Editor’s Note: Ths post was originally published in 2020, but it still rings true today.
2020 2021 Student,
Back to school in the fall wasn’t supposed to look like this. In the spring I had all the hope in the world that our safety measures and precautions would put this pandemic mess behind us. School would start in the fall and you’d be able to see your friends and give them a hug, shake your new teacher’s hand, and share your lunches together.
I know you’re disappointed, I know it isn’t fair, and I know you’re sad. You’ve had dreams of what your schools years would look like. I’m sad FOR you. I’m even sad for me. I had dreams of what your school years would look like. And neither of us imagined you 6 feet from your friends wearing a mask that hides your smile.
It seems as if coronavirus is ruining everything. On the surface, it may seem that COVID-19 has robbed you of the normalcy of your youth. Stolen precious memories before they’ve even happened, and prevented you from squeezing every last drop of potential from this school year.
What if I told you it hasn’t? What if I said coronavirus has a steely grip on many things, but many MORE that it cannot reach?
Here’s what coronavirus cannot do.
It cannot steal your sense of wonder. It cannot snatch away your curiosity. And it cannot drive out the ambition to know more about the world around you. Please continue to be inquisitive and ask questions.
It is not a thief of relationships. It will not take away friends, phone calls, inside jokes, or playground clubs. Please continue to find new and creative ways to see and interact with your friends.
It will not snuff out your drive. You will figure out a new way. You will be the authors of the future and you will be the drivers of innovation. Coronavirus HAS stripped away regular conventions but left you with the opportunity to pivot and create NEW and incredible pathways for success. Some that could never be dreamed of before. Please never stop learning.
It is powerless to smother what matters most. Your focus has shifted to the most important. Your priorities are beginning to emerge. What is strong in your life will remain, and what was not will fade away.
It does not dampen the little things. Coronavirus cannot take away how you feel when you master a new skill, or hear your favorite song, or enjoy your favorite ice cream. Bank your small joys and cash them in when you need some encouragement.
It cannot dull the draw of nature. There are apples to pick, and birds to watch, and winds to feel, and sun to chase. There are trails to hike, and peaks to climb, and trees to sit in. Let nature be your safety net and your refuge.
It will not take away one ounce of who you are. In fact, it will add to your identity. It will mold you and shape you and you will be able to draw on the experiences of this year for the rest of your life. Pay close attention to what you’re learning through all of this. You are going to change the world.
Coronavirus is not what we wanted for our schools, our cities, or our worlds. But is has not taken away our ability to grow, adapt, and change. As you face this year of unknowns, firsts, and hidden smiles, remember what cannot be taken from you.