Senior year is canceled–and that’s okay

Elizabeth Allen, Staff Writer

I never expected my senior year to go like this, and it would be an understatement to say otherwise. While I certainly had many different expectations of how my graduation year would go, I never would have predicted that 2020 would see a pandemic that affected our lives in ways we’ve never experienced before, and I think that no one else really did either.

Months ago, I thought I was going to go to prom with my friends, and then at the end of the year I would graduate with my classmates in front of my family and theirs. I doubted that these pivotal events in my life would be postponed, canceled, or changed fundamentally, but that’s what is happening now. 

I don’t know how my class is going to graduate: Are we going to have a giant conference online, will diplomas be mailed or emailed to us? I don’t know, and I feel like there are lots of things I don’t know in this situation.

What I can be sure of is that many other seniors are mad or upset about their senior year being ruined. One of my friends is pretty mad about it, because she’s going to miss out on classic high school memories–I imagine that many others feel this way too. My sister (who is a sophomore) is sad that she can’t go back to school or see her friends in person–I think that many other people probably also feel this way.

While I do feel those things, I don’t find myself completely embracing the intensity of those emotions. Yes, I am disappointed that I don’t get a traditional senior year, and yes, I’m mad that this illness is disrupting life, but I also feel something else–acceptance. 

I had to accept that it was inevitable that the virus would come here and that people in our community, like people all over the world, would be deeply affected by this.

I’ve had to accept that I won’t experience prom, I won’t experience a traditional graduation, and I won’t end the year seeing the faces of classmates I’ve come to be familiar with across my entire K-12 education. I won’t be able to give my thanks to teachers in person. I won’t even be able to eat some cafeteria food which, while not necessarily the best food I’ve ever had, has a strange sentimental connection to school.

Of course I miss my friends and the people I saw on a daily basis who I was a little afraid to talk to, though I cherished their presences. But I’ve had to accept that it’s safest if I don’t see them in person and  that right now it’s safest for us all to finish school at home. The best thing I can do right now is stay away from others, for the better of everyone.

And the fact that I won’t end my senior year in the traditional way has made me come to terms with the fact that I am leaving high school and starting college. Venturing into new territory that I don’t even know if I’ll experience physically this year (depending on the way things go, we could be starting college online for all I know). Though intensely stressful and anxious at times, I can still fondly think of experiences through elementary, middle, and high school. And I’m going to miss them.

But it all comes down to the fact that the future is always going to come inevitably, and I’m going to have to chin up to face whatever lies ahead of me. 

Right now, our world is uncertain. COVID-19 has hurt many people, and changed everything into something never-before-seen in our lifetimes. This virus has unsettled the economy and left astounding numbers of people without jobs. It’s changed the way we socially interact with each other, and even how hygienic we are. And an anxious question is always hovering in the background: will things go back to normal?

Personally, I believe we are heading towards a new normal. Though I may speculate that our society will transform into something different because of this virus exposing flaws and things we never considered, I can’t say for certain what will happen.

But I do know this.

I’ve come to accept that I’m not going to finish my senior year traditionally, and the way everything operates may change because of the virus. I know that I’m going to go to college in the fall, whether digitally or physically.

And that’s okay.

Because I’m sure and fully certain, that we all can adapt to whatever heads our way. Even if my senior year being canceled affects me, I know it affects others too–and we’re all surviving through it the best we can.

We can accept this, and we can make it through this, together, yet apart.