I am on the brink of becoming an adult. The thought of the future nearing closer and closer. And yet, this year threw everything off course. The shift to learning online and being in lockdown has changed a lot, and has made me realise so much about being a teenager, particularly in the year 2020.
I wake up, I brush my teeth, I wash my face. I do all of the necessary things to prepare myself for the day. The sun is up. The clock doesn’t read 6:30AM like it should on a school-day. It’s at least 8:30AM and I feel refreshed. Like most teenagers, I go through all of my social media, responding to Snapchats and sending some rather unflattering pictures to my friends, still bleary-eyed and not fully awake. They return the favour, equally dazed from being woken by that awful beeping sound of the alarm. Beep, Beep, Beep… Followed by the existential sense of dread. Usually I’d put my uniform on, straighten my hair and (maybe) apply a bit of mascara. But now, I pull on a hoodie, tie my hair up so it looks decent and just sit in front of the screen.
The lesson starts the same, the greeting and the plan for the day, but they can’t see me. In my bigger lessons, my camera and microphone are off – the large ‘C’ icon is the only thing letting the teacher know I’m there. I type my answers into the chat or use the ‘raise hand’ function and unmute myself to contribute to the lesson, but I’m invisible aside from that. Lessons seem to drag so much more when you’re trapped behind a computer, scribbling notes as you heedlessly battle with your WiFi, which decides to disconnect right as you are about to make a great point. I keep the point to myself.
Thankfully, technology means I can still spend my lunchtimes with my friends, just talking or playing Among Us and shouting at each other through Zoom. The term ‘Snake’ is said quite a lot on those calls. Seeing them behind the screen is not the same as in person. Part of me feels isolated because I’m confined to the four walls of my house, but the other half of me is grateful that I have these devices to not be completely shut away from the world.
Usually teenagers have the pressures of society beating them down, with expectations to act a certain way and get good grades, but this year, it’s even harder. Teaching myself content makes A-levels seem so much more unattainable. I want to get good grades and go to uni and experience the freedom of my youth. But now, I’m applying to unis I’ve never seen and getting grades without two years of full teaching time. Stressful, I know.
2020 is probably one of the biggest times for political activism, however. Teenagers are using their platforms to spread information on current events. I was not ready to sit back and ‘let adults handle it’, because politics and social issues concern my future. I don’t want a future where people are still being discriminated against for things they can’t change about themselves. Being a teenager today means that we have to use our voices to progress society from certain traditional ways. Spending hours scrolling through the internet makes me eternally angry – seeing all of the injustice in the world that I know I can’t necessarily do a lot to change, but I can do my best to educate people.
Like. Share. Comment. Educate.
For me, 2020 hasn’t been all that bad. My sister got a sausage dog and I’ve been inundated with pictures of him posing or videos of him causing chaos, plus the cuddles I get when he’s allowed in my garden. My boyfriend and I had to work really hard on communication, since we’ve only seen each other twice since March. It was helpful for us realising what it’ll be like when I move away to university. If anything, it made us stronger. I finally realised how important spending time with my friends really is. As an introvert, I thought lockdown would be a complete breeze. I don’t mind staying by myself, but I apparently enjoy socialising a lot more than I originally thought.
The biggest birthday of my teenage years will be lacklustre. Turning 18 in lockdown… Yay me! No celebrating with my family, or going for a meal with my friends. Just takeaway and homemade cocktails. I’ve never liked the fuss of birthdays, but I never thought I’d be spending a ‘big birthday’ like this. Any other year, it would’ve sounded perfect, but for my 18th, I would’ve liked to at least seen some of my family.
Perhaps this year has stripped a year away from our youth, and added a mountain of stress, but it’s definitely taught us to appreciate what we have and use our platforms for good. Being a teenager in 2020 means having your voice heard louder than it’s ever been heard before.
Though constant victims to the beeping of the alarms and the looming homework deadlines, I have found that being a teenager in this day and age allows me to be enlightened and educated, caring about politics more than I probably have before.
I am on the verge of being an adult, and I won’t let 2020 bring me down.
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