The recent measures taken to avoid the spread of COVID-19/coronavirus have affected everyone differently. For many, it means losing their jobs, being unable to visit elderly family members, or having to cancel important family occasions. All of these effects are extremely difficult to deal with. Young people are also being affected by these measures.
Of course, these measures are completely necessary to avoid the spread of the virus and putting further strain on our healthcare system, I wouldn’t argue with that for a minute. But that doesn’t mean that people aren’t allowed to feel disappointed, or upset by what they’re missing out on.
Schools and colleges closed
Up and down the country, young people in primary schools, secondary schools, and third level institutions should be beginning to bring the academic year to a close, in their classrooms, with their peers. But right now, young people are finishing academic work online and submitting assessments from their homes. There are many people, myself included, that should be preparing to finish up in primary school, secondary school, or college. It is only natural that you would feel disappointed, or at a loss, that these milestones are coming and you are unable to carry them out ‘normally.’ When the call for schools and colleges to shut came those few weeks ago, it did hit me that that day could, and probably would be the final time I sat in a classroom, with that group of people, in that college, during my undergraduate degree.
Final days of school or college
People often look back fondly and tell stories of their final days of school or college, talking about what they did, how they celebrated, who was there. But for the graduating classes of 2020, this experience will be looked back on very differently. While the reasons for it being different are completely necessary, feeling disappointment around this is okay. Young people are being told ‘at least you’re healthy,’ ‘it could be so much worse,’ etc., and yes of course these are positives, but I really believe we need to stop making young people feel guilty for feeling how they are right now.
It’s okay to feel disappointed that you’re missing out on your Leaving Cert graduation, your final College Ball, playing football with your school or club, your Foroige Ball or event. These feelings are all normal and valid, and they should be allowed to be felt, so that they can be dealt with. I think many people are forgetting what it was like to look forward to these events, and how devastated they would have been if they had to miss them. Letting young people feel this disappointment and open up about it is so much more beneficial to everyone, than knocking them back every time they try to process these feelings.
Supporting each other
This isn’t an article to blame anybody. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed with your own situation and feel that nobody else’s could be any worse. But our society is, now more than ever, displaying how helpful and understanding we can be of one another in these tough times. So why don’t we take this empathy and apply it to how we speak to and about our young people?