With the cancelation of the end of the school year, and many long-awaited events, graduating seniors are understandably upset. Celebrations, banquets and other activities have been either drastically changed to adapt to the new quarantine lifestyle, or outright canceled. This, along with the potential of never getting to say final goodbyes to teachers and classmates, seems like a good enough reason to be sad or stressed during this time. Yet, as I scrolled through the news, I was surprised to see a flood of unsympathetic and rude comments on an article about how high school students are coping.
Comments typically consisted of either saying that students were complaining too much, or were completely oblivious to the severity of other people’s problems. They were often mocking the students interviewed in the article and making their problems seem miniscule. While not walking across the stage at graduation may not be as upsetting as seeing the effects of the virus first-hand as a nurse on the frontline, instances like this show a tendency to belittle others’ problems because they “could be worse.”
There is no doubt that the struggles a high schooler is going through right now may not be as severe as those who are dealing with the virus close up. But that does not mean they are not real. Invalidating others emotions and issues by making them seem frivolous not only prevents any sense of closure, but also creates a sense of guilt. No students in the article I saw ever said that their problems were worse than nurses or coronavirus patients, yet they were still attacked for sharing their feelings.
I, along with numerous other seniors, am upset that I might never get to see friends that are going to different colleges, or see teachers that made a big impact on my life for the last time. I was excited for the various ceremonies that celebrated the accomplishments I had worked hard for four years to achieve. Not a single time did I think that having to miss out on these experiences was worse than what those who are unemployed or sick in the hospital are going through.
Rather than attacking each other in a battle of whose issues are worse, now is the perfect time to express gratitude to those who have impacted our lives. Whether it be reaching out to a friend, sending a kind email to a teacher or thanking a health care worker, it is important to remember that extending kindness is a much better way to heal frustration and grief. Showing gratitude is not only an act that makes the recipient feel appreciated, but is also a reminder to feel grateful for what others have done. Life is far too short to harbor bitter feelings and compare each other’s struggles.