In the 365 days it’s taken us to travel around the sun, we, as a community, have seen our world completely turned upside down. The days of large parties or simple hugs are so far behind us that even our rearview mirrors miss the sights they once held. Each person has been forced into this reality and watched its determinants affect us. We all have our own stories from this year- triumphs and teardowns- but overall, we have created and faced a brave new world.
As a member of one of the youngest generations in the Northside family, I’ve experienced it through the lens of a student. Over the past year, I have spent countless hours trapped behind a screen. We reflected on our collective COVID journey in a deep body of work called “Covid-19 Through the Distorted Looking Glass,” which features our year through poetry, film, music, and art. While it reflected the whole senior class, it was an oddly solo experience. Learning through lectures without the aid of my mentors and peers, I have had lots of time for self-reflection on being a senior. This was supposed to be our year.
We have worked hard through our primary education journey while teachers helped cultivate us as future leaders and built a memory bank for our futures. The one universal goal that every student craves are the eccentric stories from their senior year. It’s a time to enjoy the remnants of your childhood before you embark on the greatest adventure of your life- adulthood. During your senior year you do all the things high school represents as your greatest memories, such as homecoming parades, class royalty, senior sunrise, runs, pranks, ditch days, prom, and ultimately graduation.
COVID has stripped the class of 2021 from these final moments; forcing us into a reality no
17- year-old was ready to face. In many ways, our high school days ended with the sunset on March 13, 2020. Many of us became despondent or detached. The most heart-wrenching fact has been that, as a community, we have become so numb to our reality that we no longer look around to see the pain that our children and peers are facing. Just like the sea sweeps up unsuspecting sand from the shore we have let our emotions go in the same manner.
Sometimes heartbreak is too much to handle. It is easier to feel nothing than to feel at all, but at the same time when we become void, we forget what it means to be human. I implore you to let yourself feel. Feel the loss of the life you once knew, feel sorry for those you lost, feel tired of the circumstances, really just feel anything at all. Yet when you’re done feeling those pains I hope you can remember all the wonderful things that have occurred this year, as well.
You could never see the stars without the night sky. In other words, there is always light in the dark. So shine a light on all those moments that have made you laugh until your breath has run out, the extra time of being with family, the generosity of community, the socially distanced walks around the lake, a Snapchat with friends that made you smile until your jaw ached, the happiness you felt when your grandmother or teacher was vaccinated, and those moments that have made you sit back and thank whatever you believe in, that you are still alive.
We are far from ending this journey but we mustn’t forget that we are never alone. The Northside community will always be there to pick up its fallen members. If there’s one thing we can all do to aid in this daunting process it is to try to better understand those around us and help one another see the better part of every day. With a little extra love and a lot of extra care, I have no doubt that we will make it through this passing storm. The future may be a mystery, but one thing is certain. Northsiders are fighters and rest assured we will fight to see a greater day.