Misery. Pain. Overwhelmed. Frustrated. Anxious. Although everyone has felt this way, teenagers are especially impacted by these emotions as a consequence of the pandemic.
A few weeks ago, there was an article in The Washington Post titled “The Loneliness of an Interrupted Adolescence.” It was an interesting read, not only because it applies to me and all students at Villanova, but because it really allowed me to reflect on my own experience of the pandemic as we reach the one year anniversary of the March 2020 shutdown.
The article discussed how, for teenagers, the pandemic has been “uniquely brutal” on their mental health and well-being. This is true. I’ve talked to so many of my friends, both back home and at Villanova, and the common theme is that we feel robbed of the best years of our lives. This is the time when everything is supposed to be positive, fun and exciting. However, due to the pandemic, much of this has been taken away, and we live in a constant state of worry, fear and negativity.
What was particularly striking for me in the article was that 26% of 18-24 year olds had serious suicidal thoughts in the past 30 days, which is awful and heartbreaking. The fact that about one in four college-aged students have these thoughts is harrowing, and it makes me think of my peers at Villanova.
Statistically, we probably walk by a handful of students who have these thoughts on our way to class. This is a major issue, and the University needs to provide more mental health resources through this difficult time in our lives.
Teenagers are the future. We are a unique generation that is defined by social media, acceptance of others and now, growing up in a pandemic.
We work hard, involve ourselves in so much and strive to be the best of the best. We recognize that our world is not a perfect place and see it as our job to ignite change for a better future.
We also tend to spend a lot of time looking out for others and a lot less time looking out for ourselves. With so much pressure, we forget that showing ourselves compassion is such an important part of surviving and thriving. All of this pressure can really build up, and with the pandemic, our pressure bubbles have exploded.
As I have had to tell myself, I ask everyone reading this to stop and take a moment to care for yourself.
Be proud that you’ve almost made it through a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, and remind yourself that it’s okay to not be perfect. If this pandemic has taught teenagers anything, it’s that a lot can be taken away from us in a short amount of time. It’s really hard to cope sometimes, but if we keep looking out for each other, things will get better.
Try not to worry about the little things, live in the moment and keep being yourselves.