By SOPHIE FRIEDBERG | Junior Reporter
Everything we look forward to revolves around human connection.
On the eve of my second week in quarantine and sixth day of ‘eLearning,’ I FaceTimed my friend Judy to discuss—or more honestly, rant about—everything going on around me.
I’m an 18-year-old high school senior.
School closed five days before the opening night of my school musical; we had been rehearsing since January.
The next week, my school’s newspaper was set to release its third volume of the year; we had finished final layouts four days prior.
The first of April would be my last pep rally; I’d performed with the Dance Team there for the past four years.
Mid-April I was scheduled to see four colleges—the ones I was deciding between.
In May we would take our national AP Exams, go to prom and participate in senior ditch day.
June I would walk across the stage at graduation and receive my diploma.
You get the picture.
Everything we looked forward to the entire school year is either gone, up in the air or hanging on by a thread.
I could go on and on about how devastating and horrifying and anticlimactic and depressing this is—but you already know that.
I could go on and on about how people are stealing toilet paper and hand sanitizers. How the elderly and the poor and the immune-deficient are dying left and right. How people are losing their jobs and don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
But you already know that.
I’m not here to point out what is going right in a world that only seems to be going wrong. I’m not here to say that we should be focusing on all that we do have, not what we don’t. I’m not here to explain how we could all have it much worse than this, and should be grateful for the resources at hand.
While these things may be true, here’s what I’m really here to say: We still have the power to keep our spirits up—and here’s why:
I want you to take a moment to think about how a typical week would look for you three months ago.
For me, the average student, it went something like this: 6:30 a.m. wake up, school until 2:00 p.m., homework (or Netflix depending on my willpower), dance practice from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., dinner, asleep by 11:00 p.m.
On the weekends I would get brunch with my friends, go to parties, clock in at my job, take a yoga class with my mom, have dinner with my family or anything else that let me release some of the tension I felt throughout the week.
Regardless of your age, everyone’s Monday through Friday looks a little bit like mine. Swap out school for a job, dance for cello or homework for a puzzle. On the weekends we partake in some act of fun that we look forward to during that stressful AP Calc class or that tedious board meeting. We make commitments and those commitments help us lead stable and routine lives.
Two months ago, my stable and routine life was flipped upside down, as were all of yours. It’s taken a minute to adjust to this new way of life, post-apocalyptic and stagnant. In the first few weeks of lockdown, I began looking for answers on why my days suddenly seemed so bleak, and why I didn’t feel relief when the weekend came.
I quickly realized one thing: Everything we look forward to revolves around human connection.
Yes, we’ve all had those days where we want nothing more than to take a solo bubble bath and let everything around us completely disappear. Everyone needs some “me time” when our days are typically full of interaction.
But I cannot stress this enough: No matter how these next few months play out, if we live in isolation, we will suffer serious mental consequences.
We cannot be sequestered inside our own heads, feeling lonely and worried and powerless.
Those weekend plans will have to be altered, there’s no doubt about it. The parties and the yoga classes and the part-time jobs must cease to preserve the health of as many people as possible.
But we aren’t alone.
I know it seems like I shouldn’t have to say this, but, call your friends. Hear their voices, see their faces.
Download Zoom, Skype, Evercast, FaceTime. I’m telling you, pleading with you, don’t let those human connections fade away.
Think about everything you used to look forward to, everything that used to bring you joy and relief. At some level it can be traced back to human connection. So I’m begging you, don’t let human connection die out in these coming months.
Although humans literally need to avoid one another, don’t avoid online contact with your friends, your co-workers, your teachers, your employers, your distant relatives, your old housekeeper, your tutor, your gardener, those kids you babysat that one time. I don’t care who it is, but for your sake and for theirs, talk to people. It’s not enough to double-tap their quarantine-selfie on Instagram. Do your book club online. Livestream a workout video with your friend. Take an online painting class with your cousin.
Please, stay inside. Putting your desires above the world’s wellbeing is selfish and thoughtless. We can’t put others in harm’s way by leaving our houses, but we are doing serious harm to ourselves if we isolate our spirits. It’s been proven time and time again: We’re stronger together than when we fight alone. We need to keep up the human contact that used to fill our lives with stimulation, and, dare I say, with purpose.
I know we all don’t love taking life advice from an 18-year-old, but I’m right about this one.
If we don’t have anything to look forward to, we don’t have anything at all. If we don’t have hope and unity, we don’t have anything at all. And if we don’t have human connection, we don’t have anything at all.
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