(High School Insider)
South Torrance High School

Column: Safety, motivation and productivity during a pandemic

When we first heard of the coronavirus, it was nothing more than something that we didn’t care about. It was happening on the other side of the globe, we said. It wasn’t going to matter in a couple months, we said.

Flash forward a couple months later, and we were faced with a pandemic. Schools shut down, cities and even states went on lockdown, and essentially everyone in the world was suddenly involved.

I asked a few of my friends some questions to get more insight into the thoughts of teens during these difficult times. I think we can all agree that we did not think this would escalate so quickly.

It didn’t really feel real, it felt like something out of an apocalypse book or movie,” sophomore Haley Gabelsberg said. “On the Friday that we found out, it felt like we would just go back to school next Monday like nothing had really changed.”

Many of my friends agreed that at first we were angry, confused and sad at the cancelations of everything. We had everything from tournaments to special occasions like Coachella and Stagecoach canceled.

Sophomore Sophia Ross said she was especially devastated by the postponement of Stagecoach Festival, because it had been an event she wanted to attend for an extremely long time.

For many people, events that had been canceled were going to be the highlight of their year. But after a while, we realized this was the right thing to do. To prioritize safety and health, even though we had been looking forward to so many things.

We finally came around to recognize the severity of this pandemic, and the dangers it posed to many people. Sophomore Allison Stowe agreed with this, basically summing up what we all felt.

“After I discovered how widespread and important this virus was to our world, I became relieved at the precautions taken and would rather have the people around me safe and healthy,” Stowe said.

The realization that practically everything would be canceled really hit me after a couple days. Many of my friends agreed that the changes were pretty drastic and took some time to adapt to, especially the online school system and the cutoff from face to face human interaction. 

Spring sports were basically over. I wasn’t allowed to leave the house. All I could do was stay inside, do my work, and go on a run by myself every day. Once I kind of got over this slump of feeling that there was almost nothing to do, I realized this was the perfect time to implement some new habits that would be beneficial to me in the future. Some of these habits included yoga, meditation, strength training, reading, and writing. 

Sleep has also changed quite a bit. We don’t have as much structure as we did before, and this means we can sleep and wake up at basically whatever time we want, which is honestly an advantage. After days and months of sleep deprivation, we all have the chance to sleep in. 

With all this time, we can catch up on all our work that we have been putting off for a long time. AP tests are coming up, and we still have a lot of studying and reviewing on our own to do, especially since we don’t have face to face help from our teachers and peers.

Speaking of AP tests, the College Board has decided to change the exam format into a 45-minute at-home home. Although this might seem like an advantage to many people, a part of us all wanted to show what we had learned over this school year.

The AP test wasn’t something I was necessarily looking to, but it was something that I had worked towards this whole school year and I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it,” Gabelsberg said. 

Occasionally I’ll get this feeling of “what is there even to work for?” especially when I know I should keep training by myself in case the season suddenly does end up happening. But for myself and a lot of other people, motivation is something we all lack during these difficult times.

To think we are living through an event that will definitely be in a history textbook, later on, is absolutely insane. But still, we always manage to catch ourselves scrolling on our phones with no purpose, no motivation, and no inspiration.

I find that I’m able to get a lot of work done in the morning, but once I take a break, it’s hard for me to focus again,” sophomore Avery McDowell said.

This is certainly the case for many people, and definitely one of the negative perspectives of having no real structure in our lives to keep us on track. We are forced to be responsible teens, instead of ones mindlessly going through the motions of school every day.

This is when we can find structure in our own lives, find ways to make ourselves happier, and to really focus on making our lives the best that we can live it.

I believe that this is really the time when we need to focus on spreading love. Although this sounds very cliche, we are really all in this together. And even though we have things to do and tasks to complete, we can still have fun. We can still enjoy something to lighten the mood, when practically every single sentence nowadays starts with coronavirus.

For my family and me, this means some “Just Dance,” or maybe board games and even basketball in the backyard. There are so many things you can do to make yourself happier, even though it sounds impossible at times. Focus on the little things you can control, like maybe making yourself a great breakfast or even just reading one page of a book.

These things, although they seem pretty useless and small, will eventually help your mood and increase your productivity. It’s true, we want to be involved and actively learning about the world, but sometimes, it’s good to forget things. To have fun every once in a while. To be able to relax and not stress about every little mishap that comes our way.

Something important to think about is to look at the bigger picture. This, although it seems terrible, is only a (significant) bump in the road. This is the time we can utilize to recuperate, to recover, to reflect on our lives and what we can do to better it. These are the times we should live without regret, without feeling like we could have done more.

So please, practice social distancing for the safety of others. Focus on yourself for once. Focus on becoming the person you want to become, rather than just doing nothing and pitying yourself for all the things that have gone wrong. You have all the time in the world. You can do this.

And please, wash your hands.