by Emma Laible, 04/02/2020, Traverse City, Mi

High School Category

“Oh my gosh! No school for three weeks! This is gonna be great!”
“Ugh, that means I have to turn in all of my late assignments by tomorrow.”
“Girls, this is serious. This isn’t something we should be celebrating.”
“Dad, don’t ruin my moment. Let’s all get slushees and celebrate!”
I was on the way home from a concert in Grand Rapids with my friends when we heard the news. School was closed for three weeks starting Monday due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While my friends were celebrating around me, I sat in silence. What did this mean? It felt like I was in a movie.

The next day was supposed to be the dreaded day after a night of fun where I maybe decided to skip my first couple periods and almost fell asleep in most of my classes. Instead, it was my last day of high school. The air and conversations were filled with everything from worry to excitement. Most people were planning to leave early for vacation or saying they were still going to travel. Most people didn’t believe what was happening was real or even serious.

Starting online school was definitely an adaptation. We started to learn how to communicate without face-to-face contact and adapted to the situation. At first, I was really positive about the situation. There’s not much I can do about this, so why worry?

Then the Governor announced school would be closed another week. Then another month. Then the rest of the year. I started to lose hope.

I felt the connections I had been building these past four years slipping through my fingers. All this hope I had built up disappeared. Every tradition I had been looking forward to since freshman year is over. No senior picnic, prom, or graduation like I had planned. Life lost its meaning and purpose.

It seems a little childish to put so much of ourselves into these meaningless, fabricated traditions, but these are the types of things we long for as humans: connections, meaning, and fulfillment. With my world tipped upside down, I struggled to find any of that. So, I turned to what I knew: creating.

During this difficult time of disappointment and isolation, I and many of my friends got creative. We started building, painting, singing, baking, praying, writing, and coming up with creative solutions to our problems. I started to go outside more and spend time with nature. I made beautiful pieces of art and gifts for my friends. Most importantly, I brainstormed alternative solutions to fill the gaping hole inside my heart.

This pandemic has definitely been a terrible thing. Many lives have been lost, people have lost their jobs, and most of us feel isolated and alone. But in this time, I have found many of us returning to true beauty and goodness. We look for happiness, not in man-made constructs, but in the beauty of nature and other people. We have learned how to be human again, and it is beautiful.