My high school recently posted a video of all our teachers sharing a brief message with their students. As I watched it, I found myself becoming confused, because many of the teachers were telling us to take time to try new things, or to do the thing we’ve always aspired to do, but have never had time to do—until now.
After thinking about it for a moment, I remembered that a lot of people really do have more time now. A lot of people are home trying to figure out what to do—not what to do first, just, what to do. But for some of us, that’s not the case.
Not everyone has extra time right now
Yes, in my case, school has been cancelled for the remainder of the year. Yes, my dance studio is closed and classes are no longer meeting. Yes, I am abiding by the stay-at-home order. However, I do not have time to try the thing I’ve always wanted to try but have never had time to, because despite the fact that I can’t leave my house, I am much busier and much more overwhelmed than I was when my life was proceeding as normal.
Because while school has been cancelled, students still have schoolwork. And while some students are enjoying this as an extended summer vacation, others don’t have that option. While some students are taking a more laid-back approach in light of their classes now being pass/fail, others don’t have that option either.
Some students are working diligently, are striving to learn as much as they can and are doing optional work that takes them hours to complete. These students would gladly continue getting up at 6 a.m for school if it meant they could be in regular face-to-face classes again, because online school has resulted in much more stress.
And although my dance studio is closed, I still have responsibilities and things I need to do relating to dance. I am the lead teacher of three classes at my dance studio, and as a result of the state we’re living in, I now spend hours every week choreographing my dances, planning for my classes, filming videos of classes for my classes, trying to upload aforementioned videos to our online platform, and trying to stay in touch with my students.
I am passionate about being a dance teacher, and those things are my responsibility, a responsibility I’m grateful to have. I am not complaining, I am simply noting that a job that used to bring me joy and something that I used to love doing is now hard in a hundred ways it wasn’t before.
I wrote this to encourage people to try to be more empathetic
I am sure that I am not alone in feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and discouraged. I didn’t write this simply for myself, in the hopes that someone would feel pity for me. I wrote this to encourage people to empathize with each other and to realize that until you walk in someone else’s shoes you don’t know what they are struggling with.
Tell your neighbor who’s in college that you’re sorry that they now have to try to prepare for their future career over Zoom classes, and that they now seemingly have10 times more work than they did while they were at school.
Tell your friend who works at a grocery store that you’re sorry that they have to witness upset, scared people who come in every day and who take out their frustration and fear on your friend.
Tell the UPS man who delivers your package that you’re sorry that he has to continue doing his job as usual even though his children are now home and want to be with him.
I am not implying that we shouldn’t continue trying to help those who do have extra time on their hands now because that is hard in a different way. But I encourage you not to focus only on those people, because there are two sides to every story, and not everyone is looking for ways to fill their time.
There are so many ways in which people are being affected right now, so let’s not focus on just one. Let’s spread our sympathy to the people who are now, more than ever, stressed and overworked. Let others know that you see that life is harder for them right now, and you are willing to hear it and support them.
And to those of you who do have extra time on your hands, don’t feel guilty about that! As my teachers told me: do the thing you’ve always wanted to do but have never had time for; some of us just won’t be able to join you.
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Anna Spencer is a high school student going into her senior year, with plans to attend Messiah College after high school. She spends most of her time dancing.