This pandemic has been especially difficult for young people. Preschool children are restricted from playing in the schoolyard, high school students are missing their prom, college-bound seniors are unsure of the admissions criteria at their chosen schools, and many other obstacles that will take too long to list. It’s hard not to feel resentful. Life goes on, and yet, it’s at a standstill. It is inevitable to feel the urge to be a part of the larger world, and luckily, we live at a time when this is possible!
One of the most rewarding and eye-opening activities is volunteering with programs and organizations in whose mission you believe. At a time when direct interaction is discouraged, there are hundreds of volunteer opportunities where you can help virtually. These can be as simple as interacting with a resident of a care home via Zoom or Skype or tutoring a younger student online.
While there is some commitment involved, most of these opportunities have open volunteer hours and you can determine how much time you want to dedicate to your engagement per week. Not only will you reconnect with the outside world and broaden your horizons, but you can help someone else feel less lonely.
Social Media and Online Forums
Online discussion boards and social media channels can be a great way to find like-minded individuals and persons who share your interests. People from all over the world use Reddit boards, TikTok, Instagram, and other social media, to share opinions, give advice, and feel like a part of a bigger world. Whether you are living in an urban metropolis like London or a small town in rural Canada, you can feel seen and heard via discussion boards and social media accounts.
Exercise some caution when using these outlets. Firstly, some discussion boards, such as Reddit, can often be a place of negativity and misinformation. Do not engage with rude and irrational users. Secondly, do not believe everything you read on forums or social media channels. Do not give out your personal information and avoid providing any social media account info to your interlocutors. One of the big setbacks of the online world is that not everything is as it seems. Be mindful of your mental health and personal information.
Many high school students are in anticipation of the college application season. As they should be! It’s an exciting time for aspiring college students. But the pandemic put a big question mark in many people’s plans. How do you make yourself stand out in college essays when you have been essentially locked inside for more than a year? How can you convince the admissions committee to choose you over other applicants?
We have already spoken about volunteering, but there are more extracurriculars you can get involved in. There are dozens of online colloquia where you can give a presentation or a speech and impress the college committee with your research and communication skills. If public speaking is not your forte, take an online summer program or a course that will help you develop the skills necessary for your chosen field.
Speaking of professional fields, if you are considering the premed track in college, you can start participating in necessary medical school requirements in high school! Online shadow sessions with physicians across North America are becoming the norm and all you need to do is ask to shadow a physician via email or phone.
Connecting with the rest of the world is still a challenge during the time of physical isolation, but there are ways to rejoin the world and create meaningful relationships with people. If you are doubtful whether online interactions will give you the same sense of fulfillment as in-person volunteering or an academic gathering like a conference, you are not alone. But “getting out there” is always worth a try! Whether you are just looking to find new friends or want to bolster your college applications, you might be surprised to find exactly what you need. Meeting and helping people online can be just as rewarding as doing it in person. If you are feeling lonely or idle in these trying times, remember that you are not alone. Get out there and find the right activity for you!