By Lani Tunzi
So, another summer has arrived in what seems like a blink of an eye, despite the tumultuous last year we’ve all experienced. As the world starts to open up again, however, there’s a surreal bittersweetness, even discontent, consuming me and many of my peers.
The sad truth is that a large transitional period of our lives has been hijacked. Our freshman year of college is over, though most of us have never stepped foot on campus (UC Santa Barbara, in my case), moved into a dorm, met professors and mentors face-to-face, explored a new college town or attended a college party.
In addition, the time when we were meant to be exploring and maturing has been shrouded by a multitude of global events, such that my generation is also carrying an immense pressure to now solve the issues with which we have been presented at this malleable point in our lives. Every day there’s a new injustice to be enraged by, a new campaign to spearhead. To be coming of age in this era comes with the growing burdens of generations past.
The end of the freshman year coupled with the end of the pandemic is leaving me and many of my friends in limbo: There’s a sense of loss for the milestones that have been missed, one that is hard to reconcile with the should-be exciting fact that we still have yet to embark on our lives.
Even as I write this, I find that it’s necessary to frame my perspective with the understanding that I am beyond fortunate. I live in a fantastic town with the support of my friends and family, I have not suffered close to the same losses as millions throughout the world and am privileged to even have had the facilities to pursue a higher education at a California university.
Still, I can’t help but to mourn those invisible losses and feel daunted by the challenges ahead, and at this point, feeling bad just makes me feel worse — a negative cycle that I know is shared by others in similar circumstances. When you’re living through such a significant period of change and tragedy, you do not get the perspective of time. The wounds are fresh and life snapping back to normal will serve as no suture.
This is the point when my generation, known for complaining a lot, has to show its other characteristics: hope and strength. We need hope to continue to tread the deep waters into which we were so unceremoniously chucked and strength to prove — to ourselves and everyone else — that if any group of youth is equipped to challenge and change the status quo, it is us.
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