An open letter to the class of 2020
As a fellow 2020 graduate, I understand that your senior year may not have been all that you hoped it would be. The parts of college we treasured the most, and even the parts we dreaded but now would do anything to have back, were abruptly taken from us by a worldwide pandemic. A lot of “what-ifs” may have run through your mind in the past nine months. I’m constantly replaying situations before the pandemic and how I could have handled them differently so I wouldn’t feel as if I missed out on anything. But, there’s no way we could have predicted this and there’s no way we could have prepared. I know it hurts right now. I miss college and I haven’t even graduated yet, but it will get better. We are strong and we are going to get through this moment.
I think the most important thing we can learn from graduating during a global crisis is that life throws you curveballs, and there’s no way to know when or how, but there is a way to lessen their impact: appreciate every moment. Maybe we didn’t get to do everything we hoped we would during our final year, but think of the memories we did make. When I look back on my time in college, I’ll think of late nights at the library, spontaneous trips, crowded tailgates, and making new friends in class. COVID didn’t take those memories from me, but it did make me appreciate them more.
We may not be entering the workforce we expected, but that just means our experience will be unique. No one has been in this situation before so there is no plan to follow. Don't let the pressure of the traditional path of graduating and moving straight into an “adult” job get to you. Our situation isn’t traditional so you can’t hold yourself to those same standards. You are not a failure if you don’t get hired into your dream career right after graduation or if you move back home until you figure things out. You were simply put in a difficult situation. Your future may be uncertain, and that's alright. As I write this, I am two weeks away from graduating and have yet to make any concrete plans. All I have is hope and determination, both of which greatly impact the place we end up in life, whether there’s a pandemic or not.
Although this isn’t the ending I dreamed of, I’m extremely grateful to have gotten the opportunity to grow, learn, and experience all that college has to offer. I never would have guessed I’d be wearing a mask to my commencement while it was live streamed to my family, but I am so excited to be graduating this year. We may not have gotten a proper ending, but we worked hard for this and we earned it. A pandemic can’t take away this amazing achievement or the memories we made while here.