On a recent morning I learned that I was accepted into an elite East Coast university. I cried. A lot.

At first, they were tears of joy, but they quickly turned into anxious ones. It didn’t feel right. How am I supposed to move on to the next chapter of my life when my current one has abruptly halted?

As a high school senior, I am devastated. The repercussions from this pandemic have left my classmates and me gutted.

While the new coronavirus may not take our lives, it has taken the last quarter of our high school experiences. With spring sport competitions, senior proms, and graduation ceremonies being canceled as our schooling has transferred from the classroom to the digital devices in front of us, our lives have been flipped this past month more than a half-full plastic water bottle.

Class of 2020, I wish I could hug each and every one of you right now and tell you that it will be alright.

But I can’t — thanks, social distancing — because I simply don’t know when we will be able to resume our “normal” lives. Nobody knows.

At this point, I can only hope we will be able to return to a “new normal” here in Hawaii after our current stay at home order is lifted.

I can only hope that my 421 classmates and I cross a stage to receive our diploma at the end of May.

I can only hope that each member of the Class of 2020 will get that quintessential experience.

Yet Another Crisis

It’s easy to feel hopeless during times like this. Some may even say that all of this is unfair.

We entered the world in the wake of 9/11. We began our schooling experience during the 2008 recession, and now we will graduate with another crisis looming over us.

Oh, and how could I forget the cherry on top of this pity-party sundae? Growing up, we have been told that it is up to us to fix the deteriorating environment that was left to us by previous generations — perfect!

Despite how devastating all of this may be, it’s crucial that we understand that it is out of our control and that it’s time to focus on what we can control.

This is what we can do.

We can embrace each other — virtually, that is — and our strengths. While we cannot combat the Coronavirus hands-on, we can mobilize ourselves to assist others during these trying times of “social distancing.”

We can listen to our government officials. I know that being at home for days on end can be excruciatingly boring, but we need to do our part to “flatten the curve” and support our state’s health care system.

This pandemic is much bigger than us and we need to do everything we can to curb it. It is time to be selfless, not selfish.

We can be patient with our teachers and administrators. They are doing everything they can to ensure that we end this school year with a diploma — whether we receive it on a stage or in the mail.

You have to admit, this can’t be easy for them either. Many of them are having to completely change their way of teaching to adjust to “distance learning” while also needing to take the proper precautionary measures for themselves and their own families.

We can help our families. This is hard for our parents too, many of them are facing financial repercussions and uncertainty from unstable market values on Wall Street.

Cook dinner, do the laundry, take care of your siblings and check up on your grandparents. Do what you can to help around the house. (Where else would you go right now?)

We can communicate with one another. While this is a time to distance ourselves physically, we can still be there for each other emotionally.

We know how to utilize the internet better than anyone else, so get creative: create a new TikTok challenge, create a lunch-time group on FaceTime, or treat yourself to a livestream concert from the likes of Chris Martin and John Legend via Instagram.

We entered the world in the wake of 9/11.

Class of 2020, may this experience teach us the importance of togetherness. We will come out of this one way or another, and for better or worse we will come out of it stronger than ever. Nonetheless, it is imperative that we do not lose hope.

Hope is a universal, free soul-medicine that will keep us emotionally healthy during this global health crisis. Like the coronavirus, hope knows no boundaries. It does not know age, race, or sexual orientation — it only knows humanity. Hope too, is incredibly infectious.

So, Class of 2020, I encourage you to spread hope. Infect your friends, your family, and your community. But first and foremost, infect yourself.

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