August. Wait, it’s August already?
Yes, it is.
By some miracle, or time warp, it’s August already. It’s Tuesday, August 25th, 2020 to be exact. 165 days since Irish schools closed their doors due to, now let’s all say it together…Coronavirus. 165 days.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I can’t really equate 165 days to anything. But let me put it in perspective for you. In 165 days the Premier League could have been played 4 times. You could have circumnavigate the world two and half times. Travelled to the moon and back 52 times. And for all you Grey’s Anatomy fans out there, you could have watched all 341 episodes of one of the best television shows ever (if I do say so myself) almost 11 times. And no, I will not be commenting on how many times I managed to watched the entirety of Grey’s Anatomy over the past several months.
This week I will make the long-awaited return through the doors of the all-girls school I left behind in March. Back to school and into sixth year.
I’m really worried about going back to school in the middle of a global pandemic, but here’s how I’m trying to deal with it…
The Reality of Returning
Would I be lying if I said I am happy to be going back? Not really. Would I be lying if I said I’m not anxious about it? Absolutely.
I’ve been waiting for this moment for five years and now it’s finally here, I’m in sixth year now. I’m one of the top dogs, I’m nearly eighteen, I should be filled with so much joy and hope for the future. Then why aren’t I? Why am I nervous? Scared? Why suddenly am I filled with so much fear about what lies ahead of me?
For the last month the impending doom of school returning has made me anxious. Not knowing what is going to happen. Will the stupid teenage drama that materialised over the last few months due to boredom and an over exposure to social media dissipate? Or will it carry on and make us even more miserable? Will we wear masks or visors? Will we have new teachers? Are we going to be in school full time, or will we working from home online again?
The lack of communication on those points is making this twice as difficult. In a school of a thousand girls, how are we meant to socially distance? Be safe so that I don’t make my friends and family sick? How am I meant to catch up on the three months of school that I was stuck doing online? How am I meant to do a Leaving Cert, that is if a Leaving Cert even happens? How am I meant to know what to do when the adults around me don’t even know?
So, there you go ladies and gents, a small sample of what is going to through my head each and everyday over the last few weeks. Oh, I know, the mind of a teenage girl is a wonderful place to be.
How I cope with my worries
If I had a euro for the amount of times someone has said to me “stop worrying about the things you can’t control” I would be a millionaire. But how can I not? How can I not worry when all we have been told is; “We will wait and see”.
But I have one piece of advice that I can give you. Something that a very smart person said, “Acknowledge your fear and give it name, then move past it and achieve your goals in spite of it”.
Now, what does all that gibberish mean? To be honest, it took me a while to figure it out. Give your fear a name? This is starting to feel like a Leaving Cert poetry question. The table is not a table, it is a representation of the poet’s deepest regrets and all that jazz.
Maybe it means naming all my fears? Well if that is the case, we could be here a while, and anyway, how does a name make something less scary?
Then I began to think about what names are. They are real. They hold you in reality. You give something a name and it becomes real. My fears going back to school aren’t really fears, they are problems and 99% of problems can be fixed. Except for COVID, which for some reason seems set on sticking around for as long as possible.
Problems have solutions. Name the problem, find a solution, move past it and succeed in spite of it.
There's always a solution
Can I stop Coronavirus? No, but I can wear a mask and keep my loved ones safe.
Will there be a Leaving Cert? We don’t know, but I can work as hard as possible so no matter what happens. I’ll be okay.
Will I be at home till Christmas? Who knows. But I can do my best to help everyone around me get through it.
Name the fear, give it a name. Find the problem, give it a solution.
If the last 165 days has taught me anything, it is that hope is so much stronger than fear.
I am seventeen years old. I have survived a global pandemic. I can handle one more year in secondary school. But when it all gets a little bit too much, and the fear starts to overwhelm me, I will name it, find a way to defeat it and move on.