For the past three weeks I thought I’d been living a dream. The idea that my senior year had ended was something I didn’t believe. I’d wake up every morning to the sight of cars lined up behind one another that wouldn’t disappear until dusk.
I would notice the sorrowful-eyed students walking in and out of the building as they packed up their rooms and slowly came to the realization that they were being forced to leave UC Santa Barbara prematurely. But this morning it really hit me. I stared outside at an empty road and empty apartments as I came to realize that COVID-19 had ended my senior year.
I sat in my living room, thinking of all the things I had lost. The first thing that came to mind were the memories that I wouldn’t be able to make. I began to think of fictional moments, like going downtown with my friends, stressing about classes in the library, taking graduation photos on the beach, and moments as simple as making dinner together. These were moments that could no longer be real.
But all of these fictional memories didn’t exude the same pain as the idea that commencement will never happen. The idea that I’ll never be able to experience waking up to the excitement of putting on my cap and gown, and the morning of practicing the way I’d shake Chancellor Yang’s hand.
But the thing that hurts most of all is the fact that this isn’t solely hurting me, but the idea that my classmates will never be able to experience this moment either. The idea that we’ll be the first class to say, “I never shook Chancellor Yang’s hand” — that’s what hurts.
With all of these things taken from me, what’s left is a shell of the remainder of my school experience. My senior year isn’t technically over: I still have to go to class. That’s been a different experience. Looking at the face of my professors from a computer screen was something I thought only existed in science fiction, but instead it’ll be my daily routine for the next few weeks.
I also know that the quality of classes are no longer the same; some are professor-led and others are led by YouTube videos and articles. And although this upset me at first, I came to accept the idea that no professor thinks this quality is okay, and they’re trying to make the best out of the situation. I commend these professors for still having the will and dedication to teach in these trying times. It speaks volume of their character.
I can only hope that everyone gets through this pandemic, but I also know that’s a fool’s dream, because there have been people who haven’t and will be people who won’t. And although my senior year has all but officially ended, it’s really the pain that this world is going through that is a lingering pain that’s always present. If I could do something about the situation I would, but unfortunately all I can do is hide in my room.
Although many of us may be hundreds of miles away from each other, that doesn’t mean we can let our friendship flame out. Luckily, we live in the technological age, in which we could see one another with the tap of a button. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who has the promise of becoming a lifelong friend, because there will be opportunities for making memories later on in life.
To the class of 2020, I hope you all stay safe, and I hope you all make the most out of the rest of your senior year.