To all my juniors out there, we can all agree on this: Junior year is not a particularly “fun” year. Stress and anxiety run rampant, and this is the year when the intensity of those feeling spikes dramatically. It’s not even about school, extracurricular activities, personal life, college, but rather juggling everything that’s going on and how it affects your time and energy. I’m starting to feel drained and to be honest, the coronavirus pandemic isn’t necessarily making things better.

On, March 31, 2020, I read Ashton Casey’s article on how coronavirus has affected his senior year, and I decided to provide my perspective and experience in this situation as a junior. Personally, the coronavirus frenzy has made life more mundane and distressing than ever, as school at home can be boring and I don’t get to leave my general vicinity as much.

How long is this gonna last?

That question itself scares me and I think a lot of people. It’s the uncertainty of not knowing when this pandemic will exactly end, and when life can go back to normal. This isn’t just some short interruption where students can easily readjust, but rather a major disruption in our lives built on routine and structure. My sleep schedule has changed where I’ve gotten more sleep, but my academic schedule has completely changed. My life isn’t as arranged and set as it was before, where certain classes would happen at certain times, like English in 2nd period or Science during 7th period. Now, I just kinda work on whatever subjects first come to mind in the mornings, and develop a mental to-do list of things I need to get done. This has given me more freedom to work on things ahead of time than in school, but I know that I am a pretty small minority. Some people may arguably be behind and just looking to catch up to the previous day’s work, which isn’t a strategy I recommend. Regardless, it has taken time for me to start getting used to, but being isolated allows me to focus more on my studies and continue to work harder. While seniors may have time to relax and enjoy the rest of their high school time, juniors still have work to do, as college applications are coming sooner than ever. Thus, this disruption doesn’t necessarily guarantee complete eradication of duties.

Going back to the main question, the things I love to do now seem not as interesting as before. Teachers are still planning to finish the semester, and are continuing to mount us with homework and quizzes. Students still have to take AP exams, and deal with final exams. All of this has made it harder for me to go outside and enjoy myself, even though I see hundreds of adults pass up and down my street, walking with their families and pets. The grind is still on for juniors, and this continuation has made me less focused on exercise. Before this pandemic, I would go to soccer practice or shoot baskets once I get home, or maybe take a walk or two through my neighborhood once in a while. Now, with the mounting work, I can’t and don’t want to, because I lose time. Surprisingly, Time is still a battle I fight during my time at home.

Moreover, juniors sadly don’t have much to look forward to, as lots of students, including me, were planning on going on immersion trips during the summer or taking fun electives to obtain free periods. For example, the Medical Society Guatemala Trip has been postponed, and I continue to see the listing of postponed trips. Additionally, the transition back towards club soccer and out of town travel for games is now nonexistent. The fun trips and heightened competition are now gone, and I love club soccer. It has been so much fun this year, and I really enjoy being with my teammates, and yet I’m not even sure if our season will end. The FC Dallas showcase weeks ago could be potentially the last soccer event for a while now, and I can’t even watch games anymore. TV is outdated and there’s not much on it. There are only so many video games you can play, Netflix shows to stream, songs to listen to before you’re bored.

The Struggle to Find the “Right Fit”

As I said, the grind is still on, and the expectation from colleges still exist. Some students haven’t taken their first SAT/ACT to see where they are at, and SAT subject tests have been canceled too. Those tests were supposed to be an ideal time because people could study once for both AP exams and subject tests. Yet, people might have to retake them in August, if they are even available to us. If this continues through the rest of the year, schools might not use standardized test scores as part of their criteria for that year, because there are simply not enough opportunities for students to take them. Also, some schools, not Jesuit Dallas, are making their classes from this point forward pass/fail, and so the GPAs’ might also change. Now, I don’t think they’ll get rid of GPAs, but leniency and consideration must be applied.

