Stay-at-home orders have rendered most of the country anxious and uncertain, but high school seniors face a uniquely shitty set of realities—grieving the high school experiences they are forfeiting to covid-19 while attempting to imagine what their futures will hold. Lucy, an 18-year-old high school senior who I’ve known since she was a toddler, spoke to Jezebel about some of those realities and fears to better understand what the “new normal” looks like to someone navigating standard coming-of-age worries about grades, college, and relationships during an unsettling time that is anything but “how life normally is supposed to be.”
All the kids my age, the seniors, are at home right now. I know because I go to a very small school in Vermont and all of us are in a group chat. Today, I’ve been in bed on my computer all day. That’s been my routine this entire time. Sometimes, I’ll go on a hike since I literally live in the woods. We didn’t get prom, we are not getting our senior trip, and we’re probably not getting graduation.
But graduation, I think is what most people are upset about. Because at graduation, you get to do the walk, and you get a photo of yourself walking. That’s really important to some of my friends because their parents didn’t graduate high school and some of my friends aren’t going to college, so this would have been the only time they get to walk. I’m really upset about graduation because my family was supposed to come. We were going to have a tea party with badminton and croquet. Plus, I already bought the cap and gown, so that’s kind of upsetting.
I was also going to be in the Apple Blossom Festival (a local pageant). First, they canceled one practice, but we still took our pictures for the newspaper, and then we took our photos, and we got an email that was like “Oh sorry, it’s been canceled.” I was really upset, but not nearly as upset as my friend was because he was my escort. We had been practicing our three dances for a long time, and we had them down. It was really sad. It was really upsetting. There would have been the first dance, which was introducing all of us, where we walk in front of the judges. And then there were individual dances where it would be just girls or just boys and introducing everyone individually, and then we’d have more together dances. But we also had little boys and girls that we were mentoring. The girls have to dance with their little ones and the boys have to dance with their little ones, and at the very end, [judges] choose their favorite boy, their favorite girl, and their favorite couple. And you got like a really big scholarship.
But another part of it was that this year I was trying to have a real senior year. My entire high school I was just alone in my room wanting to hang out with my friends but scared I was being too needy. And suddenly this year I was like “I don’t care” and started trying to do cheerleading and stuff. But now, it’s like, all my classes are on Zoom.
It does have its upsides. Straight up if I don’t want to go to a class I just have to email my teacher and be like “Oh no my camera’s not working” or “My internet’s been really weird recently.”
But all the teachers are also just talking about their days because they’re so in need of human contact. So like on Friday, I had a class with my media journalism teacher, and he spent the entire time talking about a hike he went on with his wife. Like, he muted all of us and just talked. Normally they are sometimes like that, but it’s like that while we’re doing work, so we have a worksheet and we’re doing it, and they start talking. But now it’s just them talking at us. And the only teacher that is actually like doing things is my psychology teacher, and she’s just like “Read an article about corona,” and we’re like “No” because it’s too sad.
I know from the news which countries have it, and I know that America has it the worst. And I know the basic symptoms of corona, and I know what getting tested would be like, and I know what they’re testing for. Also, there’s all of the things that Trump and the administration have been doing because of corona that aren’t cool. They took a bunch of Native American land away because of Trump’s casinos. Powerful people will definitely do worse things because of corona in the future. It takes away a lot of opportunities to say “This is wrong.” We won’t be able to protest because we can’t get into groups. But the news is just corona, which is important, but there are other things happening. The only other news you get are animal videos because people need to feel better.
But I still think my classmates probably feel less anxious than they should. It seems like people at school don’t think they are susceptible to corona. They don’t care if they’re going out or don’t care if they’re going to get it. But we’re carriers. I have to be really careful when I’m going out or else mom [who is a midwife] might get it and she might give it to her clients. My friend has asthma, so she has to be careful. Another friend has to go to work [at a retail shop deemed essential] even though his great-grandma is like on the brink of death, and he’s working constantly.
I think what’s going to be strange is that one day we’re going to be in our fields that we have chosen, and we’re going to see a teenager and we’ll say “Remember when we were in quarantine,” and the teenagers will be like “No.” And we’ll be like “We’re old.”
I was talking to my eight-year-old brother the other day, and he asked, “How many times have you been in quarantine?” That made me really sad because kids just think this is what life is like. He was so sure all people go through this all the time.
It’s difficult. I hope things will eventually get back to normal but I feel like they’re not going to get back to normal as soon as everyone is thinking or hoping. I think it’s going to be like after 9/11 where something was always a little bit off afterward. People will probably wear masks and gloves every day, and it won’t be weird because of corona. You’ll probably have to go to the doctor and get tested for certain things before you can get a job which won’t be weird because of corona. Some people have theorized that corona might go into 2021, and if so then all schooling is going to be online forever. It’s going to be awful. I’m terrible at online classes. I’ve taken online college classes before earlier this year. And I had to drop it because online classes suck.
I was always going to take a year at community college before I applied to my dream schools. But my friend that was going to a great music school doesn’t know if he’s going to be able to go or not. Most of my friends thought they would go to college, graduate college, and do their dream job. And any time people say there might be more to it, they say they’re not going to think about that. Mainly they’re not concerned because they refuse to think about it. Like one friend keeps saying his summer camp isn’t going to get canceled, but it’s totally going to get canceled.