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To the Class of 2020:
There’s no sugarcoating it. You got robbed.
Here you were, coasting along in your Senior year, headed for Spring Break, and then March happened. Everything changed. Life as you knew it was altered forever.
Those of us involved with you have watched as you tried to find your way toward graduation during an unprecedented time, with no playbook to help you through it.
This past weekend, we should have been at our daughter’s university, celebrating her graduation, after four years of hard work. Instead, we were at our house, eating takeout, watching a presentation her university had put together for the seniors. 🙂
It was a wonderful tribute to the students, but not quite the same. I applaud the university for the effort, and other universities who have done the same.
Here was our little celebration:
For younger students, maybe you didn’t get to visit colleges you are interested in attending. You won’t be taking the SAT or the ACT. You don’t even know if universities will be opening as normal in the fall. It is a time of uncertainty for you, too.
For the seniors in high school, you were robbed of prom, perhaps a class trip, a field day, and those last few weeks of spending time with your friends before you all disperse to your separate paths after graduation. No graduation or parties.
If you are a high school senior, be sure to tune in to a televised program led by President Obama on May 16th for the Class of 2020. It’s called Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020. It will be televised on all the major networks and streaming partners.
Our city is planning a big event in June for all the high school Class of 2020 students to be held at their respective high schools simultaneously. So check to see if something similar is happening where you live.
Our daughter’s high school graduation party was so fun. We had all her friends over the weekend of graduation, and they ate copious amounts of Cane’s chicken, hung out, and had a homework bonfire.
All those same friends are now seniors in college, and there were no graduation ceremonies anywhere.
For seniors in college, you were not able to walk the stage to receive your diploma. You may have had job offers or internships rescinded due to hiring freezes. Or you may not have received any job offers due to an uncertain economy.
I wish I could tell you that any of us, as your friends and family, know what you’re going through. We don’t. Nothing like this has ever happened in any of our lifetimes.
We are all just making it up as we go along. My daughter requested that I not start any more of my sentences with “Well, at least…” 🙂 I was trying to find silver linings when all this started happening.
I would say stuff like, “Well at least this happened during a time when online stuff makes it possible to finish the school year. If this had happened when I was in college, before the internet, it would have been game over.” (Yes, I’m that old.) 🙂
She told me that while she could certainly see the positives in the situation, it still didn’t help. It would be more helpful for me to exhibit the proper amount of righteous indignation about the whole situation. Other parents have shared with me that they were told something similar.
So we apologize if it appeared that we did not appreciate the magnitude of your loss. We did and we do. As parents, we just wanted to try to make you feel better and to somehow fix it for you. But we couldn’t. This one was out of our hands.
Hopefully by now, many of you have begun to come to terms with the situation. If you have, perhaps you have been able to make some observations about life in the time of a global pandemic. Things like:
- You really can color your own hair at home if you have to, regardless of what your hairdresser says. 🙂
- Speed is relative in government, and they can move quickly as we define it when they really have to. Now that the jig is up, we should never let them try to convince us that things take YEARS. We know better now.
- The world actually can come together relatively well in times of global crisis and help each other.
- Sometimes all you really need to feel happy and secure for the moment is a healthy supply of toilet paper. 🙂
- There are some very bad people in the world, but there are far more very good people. Seek those people out. As the adorable Mr. Rogers said, “When I was a boy and would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ “
- As any parent homeschooling right now will tell you, and as many of us have always known, teachers are underappreciated.
- There are industries that are better able to weather a storm than others. Pay attention to those as you make career plans. Like maybe buy a few Sonic franchises. 🙂 I doubt they changed their business model much at all except for adding gloves and masks. Sadly, this may not be the last crisis of this nature that we face, so it is food for thought when thinking about career paths.
- You sometimes never know how creative and resourceful you really are until you truly have to be.
A popular graduation gift is a book called Dr. Seuss’s Oh the Places You’ll Go! There is a reason it is a classic. It gives simple, yet very profound advice for starting out a new phase of your life. Even with all his encouragement, even he knew there would would bumps in the road. He said,
“I’m sorry to say, but sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you. You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch, and your gang will fly on, you’ll be left in a Lurch. You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump. And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Unslumping yourself is not easily done.”
You might find yourself in a slump right now.
But you see, every generation goes through something that seems to split time in two. The way things were before X happened, and the way they were from then on. For some, it is a war. Or a major hurricane that destroys their way of life. For others, it might be 9/11.
For you, it is the Global Pandemic of 2020. Things will not be the same for you going forward for a long time. Maybe ever.
But it’s what you do with it that counts. It may feel as though you have lost so much. And you have lost some things. No doubt. But you’ve gained something, too. A forced cessation of all the busyness and noise of life has given you a moment to look around and OBSERVE. Pay attention. Be intentional about your next move.
This year may not have ended the way anyone wanted, but your accomplishments are not diminished by it. In fact, they are all the more extraordinary because of the uncertainty you had to navigate to make it to graduation. You did that. And no one and no virus can take that away from you.
This week I’ve been thinking a lot about The Count of Monte Cristo. In the story by Alexandre Dumas, the Count of Monte Cristo is giving the birthday toast to Albert Mondego, after having rescued him from would-be muggers in Rome who attempted to harm him. Albert stood up to them and basically said, “Bring it.” 🙂
I’m paraphrasing the Count’s toast to Albert, but I feel the essence of it applies to all of you seniors who powered through this time in your life and made it to graduation:
Life is a storm, my young friends. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did during your senior year. Do your worst, for I will do mine! Then the fates will know you as we know you: as the Class of 2020!
I’d love to hear your graduation stories. Please feel free to share them in the comment section.
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