Commentary by Emma Uber
On March 26, I woke up to find my phone bursting with unopened messages.
“Happy 18th Birthday!” “Welcome to adulthood, we love you!” “Have an amazing birthday!” and “Breaking News: More than 3 million U.S. workers filed unemployment claims last week, a record high, revealing the staggering extent of the coronavirus’s economic toll.”
At 6:06 p.m. that day I got an email from the New York Times: The U.S. just became the country with the world’s most-reported coronavirus cases. At 6:25 p.m. I turned 18 years old. Welcome to adulthood, indeed.
To me, the weight of this moment encompasses what an entire group of high school seniors nationwide is feeling. Most of us transformed from carefree teen to scared young adult in a matter of minutes.
All the uncertainty of this already transitional period is amplified. Before, we had to choose which career to pursue. Now, we must do so without the ability to tour jobs and schools. Before, we had to decide whether we wanted to move across the country on our own. Now, many of us are doing so without ever having traveled to our new homes. Before, we had to consider the crushing cost of education. Now, many of our parents are unemployed.
Senior year was supposed to be a fond glance back at many years of hard work and joyful memories, but instead, many are abruptly forced to look forward with uncertainty.
Often, I feel that I don’t have the right to be upset, as if I’m not entitled to mourn the death of my senior year when so many are mourning the deaths of their loved ones. When I put it in perspective, I realize that I and the rest of the Carmel High School class of 2020 are blessed to live in such a safe and supportive community. Yet, we can’t help but feel heartbroken – and I’ve come to understand that that’s valid, too.
This year was meant to be the victory lap of my childhood. I was looking forward to distributing the yearbook — a project my fellow editors and I had been working on since the first week of summer last year. I was looking forward to scholarship recognition night — an event I viewed as the culmination of 13 years of academics. I was looking forward to graduation — a day I began dreaming of the second I watched “High School Musical 3: Senior Year” with my kindergarten friends.
I was looking forward to my last day of high school. If I would have known that Friday, March 13, was my last day at CHS, I would have thanked my teachers for their constant support. I would have recreated my fifth-grade graduation picture with the same friends I’ve had for more than a decade now. I would have sat at my computer in classroom C145 one last time. I would have taken the seemingly millions of locker signs off of my locker. But I didn’t know, and the locker signs are still up.
To the class of 2020, what we are feeling is disappointing, heartbreaking and painfully unfair. That being said, we will get through this! In the age of technology, we have never been more united, so let’s reach out to our friends, thank our teachers, make more memories, spend time with family, support our community and celebrate our successes.
Emma Uber is an intern for Current in Carmel and member of the Carmel High School class of 2020.