Right now you should be getting together with friends and talking about your plans for the future. Instead, we are social distancing and being encouraged to “shelter in place”.
Your Senior Year should be full of anticipation of purchasing your cap and gown and walking across that stage to receive your diploma. In this moment, we aren’t even sure if there will be public graduations or if it is even a good idea to have so many people together because of the spread of COVID 19. The idea of digital graduations or online ceremonies is being explored and let’s be honest, it is not what you imagined your senior year to be like.
As a disclaimer, I fully believe that the actions that we are currently taking to stay inside, wash our hands and attend online classes are a necessary step and all part of keeping everyone safe. I am not demeaning this decision, nor do I think it is “unnecessary”. We have already witnessed how ignoring warnings and continuing on with our lives without understanding how contagious the Corona Virus can be has hurt countries like Italy and China.
Please stay safe and heed the warnings.
That doesn’t mean that any of us are happy about the way this is affecting you or your senior year experience. We want you to be excited about the new chapter of your life that you are about to embark on. You should be getting hyped about where you will go to college or whatever your next adventure will be and hopefully you are.
We know that all of this is one huge curveball and for that, we are sorry.
My senior year was very different. I graduated high school in 1990. Yes, you read that right. Just to set the stage for you, here are a few things that were happening during this time. M.C. Hammer, who was already practicing Social Distancing before his time told us “You can’t touch this.” The Fresh Prince of Belaire had premiered on television with the one and only Will Smith. The Fresh Prince stated very simply, but succinctly and in rhyming format, what we all knew deep in the fabric of our being that “Parents just don’t understand.” The phrase “Cowabunga Dude” entered into our vocabulary because “The Simpsons” animated series aired continuously for the first time that year. It…was…glorious. We could also add classic one liners like “DOH!” and “Eat my shorts” to our repertoire thanks to Homer and Bart.
Along with those pop cultural icons, momentous events were occurring in 1990. The “Cold War” was wrapping up between the U.S. and Russia. The threat of nuclear war seemed less likely. The official demolition of the Berlin Wall began in 1990 and East and West Germany started to unite. It seemed as though communism was on the decline and democracy was on the rise to all of us who experienced it.
My point is, there was a general air of optimism when I graduated; a sense that we could do whatever we put our minds to and that a job would certainly be waiting for us when we finished college or even if we chose a trade. The Gulf War had not even happened yet and most of the tragedies that would befall us later, like school shootings and terrorism, were not a part of our experience. Our outlook was positive, our view of the future was semi untainted and we truly believed that anything was possible.
Your generation has had quite a different experience hasn’t it? As one of my friends recently posted, you were born after 9/11 and in your senior year, you have seen a pandemic. Guys, we are so sorry about that. I know, its not our fault but as people who love you, we don’t want that for you. Before you begin to think this article is all doom and gloom, let me share something with you.
You are stronger than you think you are.
No, that’s not a cliche. Okay, maybe it is a cliche but I really mean it. Though our generation may have had a general optimism, we have experienced 9/11, terrorism, bitter divisiveness and this pandemic as well. Our optimism after graduation has turned to pessimism, at least for some of us. The future that we once thought possible seems distant and impossible on some level. It has taken us by surprise because we didn’t grow up with the trials that you grew up with. Sure, we had different ones but not on the same level as what you have had to endure.
I believe that you are stronger than you think you are because you have grown up under difficult circumstances and you have made it! You survived! The older you get, the more you will see how the trials prepared you for your future and you are stronger because of it. Sure, there are difficulties that lie ahead and issues that you face because of the tough environment you grew up in but everything that you need to succeed is inside of you. You have developed grit and determination; survival skills for difficult times.
You are more prepared than we are to face the future that awaits us both!
There is a quote that I heard recently that I love. “Strong people are made by opposition like kites that go up against wind.” (Frank Harris)
Hey class of 2020, all of you are kites. No, that’s not an insult, it is a compliment! All of you have faced tremendous opposition in a relatively short period of time. All of that opposition is merely the wind. As much as it sucks, it will only make you stronger because your will to survive and get through it, will be solidified.
Even though some of us graduated in 1990 and our hope was in the future and the future didn’t pan out, we’re not worried. Why? Because our hope isn’t in the future anymore. The future never had any sort of magical power anyway. At the end of the day, the future is what you make it. We are not optimistic about the future because of what awaits us there. We are optimistic about the future because you are strong. You are strong and you will make the future better than we ever could have.
I am optimistic because I know a battle hardened generation with a heart of gold is heading into the future.
As a follower of Jesus, I also believe that our resolve and hope is in Christ. Because of my faith in Him, I know that greatness and resolve isn’t dependent upon my circumstances but in the person of Jesus. By the way, Jesus was and is unstoppable! If you stop to think that the grave and death could not hold Jesus and Jesus lives within each one of us, on some level, that means that we are unstoppable. That’s why I love 1 John 4:4 that says:
“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4
While it is true that your senior year should not be this way, we are all confident that you will rise above this. Yes, take the necessary precautions and do not ignore them. However, outside of that, do everything that you can to connect with your friends online or through text. Don’t give up on this year because of social distancing and sheltering in place.
We will be praying for a quick and speedy solution to COVID 19 but if that doesn’t happen right away, remember that there is greatness inside of you. You are stronger than you know. We are optimistic about the future that awaits us all primarily because you will be influencing our future and you are tough as nails.
God bless you and the class of 2020.
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6