Youth: A New Perspective of the World
A high school senior’s philosophical musings on the pandemic.
Just how unpredictable can life as an Indian-American youth be, in the suburbs of Atlanta? Plenty, I’ve realized, as the Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant statewide quarantine have rudely brought home a new perspective of the world to me. Trapped in my house, it feels as if I have suddenly acquired a deep insight into the realities of existence.
I was speaking to a friend recently about his college experience. He described how, once you leave the comfort of your home, it’s as if you’ve entered a new dimension; one where you’re like a newborn, taking one step at a time to explore an unfamiliar world around you, armed with practically no knowledge. I didn’t really understand what he said at the time, but this pandemic has shown me how little I know of this world, how little of this world anyone knows about.
Locked down at home, one thing that really hit me was how much in life I take for granted. Everything that has happened in my life until now—I’ve considered it a right rather than a privilege, a blessing. On the first day that schools announced the cancellation of classes, I was ecstatic! I said to myself, finally, a break from school. In fact, I’m pretty sure everyone felt the same way. But if you ask those very same students now, I guarantee you they would all say that they miss school. That includes me. After a week, I started to realize, to my surprise, just how much I missed everything about school—the friend groups, even the “horrible” exams. From literature to lunch, I missed it all. I missed the variety of experiences, the feeling of being active, rather than sitting at home in an all-encompassing boredom.
This quarantine has also helped me learn more about myself. For instance, it showed me just how much pride I take in being productive. I’ve always loved creative work, but until I was deprived of the ability to do anything, I was unable to see how vitally my life revolves around imagination and creative activity. Sitting around and playing video games all day may sound like heaven to some, but it is hell for me. That’s why, when spring break rolled around and all my digital work ceased, I picked up my guitar and began to strum for a while. I learned that I need something to work on, something to build, something to learn from. I need to challenge myself; otherwise, I’ve realized, life is pointless.
As for the pandemic, I believe it represents one sharp message—life is short. Typically, people will interpret this as “live the life you want to live, make the choices you want to make.” But I have another view. I believe that this pandemic serves as a hard reminder to all those who take their prosperity for granted, to all those who self-indulge with wealth that could be used to save others, to all the people who believe that they are entitled to live in such a free country. This pandemic says to all those individuals, “Life is short, and there’s no altering the unpredictability of the future. But as humans and citizens, we have a responsibility to cushion the blow from harsh events for those less privileged. We have a responsibility to appreciate what we have and just how much it means to be able to live well in this world.”
Of course, as a teenager, there is only so much I can do, but that is why young people like me everywhere look up to adults more experienced in worldly matters; we have expectations from them to be able to work together, fix problems, and speak up for the less privileged, whose voices go unheard.
Abhinav Iyer is a high school honors student at Chattahoochee High School, Johns Creek, GA. Besides a deep engagement with writing poetry and composing/playing music, Abhinav has been an active volunteer with Vibha’s Atlanta chapter, Beta Club, and HOSA (Health Occupation Students of America). He is currently an intern at Khabar.
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