We have all felt loss. Whether it was a person, pet, or even the misplacement of a favorite possession, we’ve all experienced that awful sinking feeling. And it sucks. It really truly does. It becomes hard to focus on anything else. You can have a million other things going for you, but the loss of one, let alone a few things, can become unbearable. Now think about the loss of a year.
Okay, you think, that’s one Christmas, one New Year’s, one summer, one birthday, et cetera, et cetera, until you come back to that same exact day, but now you have a new haircut and a new answer when the security guard asks your age in the airport terminal. How did you get there, though? A whole year has passed. What did you do? What did you accomplish?
This year has been strange. I know you’ve heard that in every single car commercial since last March, but it’s true. So much has changed. Everyone starts their emails with “I hope you and your family are healthy.” “I had network connection problems” is probably one of your top used phrases at this point. When someone references Zoom, they probably don’t mean the hit 2006 superhero academy movie anymore. Sad stuff. The global pandemic has taken away the ability to socialize in person, play sports, or even go to a movie theater. While some have been productive and found new hobbies, it’s hard not to feel like this year has passed by with largely unmemorable days.
So we’ve lost a year. But whether it is actually lost or not is up for the individual to decide. Personally, this has been the hardest year of my life thus far. I haven’t lived that many years yet, so maybe that’s not saying too much, but for personal reasons on top of the pandemic, it’s been very difficult. And I know a lot of you probably feel the same way (if you’re reading this and thinking, “What?! I’ve had the time of my life this year!” this article is probably not for you). Moreover, it’s the knowledge that I can’t get this year back. As far as I’m aware, there’s not going to be an 11-year-old writer finishing up my 2020 with “and then she woke up” hoping to impress their English teacher with their stylistic genius. This year is gone. And while yes, there was a Thanksgiving, and yes I had my 18th birthday, and yes the days got warmer in the summer, it didn’t feel like I experienced this year.
I was supposed to be a senior this year, but I can’t help feeling like I’m more of a pseudo-senior, if you will. I never said goodbye to my junior teachers, or went to Prom, or walked around the halls on my last day of junior year, excited for a summer of endless sleepovers, trips to California, and a schedule stacked with activities. Instead, we kind of just… floated away. And then we had warmer days and a lack of essays to write, but it didn’t really mean summer. I didn’t really travel outside of family camping trips. Any and all activities I had set up were promptly cancelled. I didn’t have endless sleepovers or a schedule of activities.
And then, almost like it hadn’t happened, summer was over, and we were summoned back to the classroom. A whole new set of teachers, a new class schedule… and a new lifestyle? There was no first day of school in the classrooms, no daunting assigned seating charts or the laughing in the hallways over the latest school happenings. When I think about hanging out with my friends in that setting, I can’t believe it. A whole year? We didn’t have a Homecoming, with all of it’s drama and new relationships. We didn’t have a toga day, which we watched seniors pride themselves over for three prior years. We didn’t have senior sport seasons. Personally, I didn’t have a last swim season, with a senior night and team dinners and dual meets. I didn’t have a last hurrah at State. I hear advisors talking about what “next year” will be like in my clubs and sports. “But,” I want to tell them, “I won’t be here next year.” Maybe that’s a bit self-centered, but it’s true.
It sounds like the tagline for an overdone teen movie, but senior year is supposed to be memorable. It’s supposed to be fun and exciting; a last dance with your friends before you all head off in separate directions. It feels so much like a loss because there are no redos on this year. There’s not really a “next year.” It’s the loss of memories and what this year could’ve been. What it was supposed to be. Nothing is ever promised, but when you’re a teenager, it feels like certain things are guaranteed. I never imagined I could have a high school experience sans one Prom, let alone two. I imagined sitting at a full graduation. I absolutely assumed I would be in a classroom, learning things that piqued my interest and just having fun enjoying my last year of high school. But that didn’t happen. And that’s sad.
I think what I’m trying to say is, it’s okay to feel sad. It’s okay to feel loss. It’s okay to turn on that sad boi hours Spotify playlist and just get stuck in the doom and gloom for a while, because yes, you lost something. Something important that you won’t really be able to get back. But then again, not many people can say they lost their senior year to a global pandemic; that’s something monumental that we have in common, no matter your experience this year. And hey, maybe “next year,” it won’t all feel so bad.