Furthermore, at this time, often parents ask kids to answer what they want to do as an occupation. I mean, this is a time to ask that, but not everyone is sure what they want to do or where they want to go. College admissions tours cannot happen, and so they are presenting a school virtually. It’s not the same. While I have general ideas about where I want to go and what I want to study, I’m still not sure, as life, just like now, is always subject to change…

Social Isolation/Loneliness

Yeah, people may be talking to each other on Snapchat or playing games together, but the direct human contact is not the same. Technology has made us more interconnected than ever and it seems like we should have fewer people who struggle from social anxiety and loneliness, but that’s not the case. I talked about this in one of the earliest articles I wrote, so check it out, but social media has made us less willing to talk to people face-to-face. We can now connect faster, which is great for efficiency, but terrible for social interaction. The need to deliver messages and information in the past has led to more thorough, organic conversations, which creates deeper bonds with friends, and school can be the mechanism for that. The social part is why most people don’t want to get rid of school so quickly. Yes, I love talking to my family and interacting with my pets, but it’s the circle of friends around me that I depend on for my liveliness. Without it, I struggle. Emotional support is difficult for everyone during this pandemic.

Lessons I’ve Learned from This:

  • Life is boring: Honestly, I have been feeling this way for a while now, and I wanted to truly express this. Yes, being inside all day sucks, but school itself is just as exhausting and not very enjoyable. The world has a deep-rooted natural life cycle for us, where all these things generally happen. We’re born. As children, we begin to learn about things around us and develop a curiosity like never before. It’s great and time never seems to end as a child, until we begin to grow up. No matter what other people say, humans ultimately have a coming of age moment. After all the stress of school, we continue until we don’t need more schooling, whether it’s high school, college, etc. There may be some fun moments along the way, but we still must find a job or look for jobs, until we find a partner to share our lives with. After that, we settle down until we get old and die or see loved ones pass. And, it seems like every waking moment just brings us closer to that day where things end, and this coronavirus has ruined my ability to enjoy the more fun parts of my day. Friends. Sports. These are possibly valuable moments, and yet they are wasted. Time is supposed to be precious and going by fast, and yet my days are being wasted…
  • Blind Idealism creates more harm than benefit: Blind idealism is, first of all, the focus on ideals and generally good things without any consideration to present circumstances and realistic constraints. However, so much of society exhibits blind idealism in their lives in relationships, personal goals, or whatever. New Year’s resolutions are examples of blind idealism, as everyone, jolted by the spirit of festivities, believes they can make a change for the better. That is not a bad thing, but they are disillusioned. Changes in habits that last even a couple weeks take painstaking dedication, and the things people want to change are so trivial that it’s not worth fulfilling a resolution. In another instance, so many movies portray fantastic romantic relationships where either nothing bad happens or it’s so easy for them to overcome it. Perfectionism is an example of blind idealism, and I have had struggles to overcome mental perfectionism. Anyways, once people see those tropes of seemingly attainable things, they endlessly pursue them, driving themselves crazy when things don’t go their way or they don’t get that thing immediately. It can be love, trophies, popularity, almost anything, but a lack of realism clouds them from understanding why they can’t obtain perfection. It’s a fantasy, and real-life is fantasy. I know this rant sounds obvious, but everyone on this earth will experience the disappointment of blind idealism.
  • Music keeps me alive: Let me explain. I’ve tried a lot of things in the past couple of days to keep me engaged. Netflix. YouTube. Reddit. The list goes on and on, but one thing that I can always rely on is music. I listen to music in the background when I work, and whenever I don’t have it on, my life just feels boring and not stimulating. I can sing the lyrics, or just let my brain say them in the back of my head. It can help me focus and get deep into work, or relax and take my mind off things. It’s the thing that I always enjoy, even during this pandemic. I also play music when I play soccer in my yard, or shoot baskets, and cook meals, because I need it. It creates my most authentic self and gets me back into my vibes. Music is everything to me, and I can’t imagine living through the coronavirus quarantine without it.

Even though this time is extremely busy and important for juniors, this shall pass at some point. There’s always light at the end of a dark tunnel,  and despite all the stress and anxiety that will come, things will eventually work themselves out. I wish the best for every single one of you who took the time to read this article!

That’s all I have to say. Check back to The Roundup for more coverage on the coronavirus pandemic!