I had known that I wouldn’t be back at school for this long, I would have appreciated more of the moments when I felt comforted and at home with the people around me, not just assuming that I would have the same opportunities forever and taking it for granted.

At school, constantly having people around me with their own lives and experiences means the world to me because it reminds me that life does not completely revolve around myself; there is an entire world full of people experiencing life in various different ways. Being surrounded by this community of people all the time was something I took for granted. This value of mine is also why diving into social distancing was sort of a shock to me. Even when we return to campus, I don’t know how I will be able to enjoy school whilst staying six feet away from other people. Unfortunately, this is a reality I have to face.

With all this time stuck at home, I’ve been focusing a lot on art. Art and design have always been my passions, so during quarantine I’ve been spending hours each day working on personal projects. But because I plan to pursue art in college, building my portfolio has been more difficult than I anticipated because I have a limited amount of materials. I’ve also been sewing masks for my family and friends to do my part in fighting this pandemic.

However, even with my laidback lifestyle at home, I am constantly anxious about the possibilities of delays. If my senior year is delayed, I think I would go insane. I’m becoming afraid of losing the motivation that I had while in school, as well as my ability to efficiently reintegrate myself into the groove of classes and campus life. I’m getting so tired of forgetting what day of the week it is, and having everything seem to blend together.

As someone who is finally about to experience the long-awaited senior year of high school, it feels so strange and weirdly coincidental to have to navigate the college process right when it is drastically altered to accommodate the coronavirus. From face to face interviews to campus tours to in-person information sessions, I fear that I’ll miss the true value and experience of the college application process. However, accommodations such as the SAT not being as important of a component in the college application process this year sounds great to me. Since the SAT policy change was implemented in numerous schools, I also plan to apply to schools that I normally would not bother applying to due to my SAT and SAT II scores. I think that getting into a school based on who I am academically and personally, instead of my standardized test scores, will allow me to truly match with a school.

Honestly, large-scale epidemics, like this pandemic, have always been one of my greatest fears. Another big fear of mine is missing out on the little, exciting moments in life. I was supposed to get on a plane to London tomorrow for a trip that I’ve been waiting to go on since I was a freshman. Though I hope to still go to London someday, I will never experience that specific trip with the specific people I was supposed to go with. Watching event after event being cancelled, my worries about missing out on more significant life experiences have escalated during this time.

I’m hoping my graduation will still be held in the spring of 2021, but there are still so many other aspects of school that my senior year will be lacking. While none of us expected such abrupt and dramatic change in school life in such a short amount of time, I hope that the class of 2021 can keep our heads up to make our senior year as memorable as it is always said to be.


Written by: Lily Zeng

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