teens

'Dear parents, this is what I want you to know about growing up in a pandemic.'

We’ve all had it hard during the pandemic. Yet, reminiscing about my final year of school during the peak of COVID-19 makes me feel disappointment more than anything. 

A time meant to be filled with formals, graduations, 18th birthday parties, schoolies, and not to mention, the exams you have been working towards your whole schooling life - has been taken away, ruined, or rearranged.  

Every time the phrase, "We need you to be resilient through these unprecedented times" was said in our school assemblies, you could feel a slight breeze from all the moody teenagers rolling their eyes in sync. As after this phrase was said, it was almost always followed with the news that yet another tradition had been cancelled, one we had been waiting for our whole schooling life. 

Watch: Parents of teenagers, translated. Post continues after video.


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Yet, despite our initial reaction of sass, we copped it on the chin and carried on. 

You have to understand, we walked into the front gates of school in Year 7 idolising the seniors. Planning and aspiring to be them one day, when we would finally fit into our uniforms properly. Some students were dreaming of schoolies and other post schooling celebrations like they had seen many years before, while others were just dreaming of their final sports carnival when they would embark on the frivolity of their leadership rights. 

Either way, all the events we had been enthusiastic about for so long, were destroyed.

Though students before us had mentioned our final results don’t define us and don’t always affect our future, when you’re literally talking like Macbeth because you have read the play 15 times, you do feel like the HSC exams are the be all and end all. 

"All the events we had been enthusiastic about for so long, were destroyed." Image: Supplied.

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To make things even harder for senior students of recent years, we often felt like our future dreams and plans that we were working hard towards could be be instantly taken away from us 

Despite this, we persevered. I feel like we didn’t have time to think about the world falling around us; we were too focused on the near finish line, so we pulled our socks up and got the job done. 

We went from teenagers, to young adults overnight. Growing resilience instantly. Or growing resilience "faster than thought or time". (Yep, that's my Shakespeare studies paying off).  

For years, we had watched Year 12 students before us celebrate their final year and achievements with traditions we had only dreamed of reaching. 

Despite trudging along and studying for the HSC exams over Zoom or without trial exams, we didn’t even get to reward ourselves with a "normal" formal, graduation, or schoolies. Instead, we were faced with the constant fear that events would get cancelled, and sadly, some students even graduating in their bedroom over a computer screen, instead of proudly standing on a stage in front of friends, family, and the school community.

Read more from Ruby: 'Dear parents, this is what I want you to know about being a teenager in 2022.'

This started to impact our mental health more than ever before.

On top of the usual stresses of high school (both on the social and academic side), the pandemic made teenagers feel increased isolation. No more school sport meant limiting exercise endorphins as well as taking away the crucial socialising aspect that comes with it. 

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There was also no more sharing of lasts together. The last day of school, the last lunch time, the last exam. And no more sharing of firsts. The first time getting formally dressed up together, the first time attending university, and the first time properly 'going out'.

Relying on social media and technology for school and socialising purposes also increased our insecurities and anxieties.

We as teenagers understand that the pandemic tested friendships for almost everyone (we all aren’t as evil and unsympathetic to our parents as Regina George). But we want our parents to understand, for high school students, when drama and emotions are again heightened, it was especially hard.

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On top of that, high school is a time when you can cherish not only your closest friends but also the people in your grade that inspire you. It is the last time you can see the girl that motivates you to strive to be better academically, or the guy that pushes you to shorten your running time. With the pandemic, this was lost. 

In saying all of this, I am sure some teenagers found lockdown to be the time of their lives. Some introverted teenagers would have loved being in the safety of their own homes and not having to dread school every day. 

Sadly, other teenagers would’ve found it the opposite and missed the escape from their home life. After all, for some teens, school is a place of stability.

A place where they feel the influence and care of adults, whether that be teachers or supervisors. Not only were the lasts, firsts, and the times we were looking forward to the most, taken away from us... safety was also taken away for some. 

We as students can only hope this situation helps turn us into more sympathetic and hardworking adults, parents, and leaders for the future. 

Ruby Randall may only be 18 years old, but she has well over 18 topics that she is passionate enough to write about. By sharing her experiences as the eyes of a new generation, she aims to connect with women of all ages who may have similar experiences so they can feel comfortable about themselves or maybe even gain some new insights. You can follow her Instagram  @rubyrrandall.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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