In April 2020, as the end of the spring neared, summer was on the horizon, and our Youth Programs were on pause pending more information about school closures, youth programs coordinator Olivia Jones-Hall invited students to pause, reflect, and respond.
In her call for responses from students, she asked…
“In times of uncertainty, we find ways to comfort the people we love. We think, what do they want to hear? What will make them feel safe? Sometimes, we forget to extend this same courtesy to ourselves. What would you like to hear from someone else at a time like this? What advice or comforting message would make you take a deep breath and feel reassured, even for a moment?”
The responses were beautiful and swift. We received over two dozen replies in one week. As you’ll read, some asked for answers, others asked or offered assurance. As our students hopefully find time to rest over the summer, we find ourselves collectively still floating in a moment of uncertainty—of what the upcoming academic year will look like, of how long this will affect our lives, of what’s to come in the face of momentous revolution.
These students’ words remain as pertinent and powerful as ever. We invite you to take a moment to pause and reflect alongside their words and, perhaps, even write your own response to this prompt.
“It’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to feel as if you lost something or everything. It’s okay to feel numb. It’s okay to find joy when others don’t. It’s okay to go on a walk and think about how nice it is outside. it’s okay to stay in your bedroom until it starts to smell bitter. It’s okay to reach out to loved ones, but it is also okay to reach out to yourself. It’s okay to make your bed just to get back into it, it’s okay to leave it and not touch it all day. It’s okay.” -Stella Orr.
“Stop. Take a breath and relax your shoulders. Turn off your phone and get a glass of water. The world is bad right now but there is still good out there. Look from a window at grass growing, flowers blooming. The world is recovering from years of harm. She’s taking a chance to get better. You should do the same. Find yourself. You are good. Everything will ok someday, just be patient.” -Finn F.
“During these times, motivation may not be easy to find, but that’s okay. It is fine to not feel incredibly motivated. Maybe use this rare time to rest and think. Although it is good to keep pushing through and keep up your hobbies, don’t feel like you have to be your best right now. You are not alone in this either, everyone else is in the same boat. This will all pass soon and life will be back to normal, so if you’re ever feeling down, think about the future.”-Max Miller
“Everything is going to be okay. I know you may be having a hard time right now, but it will get better.” -Grace Jones
“Fear can’t solve anything. Take a deep breath and calm down. Don’t try to reach the impossible things, but instead control possible. Nobody will be left behind in this frightful time; you are saved. Your composure can help people around you, and their composure can help people around them. Spread the light to everyone, even though the problem hasn’t ended; do the things you can. Cherishing what you have is always better than living in fear of death. You’re still alive. Thank you for being strong this whole time.” -Khanh An Tran
“Though you may feel alone, and bored wherever you are, remember there are others out there caring and with you through this all. Take deep breaths, do a piece a work you could never get to, and turn on your positive button. Cherish yourself, and take care. This is not for long, it is just an obstacle. Open your eyes, put on a smile, and live everyday like it’s your last.” -Veranika
“I’d like to hear ‘It’ll all be over soon everything will go back to normal.'” -Samuel Charles
“Due to these unprecedented circumstances, I would like someone to reassure me that life won’t be like this forever, it’s only temporary. You’re strong enough to make it through this with the support of our community and family. Just remember that pain is only temporary and a state of mind, if your will is strong you will get through this. You’re loved.” -Gabe G.
“Everything will be alright someday, maybe not today or even tomorrow. However I know that one way or another the world will recover, whether we are apart of that change depends on the human race as a whole.” -Lolli