This is not the way it was supposed to be, I know…the last few months of your senior year. Yet here we are, separated, isolated, bordering on alienated (at least in our minds) as we shelter in place. While it may not be the final semester that you envisioned, I want you to stay encouraged. Here’s why…

You Are Needed
Many of you may be feeling trepidation about the future, now more than ever. Much of the country, including major industries, has all but shut down. The unemployment numbers are staggering, making any job search more daunting. Yet, I still say don’t give up, don’t count yourselves out, not now. Why? We need you. No matter what’s happened, you are our most precious resource, our future. And you hold the promise of a thousand generations before you. This is your time.

“Crisis breeds innovation and vision…and hope.”

college senior ©istockphoto.com / PeopleImages

You are a Part of History Now
Whether or not you’ve chosen to be, you are a part of history in the making. What’s more, you have history on your side. Time and time again, in seasons of crisis, this country has seen a resurgence of our best and brightest. Crisis breeds innovation and vision and hope. And you, my seniors, you are our hope. Many of our greatest inventions came about out of need, out of lack. A recent article shows us exactly that: “Tea Bags, Duct Tape and 18 Other Inventions Born in Times of Crisis.” Even now, out of necessity, we’re seeing ingenuity at its best.

And guess what? There are people working out there (grocery, delivery, online services, etc.) and new jobs are evolving out of this need. Back in 2009, at the height of our last recession, we had reminders that some of our best modern developments were actually “recession inventions,” like the iPod and Xerox copiers. Add to that duct tape, radar, digital photography—old and new, they all came about during times of depression and recession. 

“One act of kindness can wipe out a multitude of fears.”

Find Meaning in Doing the Meaningful
It’s the waiting that can get to you: not knowing when this will be over. So, use your time in meaningful ways, like delivering food or supplies to those who are vulnerable and in need. One act of kindness can wipe out a multitude of fears. The truth is, you will get past this. The question is, how would you like to pass the time?

There is one important lesson that I want you to take away from all of this, if nothing else: Resilience. You have it. It is in you. Just remember, you are stronger than this. And you’ve been given the gift of perspective. What may seem insurmountable now is just a small drop in the placid pool that is your life. What does one assignment, one task, measure in the scope of life? When others are fighting to survive, what is one bad day? Life is what truly matters, and we’ve now been reminded of that. I want you to live yours to the fullest.

So, as you approach the final weeks of your last semester, go out into the world freely, fearlessly and prepared to meet any challenge that might come your way. I believe in you, as do so many around you. This is your time.

Regina Cash-Clark is a wife and mother of four (twins plus two) who lives in Somerset, Franklin Township. She teaches writing as a full-time faculty member at Ramapo College of New Jersey.

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