As adults, we have all seen our fair share of change over the past year. Being introduced to new rules and ways of doing business, having to evolve our day to day lives and for the most part, have all changed our goals and priorities in some respect. But what about the next generation of adults, who were all planning their futures, up until COVID-19 hit? How have their goals and plans been impacted as well as their outlooks on life?
There is enough literature circulating regarding the plights of adults during this time but how are teens dealing with this all? In order to gain answers, The Newcastillian – Online News asked 6 “adults in training” how the pandemic has affected them, this is what they had to say (some adults could take a page out of their book):
Being in Grade 11, Philisile says, “The pandemic has made me realise, I actually do not have that much time. It has forced me to be more productive and created a need in me to work harder and be more disciplined.”
Stating, her desire to push herself harder stems from the negative thoughts which threaten to consume oneself, while sitting at home during the hard lockdown. “The COVID-19 pandemic has been terrifying. One needs to take it seriously and think, what if I get it? What if someone I know gets it? What if someone I love gets it? We need to be more conscious of how we live our lives.”
Another Grade 11 learner says, sitting at home, being isolated from the outside world added to the growing pressure and fears around the pandemic.
“There are all these rumours around our education, we might be forced to repeat the year because we won’t be able to finish our schoolwork. Then there are the conspiracy theories that the pandemic is political, which in turn makes us further concerned about our education, as it is affected by politics.”
With these heavy-hearted woes hanging over learners heads, Luhlelo says, she takes each day as it comes, but there is a degree of uncertainty which she lives in. Affirming, “The pandemic has caused a lot of anxiety and uncertainty in our lives. Then there is the fact that we have to constantly wear facemasks and sanitise the whole time, all just adds to the uncertainty.”
During the interviews, one thing became clear, learners just like their parents are dealing with new challenges in unchartered waters, which are all re-shaping how they see the world.
Looking at life from a Grade 7 learner’s perspective, Shaneka, is another youngster who is fully aware of the lasting consequences of the virus.
Addressing her hopes for 2020, prior to the pandemic, she says, “I love sport and I had hoped to achieve so much this year. But now due to the pandemic, I can’t attend sport and feel I missed out on achieving my goals.”
Involved in hockey, soccer and gymnastics, Shaneka states, while her sporting activities, along with her milestones for the year came to a halt, the lockdown also affected her emotionally.
She elaborates, “I enjoy being out, socialising with friends and family. But now, it feels like I am constantly grounded, stuck at home.”
Nolunthando says despite being in Grade 11, she had her whole life planned out, seeing her dreams and aspirations changing in an instant over the past few months.
The Grade 11 adds, “Initially, I wanted to finish school, go to university and then begin working at a company and work my way to the top. But, more than ever, that has now changed. No one saw this pandemic coming.”
Looking at mass job losses coupled with financial instability, Nolunthando says, she no longer simply wants to join a company, she rather wants to be part of the positive changes, which are sorely needed in our country.
“I am now looking more at entrepreneurship. I don’t just want to join a company and possibly lose my job due to a sudden crisis. Instead, I rather want to start my own business and be someone who can employ others,” she concludes.
When referencing his present lifestyle, Luyanda says, the pandemic has taught him valuable life lessons. An educational process which has opened his eyes to a new way of life.
Explaining, “It is has shown me the importance of working hard. Also, while I intend to still go to university, it won’t be the same as what it was for those before the pandemic. Everything has changed.”
He continues to discuss the sense of anxiety prevailing amongst both adults and school children. “So many people have lost their jobs and the pandemic is scary. It has taken lives. Personally, I know of people who have lost their lives to COVID-19.”
Admitting that while the pandemic did not impact his plans for the future by that much, he does say, he is still trying to adjust to this “new norm”.
“It all feels so unreal, this whole thing happened so quick and thousands of people are being affected by it.”
These punctual answers from some of KZN’s teens gives a person a different angle on this all. As adults, in business or in a career, we tend to find ourselves lost in the challenges which the pandemic has bestowed upon us, often not thinking about how the next group of “us” is being affected, seeing them having to rethink their lives after school.
Author: Quinton Boucher
Edited: Calvin Swemmer