At the beginning of 2020, we heard whispers of a virus spreading throughout China one day at a time. Here in the western hemisphere, our lives continued as if the breaking news on the novel virus had never been announced. For the time being, our corner of the world was safe, and we were sure that if we clung to this security and forced any foreign concepts out of our mind then the virus would never infect us. Other people would deal with it and soon enough the low rumbles of whispers that morphed into harder-to-ignore cries would be silenced and forgotten. Life would move on and return to normal as if nothing strange had occurred. As if lives had not been stolen by a sickness we were determined to quench by doing absolutely nothing.
Sometimes the cries from other countries reached our ears, but instead of running towards the unknown, we thought this was a nice opportunity to practice selective listening. From worlds away, some heard the pain in the voices of those suffering. They expressed their concern, half-jokingly, but that meant they were half-serious too. The tremor in their voices and the glimmer of fear found in their eyes is what gave them away. But just laughing it off was easier than considering the implications of a virus spreading faster and faster by the second.
No one laughs about it anymore.
Talk of the coronavirus will never again be summed up and closed out by a simple laugh. On the contrary, the impact of this virus is so great that it earns its own chapter in future history books. I may have been silly to believe this, but I for one never thought I would live through something quite as catastrophic as a pandemic with a death toll that would rival that of world wars.
And even as I write this I can envision the sections on the coronavirus in future history books. Children with somber faces regard the pictures and skim over the facts of the virus, shaking their heads at the devastation it delivered.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Terrible circumstances are only remembered as such if the people involved couldn’t find a way to turn the tide. We, the teenagers, the up and coming generation, and the future leaders of this nation and world, have the power to illuminate this trying time as the world’s greatest opportunity for good deeds.
I am a people person and a very big believer in the power of community to inspire an individual. I wasn’t used to communicating with people virtually but with this virus, we were forced to do just that. My mind was stretched to think of other ways I could creatively connect with people to build relationships and help them through this time. Pretty soon, any thoughts of viewing 2020 as a throwaway year were tossed from my mind. This year held potential unique to anything I’d experienced before, and I resolved to make the most of it. Everyone was vulnerable now, meaning everyone was more likely to admit they needed help in some way, and I was determined to use my gifts and passions to resurrect hope in people’s lives.
Of course, it didn’t click for me right away. I was inspired by adults and teenagers alike. I’m sure some of you guys reading this were the ones whose ideas spread and ignited sparks all around the world for other kids just like you. You selflessly stepped up in the face of uncertainty and now millions of kids are eagerly following in your footsteps to make the world a better place.
The coronavirus has been an unpredictable and devastating ride, but it’s taught me what it means to truly be there for others and serve them. Whether you’ve been connecting with senior citizens, making masks and ear savers to support healthcare workers, or even taking care of your younger siblings while your parents are occupied with work, you are making a difference. There are so many ways to provide hope during this time and enact change in your community. Pursue what you love with helping others, and the rest will fall into place.
And now, back to the history books. We are not doing this to be remembered or praised. Instead, we are giving back to the world and fiercely loving others so the community we’ve built can have the last laugh. People will no longer laugh at others suffering from the effects of the coronavirus. Instead, the world will rise and stand against this disease as one, stitched together by all the beautiful acts of kindness demonstrated in the thick of the suffering. After this virus, if we continue to be vulnerable, ask for help, and offer help without being asked, the world will become a better place. The history books won’t ultimately remember the coronavirus as the victor against humanity. Instead, this event will be remembered as a great reminder of the kindness humans are capable of and the virus that shaped the world into the loving and caring place it could be in the future. Can you imagine reading something like that in your history book? It would be a refreshing plot twist for sure.
And finally, to the individual reading this, I want you to know that you are loved, that you are amazing, and that you are going to do great things with your life. Why not begin right now by helping those in need?
Share your own story here. Sharing stories is a powerful way to connect with other people. Be part of the Teen Health & Wellness Personal Story Project—like Madison did above—and share your story about successfully dealing with or overcoming a challenge.