Pandemic life takes toll on teenagers

By Asheley Wi snd Zyra Urfano

Coming-of-age movies, one reason we romanticize the idea of being a teenager. Movies such as “10 Things I Hate About You,” “Mean Girls, High School Musical,” and “16 Wishes” leave their mark on the young and creating unrealistic expectations for the years to come. Teenage years are meant to be “the best years of your life“; because of this, many want to make the most out of these years and to create the best memories possible, because once the time has passed, it has passed.

Today’s teenagers live amidst the Pandemic, where opportunities to make the most are now greatly limited. Covid-19 has not only affected their teenage years but has also shaped their entire lives. Transitioning from in-person to online, students had to learn the material for their classes through their laptop screens— no longer seeing their friends in the hallways, and being at home for a vast majority of their days. They needed to adapt to the new given circumstances and, once again, try and make the best of it. 

With such a great impact on their lives, the main concern became the mental health of the students. Not only were their teenage years taken away, but they had to cope with the given situation they were placed in. 

For Senior Maia Fernandez, the pandemic essentially shaped her life.

“[…]there were times where I would want to do something, but couldn’t because of the virus.”

As students are no longer able to indulge in the true extent of being a teenager, many feel as  though teenage years are just passing by. Worry and anxiety is present amongst students when they feel as though they should be doing something to ensure the “golden years” of their lives are not going to waste. 

Forms response chart. Question title: Do you believe that the pandemic has taken away your opportunity to fully live and enjoy your teenage years?. Number of responses: 33 responses.

Junior Andrea Herrera says the pandemic took a toll on her high school memories. 

“The kind of high school memories I was looking forward to were just messing around with my friends and hanging out with them in general.” 

Herrera was in the middle of freshman year of high school when in-person schooling shut down in March of 2020. In those moments she felt “confused and uncertain” about her future. Since then, Herrera has never experienced a normal year of high school; her freshman year was cut short due the lockdown, her sophomore year was made up of Google Meets and countless hours on the computer, and as a junior she went back to in-person learning but without dances, sports, and rallies. 

For nearly two years, high school students were faced with many mental health challenges like anxiety and depression. According to the survey,  69.8% of students said yes to the pandemic that had affected their mental health. 

Forms response chart. Question title: Has the pandemic affected your mental health as a student?. Number of responses: 43 responses.

One respondent wrote that their biggest change faced during the lockdown was “quarantine depression and emotional disconnection from friends and family.” 

Another wrote, “At times I feel very anxious that I could get sick from being at school, especially considering many don’t follow the covid restrictions said to be ‘enforced.’ I find myself a lot more stressed and anxious because of this pandemic[…].”

Instead of having those high school milestones like going to school dances and walking across the graduation stage with their friends, students are faced with uncertainty and cancellations. Coming of age movies like “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” or “The Breakfast Club” never prepared this generation for the possibility of a global pandemic.

Much more than academics is learned at high school. A global pandemic takes much of it away. Some have found it difficult to find the motivation to keep going, though for the most part this generation has stayed resilient without breaking into song and dance. To expect your high school experience to be like the movies is expecting that nothing will go wrong but that is the difference between fiction and reality.

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