It’s Time To Stop Blaming Covid

We’ve come to a point in our culture where we’re scared to move on. I talk about this broadly, because it can be applicable to just about anything we’ve been screaming about lately – fashion trends, news or popular media. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either. Nostalgia keeps our memories fond, enables us to learn lessons from hard times, and inspires us to be creative in the future.

As the various graduation days for Central Oregon students creep up, many people have found themselves facing a similar dilemma: they’re blaming COVID-19 for the fear of leaving the nest, an explanation for a problem generations before us have faced. And while this isn’t applicable to every student – obviously, most graduates are ready to get their diplomas and ditch for the last time – it does seem to be a popular fear amongst our departing 2023 class. I know almost no one will openly admit this, but the idea of leaving security, your friends, your town, can be an exhilarating yet terrifying prospect. 

Much of the blame can be placed on the missed school due to COVID-19, from which our graduating class lost their freshman and sophomore year. But the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t a valid excuse anymore — instead, it’s a crutch to blame failure on, and a false explanation for perfectly valid feelings. These fears are normal, but should not be accepted without question. 

The class of 2034 will be the first to graduate without ever having known schooling before the pandemic. Societal expectations change with our times, and districts have adapted remarkably to online school, despite the challenges. 

But nowadays, the excuses, instead of being mostly about potential breakups and undecided majors, are lamenting a lack of knowledge and preparedness for life beyond high school. These are valid fears and concerns, but this shouldn’t hold you back from wanting to achieve in the future. COVID-19 isn’t the enemy—it is the fear that everyone goes through graduating high school.  

COVID-19 seems like a great way to foster insecurities: “I missed out on freshman year!” or “I’m stuck in 2019,” are phrases I often hear thrown around. 

I interpret this to mean, “I’m going to blame any failure experienced in my future on missing two years because of the pandemic.” But honestly, what did we do in freshman year? Whine and complain about two homework assignments a week? (Just kidding. I love you, freshmen. Please invest in some deodorant.)

Online school was a traumatic switch, for both students and teachers. No doubt, the pandemic’s effects will reverberate throughout our generation and those to come, and we will continue to see the effects on our children and our policies. Even though our world is changing, our excitement for the future should not! It is your ability to persevere, your ability to succeed and your passion that will bring forward the future you want for yourself. COVID-19 can’t hold you back anymore. And if you have the tools to do so, by all means, go ahead and grab your future. (Which all of you do.)

The pandemic does not have to define us as a “lost generation.” No matter the circumstances, those who have motivation will succeed. Leaving the nest is a rite of passage, one which should not be feared as much as it is right now. 

One of the most dependable places we can look to for advice is history. After the divisive 2016 Presidential election, we blamed many of our problems on our government, under new management. When Barack Obama left the White House for the final time in 2016, his speech addressed the American people – some ready, some not – calling for a peaceful transfer of power for the President-elect Donald Trump. In his speech, he asked his audience to take a chance, to embrace and shape the American spirit that so many of us argue over today.

“I’m asking you to believe,” Obama said. “Not in my ability to bring about change – but in yours.”

His words ring true, not just for politics, but for a monumental step in one’s life. Don’t be afraid to take a chance, like so many have before you. COVID-19 does not define your future, but let it shape you and encourage you to harness your potential. You have the chance to make your own future. Why not dive head first?