By Jackie White
Scarlett is a 17 year old senior in high school who will very likely not be returning to school to finish up her senior year due to the coronavirus outbreak. Her hopes, dreams and memories of her last few months with friends are slipping away. Today, we feature her surprisingly positive view on being a senior during the quarantining required today.
This year was supposed to be a flagship year in our family. Our oldest child began her final year in high school. She was thrilled to know she had a whole year to be with friends and make those memories we all look back on with such great fondness. She had one foot in high school life, and her head in the clouds of her future. She was just hitting her stride as a senior! She only had one more semester to go before graduation and so many things to look forward to!
Then, the whole world went viral. Coronavirus was creeping across the continents and made its way to the shores of the United States. Never did we expect to encounter anything like this. To think, my biggest worry was that there might be rain on the day of my daughter’s graduation party. Seems trivial in the world we are dealing with right now.
I understand the situation is necessary, but the impact on high school seniors is significant. It is a major unexpected, frankly unfathomable disappointment. With each day that passes, memories and opportunities are missed. Milestones like the senior night at the final band concert, end of the year field trips, prom, spring sports, graduation and spending time with friends who will soon be moving on are memories that will likely not happen.
How are the seniors really handling this? I spoke with my daughter regarding her perspective on how her senior year has unfolded. Scarlett is 17 and is a graduating senior in high school. Her status to be honest, is unknown - is she done? Will she finish classes? How will she finish classes? All are really good questions. We begin our discussion looking back at her senior year so far.
Senior Year in the Rearview Mirror
Scarlett begins by reminiscing about her senior year so far. She feels grateful to have had the memories she has had. Looking back she is thankful to have been able to attend two senior homecomings, one at her school and another at a boyfriend’s school. She also attended the midwinter dance, played her flute during an assembly and participated in two band concerts. When Scarlett wasn’t at school, she was either with friends or working. She misses her friends a lot, but still can communicate via Snapchat and Facetime. Finally, her work in a local restaurant has been suspended at this time, but she really misses being a part of that community.
Scarlett, ironically, is grateful that her entire existence wasn’t hinged on her life within her high school walls. She empathetically feels for those whose identity was all about something to do with high school. She notes that the high school football star, the homecoming queen or those in the popular crowd may really be struggling right now because all that defined their life was ripped from out under them so unexpectedly.
A Positive Twist on Social Distancing
Addressing today’s social distancing and quarantining, Scarlett is observing complete social distancing. She feels it is her responsibility to stay home in order to benefit our country and its people. When asked how she is handling the social distancing. She states, “ It’s boring, but don’t I have FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) because not a whole lot is going on”.
Scarlett shares that the social distancing has actually had quite a few benefits. “I've met a lot of new friends on Snapchat and Facetiming others. I'm learning new things since I have time to research things I am interested in. It’s been nice to have the time, but would rather not have to do it.” Scarlett warns that “if it (quarantining) goes on for more than 2 months I will go crazy.” I think many agree with that sentiment.
On the bright side, Scarlett says the social distancing, ironically, is bringing people together. She feels the drama and social media bullying has dropped off and that the situation has made them realize what they took for granted. She has met new friends because people are being more open to reaching out and chatting to people they may not have in person. She is enjoying huge group facetimes and talking to people daily.
She says to fill the time, she and many others are working on themselves. There are many positive challenges they are sharing online that help them build their confidence in themselves.
Is Everyone Social Distancing?
In the news, we keep hearing that the younger population is not following the social distancing rules. When I asked Scarlett about whether her friends are following the guidelines and are staying home, she confirmed not all of them are doing so. She said a few are still hanging out with other friends. She feels those friends have parents who aren’t enforcing social distancing. Scarlett has also noticed that a lot of the avoidance of social distancing behavior is coming from the teenage boys. She sees them posting videos of them hanging out in groups and even, unbelievably, having sleepovers.
Scarlett says that the kids who are not following the rules are “a little annoying because they are complaining about how long it (quarantining) is lasting but that it is because of them, the situation is being prolonged. Stating “ Even though I am a bit jealous, it’s the only way to get back to normal if we quarantine.”
Looking Forward...To What?
Looking forward Scarlett mentions she will miss many senior-only events including prom. Scarlett said, personally, she would be happy if she gets to dress up and go to dinner with friends and have some sort of celebration. She said one friend is trying to plan a big party for seniors for the summer. She mentions that one thing she'll be sad about is to not have a yearbook. “I love my yearbooks and now I won’t have one for my senior year”.
As for graduation, right now, it hasn’t been canceled, but Scarlett thinks it will be. She offers that perhaps there will be a substitute graduation. “It sucks because we worked really hard to be able to graduate and now it is not going to be a big deal. We are just not getting the proper send off”. She comments that she doesn’t think anything will be as fulfilling as it is supposed to be. She mentions that there will be no pictures in a cap and gown. No feeling of accomplishment or memories of celebrating such a pinnacle moment with friends. She admits if it comes to that, it is going to make her cry.
The special events will most definitely be missed, but most importantly, the prospect of not seeing her friends before they move on in their lives is the worst. She said it may be a really long time before she can ever see them again. It's as if the final bow has been taken and the curtain is closing, without the chance to even say goodbye.
The Glass is Half Full
A surprisingly mature Scarlett is looking on the positive side of things. “At the end of the day, I will be so grateful when things get back to normal and I know I will not take things for granted again”. She feels many of her friends feel the same way.
Looking to the future, Scarlett feels hopeful and excited. She says she is looking forward to moving out and going to college. Much to her mother’s dismay, she also says she can’t wait to get a tattoo and her nose pierced. Her future is bright and her excitement for stepping into her own independence is what she is most looking forward to right now.
Maybe these times will teach our teens and ourselves to be resilient. It is such a great skill to have in life. I am hopeful that our teens will look back on this time and will accept the absolute horrible timing of this event, but can see the silver lining. Scarlett said it best when she indicated that it is important to not take things for granted in life.
Sadly, there will not be a prom corsage, a yearbook or a memento from graduation to occupy shoeboxes on the top shelf of the closet, but instead let’s hope that inner strength, resilience and determination will be struck inside the souls of these senior high schoolers. That would be a real gift for them and the world.
Hang in there, and Shine On!
Erika Fehrenbach Prell is passionate about inspiring and educating, others on their path to complete wellness-mind,body, and soul. This desire led Erika to the helping profession of nursing, and she obtained her Master's Degree as a Nurse Practitioner in 2007. Erika specialized in cardiac surgery, largely influenced by her personal experience with heart disease. While she loved working with this population, her heart's desire has always been to impact lives on a larger scale and from a proactive, not reactive, place. The universe answered when her path crossed with Jackie and SoulShine was born. Erika finally feels she is walking in her purpose and is excited for this journey to unfold.