How COVID-19 is helping, not hindering, teenagers nationwide


Rachel Ducran

When sifting through all of the disappointments that teenagers have been faced with as a result of COVID-19’s presence, it’s incredibly difficult to find a silver lining. There doesn’t appear to be anything positive: cancelled school trips, pushed proms, missed opportunities, risky athletic seasons and all-virtual meetings now adorn the experiences of high school students nationwide. Is it even possible to locate something to crack a smile about?
Yes, it is possible. 
You could surely name a thousand ways high schoolers have been hindered by the virus, but how have they been helped? Amanda Saba, a senior at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High school, sees a positive effect of the virus. 
“The pandemic helped me find myself and allowed me to focus on my health physically and emotionally,” Saba said. “It also strengthened my relationships with people in my life due to the distance we had to keep.”
While most of us tend to view the pandemic as a mental health enemy, the reality is it has significantly aided in establishing stronger connections with people. While we aren’t able to physically meet anyone, we’ve been more in touch virtually than ever with our companions. It now takes more to form and maintain stronger connections, and through the inability to see each other face-to-face, we’ve been working harder and harder at keeping friends close. This period of social inactivity has shown people who their real friends are, allowing them the comforts of true friendship amongst the constant stressors. 
Aside from reinforcing ties with companions, having all of the extra time spent at home has also contributed to boosting morale and motivation. Some have picked up daily workout routines, and others have discovered new hobbies that help them stay in touch with their identities. 
Bridget Abbott, a junior at SPFHS, also touched on her newfound creativity. 
“The situation at hand has made me enjoy my time alone and helped me develop new hobbies and daily routines to help my life stay in check,” Abbott said. “I began to journal, paint, bake and organize more often. Additionally, yoga and workouts were implemented into my daily routine.”
Paarth Sutar, a sophomore at SPFHS, also discussed the positives he experienced as a result of the pandemic. 
“Even though I was disappointed that everything got canceled, I found new ways to keep myself entertained at home and new hobbies as well,” Sutar said. “Adapting to everything made me a lot more independent. I started cooking for myself almost everyday, and became able to manage my workload without any help at all.”
When looking at the bigger picture, there’s another benefit of the pandemic beyond establishing emotional security. Amongst all of the events and activities that teenagers have had to say goodbye to, the concept of adaptability has been forced upon them. While a lot has occurred to throw students off track, the ability to navigate difficult situations is a true super power that people will always need in the real world, mid-global-pandemic or not. The heavyset flurry of test scores, maintaining grades, college supplements and impending deadlines is normal for a high schooler, but learning to chart the waters of future plans amid the strike of COVID-19? They’re learning to manage a new degree of stress at a very young age, shaping them into stronger individuals and thus preparing them for the future rife with unknowns. 
While everyone is bound to be disappointed by the pains and challenges of a negatively-altered lifestyle, it really helps to see the good amongst all of the bad. Although we’ve been plagued with cancellations throughout 2020, we’ve been introduced to the skill of adaptability, and the importance of maintaining strong relationships with our colleagues and ourselves.