A lot of things have changed in the United States of America over the course of a few weeks. The economy is headed downwards, and millions of Americans have been laid off in efforts to save businesses. The majority of our lives have transformed by it. In high school that capitalizes on social learning, it has been hard to continue an education at home. Without a regulated schedule, work becomes demoralizing and procrastination becomes more appetizing. Until those activities become unfulfilling and you’re starting at square one. When all you’ve focused on for years is schoolwork, standardized testing, and extracurriculars, immediately facing a reality with no physical sense of accountability is difficult.
You lose time. Time is no longer real.
You sit at your desk at 11:00 AM, and suddenly, the sun is setting. You feel alone. Lack of social facilitation becomes apparent in your inability to function the way you want to. Some people can’t handle it without making a drastic change to their appearance. I personally know 10+ people who have dyed their hair, cut their hair, or shaved it off altogether. (On a positive note, they all executed it pretty well).
I’m not saying I’m bored.
I have so much to do, but I can’t get myself to do it. I’ve called friends just for their presence so I can feel like I’m studying with someone to start assignments. On better days, I’ve taken advantage of the CollegeBoard’s AP classes posted to Youtube, and it’s been helpful. I’ve worked on assignments for classes online. I cook, I clean. I indulge myself in little projects like playing guitar.
When my dad sends me a video on WhatsApp, I actually watch it in its entirety. When it’s worse, I can’t get out of bed until almost noon, and I might do the dishes. Then it’s two in the morning and I have no idea what happened in between. Having to deal with thoughts about myself and about other issues in my life is something I can’t escape anymore, and I’m no longer too busy for my thoughts.
I have absolutely nothing to complain about.
My SAT was cancelled, but that just means more time for me to study. My prom wasn’t cancelled, our school has pushed it back to a date that is TBD. Most importantly, we do not have a shortage of food in our home, we have a home, I feel safe in my home, and our source of income hasn’t been cut, let alone threatened. I go to a wealthy public school, and the school has been serving meals for its students on free and reduced lunches. Our systems are strong enough to financially support online learning.
I have a laptop, internet connection, and access to my friends. I have more time to study, to learn, and prepare. Additionally, I can focus on parts of myself that I’ve neglected, things that I’ve loved but have never had the time to really work on. Spending time with my family is simple now! Before, I was so busy with school and extracurriculars that my mother barely saw my face. My home is loving, safe, and I am wanting for nothing.
However, that’s not the case for many people.
The current situation has been hard on many people, but in this country, and around the world, families and individuals have been disproportionately affected by the virus. According to a 2019 Charles Schwab survey, 59% of Americans were living paycheck to paycheck. For people who are working on an hourly basis, and are living on paycheck to paycheck, any cut in hours is a threat to their ability to support themselves and any dependents.
TIME Magazine interviewed a variety of Americans to learn how they were directly affected.
A Honduran couple living in Iowa City with their four-year-old daughter has no money coming in due to the fact that they work in fast food. They have adjusted their schedule to make their first meal function as lunch. Norma tells TIME Magazine, through tears, that she sends money home to her mother to provide for her and two of her children. “I want to be like an ostrich and put my head in the sand to not have to tell her,” she says in Spanish. Others who are lucky to keep their jobs have had hours cut, disabling their ability to pay rent. TIME Magazine interviewed Cayli Beer, a restaurant server in Kansas City, was making $100-$120 every working day just on tips. She has made, on average, $80 a week since COVID-19 limited business, if not fully terminating it, for many establishments.
The federal government has taken steps to alleviate financial burdens for workers. President Donald Trump signed off on a Senate aid package, promising $1,200 checks to Americans who earn less than $75,000 a year. However, for undocumented immigrants that pay taxes and make up a large portion of the work force that has taken a hit from COVID-19, this much needed check is out of reach.
In one way or another, this is a difficult time for all of us.
I am struggling to stay awake as I’m typing this, and I’m not really sure why. However, I am beyond grateful for and fully acknowledge that I am comfortable and have everything I need to continue producing the same results I had in the past. In this time, remember the things that you still have and are able to do. Appreciate the amenities you have, like a roof over your head, food on your plate, and an internet connection to read articles like these and stay connected to the things and people that matter. If you are working and are able to continue working from home, now is the time to appreciate that, too. This will pass, and you are going to be okay.
How To Help
- The Red Cross has had to cancel many blood drives, and is facing a shortage of blood. If you are healthy and eligible, they can use your help! Call 1-800-RED-CROSS to find a local donation site.
- America’s Blood Centers allow you to make a blood donation to your area.
- Boys and Girls Clubs of America is raising money to provide food for its kids in more than 2,500 clubs, as well as virtual academic support.
- The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is raising money to enable them to personally respond to the needs of Americans due to COVID-19.
- CERF+ is raising money to help artists who may contract COVID-19 and are severely ill.
- Direct Relief is working to equip doctors and nurses with the tools and materials they need to treat patients and protect themselves. Visit https://www.directrelief.org/ to donate.
The Washington Post has many more organizations accepting donations. You can read the article here.