I could only imagine how you’re truly feeling with all this COVID-19 madness going on. With the unfortunate cancellation of school until April 20th, and for the “foreseeable future” as Governor Phil Murphy stated, I’m sure you all have many questions regarding EVERYTHING. We do not have all the answers, but I could assure you that we will be here with you throughout this entire process. 

I know you’re worried about:

  • SAT’s    
  • Graduation    
  • College tours & Applications     
  • Prom
  • Classwork & Grades
  • Life after High School      

Whether you want to hear it or not, completing your classwork is a top priority. Please do not hesitate to reach out! Keep in contact with your teachers for additional help with work and your counselors regarding questions about college info. And whoever else you may need to guide you through this rough patch; get in touch with them. We are all available.  

With prom right around the corner, and graduation rapidly approaching, all of you are probably on the edge of your seat, wondering if we still have these momentous events. Honestly, if I were in your shoes, I’d be thinking the same. The reality is, when natural disasters such as the one we’re experiencing occur, we have no control over the outcome. We can only prepare for what’s to come, and we have plenty of time for preparation. Malcolm X once said, “the future belongs to those who prepare for it today,” and with the times we’re in now, we should most certainly apply that to our lives.

I recently spoke with my little cousin Talia who’s also a senior year in high school, and she impressed me with her response to one of my questions. I first asked her how she was feeling with everything going on right now as a student in her senior year. She replied by saying, “the Rona’ BMS…if everything gets canceled like prom and senior trip, I ain’t really pressed though…more money in my mom’s pocket.” In self-reflection, I was taken back because, in high school, I was self-centered. Even if my mom saved money for my prom attire and needs, I would’ve still taken the money and used it for sneakers, clothes, or something of not much value. 

Moreover, Talia’s approach impressed me because it was mature. She expressed that the extra money could help her family in a time like this. I encourage you all to be thoughtful in this respect as well. It’s tough for some of your caregivers who can’t work and who may be experiencing economic struggles as businesses, schools, companies, and corporations come to a stand still. I encourage you to reach out to them and help in any way you can. I’m sure they’d appreciate it. My little cousin also mentioned that she was “unmotivated,” and feels “depressed” sitting in the house all day. There are some of you who were already frightened and had doubts about life after high school. This pandemic doesn’t ease any of that angst, but I encourage you to find your focus and stay locked in on your goals. If you don’t have any, this is a great time to reflect, gather your thoughts, and plan your future. 

Furthermore, it’s okay to feel those ways because realistically, being at home, gives us comfort that takes our mind off anything. Therefore, it’s VERY IMPORTANT for you all, especially those who have that peace at home, to use your time wisely. Think about your peers who considered school to be their safe place, they may not have the luxury of having a quiet space to get things done. Unfortunately, we all don’t have the same means, and that’s more of a reason to be grateful for what you have and make the most of this tragedy. You do this by handling your responsibilities. You all are young adults, and it’s imperative for you to begin making mature decisions NOW. 

I want to share a quick story to help you along the way. When I finished up with graduate school, I was in between jobs, trying to find a full-time gig in my field. I had finally been offered a job (in New York) with great pay that would put me in a perfect position to do all the things I wanted. Unfortunately, a day of playing basketball halted that opportunity, as I tore my Achilles tendon and couldn’t take the position. I was devastated (much like the situation you’re in now) and had no clue as to why this would be happening to me at one of the most critical times in my life. I was hurt and felt like what I worked so hard to get, was taken right away from me. After crying and eating fast food for about a week or two, I started to reflect on my life. I couldn’t just sit in my misery anymore and knew that I had to make something of the situation I was in. I made some goals for myself that I knew would change my life for the better. 

A short-term goal I had was to change my diet immediately because I knew if I kept eating, I would’ve become larger than my problems. Essentially, I focused on writing my life story, because I knew I needed to share it with the world. During hard times throughout my lifetime, I would always write about it, and I’d feel better after expressing myself through my pen. This obstacle presented the perfect time for me to do just that. Within a few months of being dedicated, I completed my goal of writing a book about my life. The dedication I speak of is what I encourage you all to have right now. Be determined enough to achieve your goal regardless of what life looks for you. It first starts with staying focused on what you’re aspiring to accomplish. 

Lastly, don’t allow your “free-time,” doubts, or uncertainties to force you into irrational decisions that you’ll regret later in life. YOU are the future, and it matters more than ever now – IN THIS UNIQUE TIME – that you invest in yourself and are resilient enough to create dreams that’ll last a lifetime.