Senior Moments Cancelled: What It’s Like To Graduate In 2020

The first three years of high school are spent impatiently awaiting the last month of senior year. We trudge through early mornings, crowded hallways, and unfamiliar and often unpleasant smells, all for the blissful existence that is being a senior in May. Prom, senior trip, and graduation are all markers of the end of an incredibly important chapter in a high schooler’s life.

Each year, they are united in the excitement of what’s to come, and the feeling of freedom that’s just around the corner. They share in the thrill of pulling senior pranks or skipping school with zero consequences.

My class, this class of 2020, is united for entirely different reasons. We’ve missed out on these last moments of adolescence.

The week before spring break, my classmates and I debated ideas for our senior follies skits, an annual tradition and bonding experience that involves the senior class roasting our high school. We had no idea that in ten days the world would be completely changed. 

As we eagerly counted down the days till graduation, none of us thought we would miss high school if it was suddenly over. But every Group FaceTime with friends comes with at least a little bit of moping about things we didn’t realize we’d been looking forward to.

This is a strange year to be alive. For seniors about to transition between high school into college — one of the most pivotal stages in life — this is especially true. We have all been faced with the fact that many of us weren’t ready for this time to be over.

It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of worrying about when this will all be over.

I, for one, am constantly feeling a mixture of unhappiness over missing out and guilt for being upset over seemingly trivial moments. Obviously, there are larger concerns than being unable to finish high school properly right now, and there’s a lot of pressure from social media to “suck it up.”

But this guilt is valid, and it’s good to help keep things in perspective. Feeling as though something important has been taken away from us is completely natural, and we have every right to mourn it. Even if senior prom isn’t the biggest thing in life, the memories we should have been making with our specific group of people would have been irreplaceable.

These milestones are special not because of the events themselves, but because of the feeling of togetherness they should have brought with our classmates of twelve years. A togetherness which is now impossible.

I’ve found it difficult to find the bright side of things lately. Every news outlet discusses restrictions and floats the phrase “new normal” nonstop. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of worrying about when this will all be over.

Many of us have “celebrated” our eighteenth birthdays while sheltering-in-place and when we begin our lives as independent adults, we’ll be entering a world full of unknowns. The transition into adulthood is hard. Add in the uncertainty of what our society will look like, and it suddenly seems ten times more overwhelming. This uncertainty has been my greatest stressor.

I know for myself and people my age, we are so ready for everything to be normal again. With all of our activities canceled, we have been left to dream of how we can make up those moments once we’re able to get together. I’d like to think that everyone has moved past lamenting what could have been and started planning and hoping for the future.

Of course, I am still a little blue that our original plans as a class have been derailed, but I can look forward to the upcoming memories my dearest friends and I will make once it’s safe.

The separation has somehow brought us closer together, and we look forward to the hope of spending summer together and going to college in the fall.

We still are excited to move on and start a new chapter in our lives, even if it’s not exactly what we expected. 

About The Author

Cora Fitch

My name is Cora Fitch, I’ve lived in Athens, Ohio my whole life and plan to continue living here as I attend Ohio University in the fall. I’m patiently waiting to be able to continue playing gigs with my band and return to full-time student life. I love painting and spending the majority of my time looking for cool spots in my local wilderness.

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