Opinion: The Junior Year Nobody Wanted

I sit at my desk completely exhausted with the assignment I just completed. The warm and welcoming heat radiating from my warm plate, reminding me of my bed. I have my head against a cold smooth surface that I now call my desk as I try to calm my inevitable pounding headache.  My mom comes up to my room, the creaking of the steps signaling she is there. 

“You start working next week,” she said.  The school year just started, and now in addition to adapting to another year of remote learning, I have to manage having a job as well.

Working 12 hours a week as a receptionist at a dentist office in East Meadow, Long Island, and being a full-time student as well as tutoring under the organization Double Up is a pretty hectic schedule. I had to get into the routine of waking up early for school, getting ready for the day during my lunch period, and heading out the door for work, or doing chores around the house after school finished, and then tutoring. My break during the week is usually Friday and Sunday, and that’s if I don’t have a lot of chores and school work to complete.

September:  Of course, 2020 has been the year where everything is not what it should be.  The autumn leaves look nowhere near ready to fall as it still feels like summer, except the break is now over. I’m a junior, finally 16, and no longer treated like a baby. However, my routine is nowhere near where I want it to be. My job was forced on me and I didn’t want to tutor for volunteer hours.

I felt anxiety on my first day of work.  As I walked in to talk to the manager of the dental office, I struggled with a polite hello, as if I was talking to royalty.  My training made me realized how slow I am at memorizing things, such as which documents are more important than others and how to organize certain documents more efficiently for doctors.

October:  School is finally set up properly, as students are given the option of hybrid or full remote learning.  I decided to stay remote, but not because I wanted to; all my friends were going in.  Although I’m still a high school student, my high school life has been cut short. 

November: Schools shut down and everyone is now fully remote, although it didn’t make much of a difference to me.  Most of us at Francis Lewis knew this was eventually going to happen, and I personally didn’t feel anything towards it. I was fully remote since the beginning of the school year and Francis Lewis students were already set up with a remote Zoom schedule so we were all prepared, to an extent.

Assignment due at 11:59 tonight; that became my trigger, and my worst nightmare. How was I supposed to finish an assignment at midnight and also complete other assignments along with maintaining my job and GPA? Getting home from work at 8:00 pm made the rest of my night madness. I couldn’t just sit down and eat my dinner in peace because I would have 5 assignments to do that each took quite some time. I just wished that time would slow down once I got home from work and moved faster when I clocked in. 

December:  The best time of the year with winter break right around the corner.  A break from school, and all things stressful, except this year didn’t feel like that at all.  I didn’t feel the Christmas spirit; I felt like more of a Grinch. Instead of stealing Christmas from everyone, I was stealing everyone’s free time to help me get into the spirit. The holiday season didn’t stop the stock market, so work didn’t stop either.

Snooze…snooze…wait, I’m going to be late for work! I can’t snooze the alarm clock anymore. Aren’t school breaks meant for relaxing, not working more? Later on, I got that wish.

“Take these next days off,” my mom said. “Uncle Wilfred passed away, and grandma and aunt Anna are really sick and aren’t doing well. I’m going to need help.” I thought I wouldn’t hear those words for a very long time.  The news came way too quickly, all because of COVID-19.  Sure, the pandemic made my life more difficult in several ways, but now I realized how serious it was to our health. I prayed that my family was untouchable, but no one is 100% immune.

January: Biden is our president and memes are funnier than ever. January Regents are canceled and life seems peaceful, besides the increasing spread of COVID-19. I’m just getting by, with a mix of stress, anger, frustration, and happiness. The new semester is approaching, and the chance to get more organized with a fresh restart is here.