September 2021: Teenage Voice

August 23 2021

The forgotten generation

I'M sure we're all in agreement that the last few years have been extremely difficult, not one of us has escaped this turmoil unscathed. We've lost motivation, jobs, and even family members and friends, during the biggest crisis that many of us will ever experience.

But in the case of young people, we had to manage these unprecedented times, while still attending school on virtual platforms as well as potentially continuing caring roles for family members or working in key sectors that before now, we took for granted.

Thousands of us volunteered our time, running errands for neighbours and those in need: fetching food, prescriptions, parcels, and anything else that one may need in times of self-isolation.

On top of all of this, students continued studying for potentially life-altering qualifications, not knowing if exams would even take place or otherwise how fairly their grades would be given. The quality of lessons was affected massively due to teaching being moved online, as well as all the IT issues that came with this.

However, despite all of these complications, nearly 4 out of 5 GCSE students left school with standard passes or higher, while older students were awarded esteemed university places and the jobs of their dreams. 

Of course, there is no "one experience" of the pandemic, and while a few of us thrived, others of us suffered severely, and this is something that we need to recognise moving forwards. 

This pandemic has changed almost everything about our lives, whether that be from the way we work, relax, or how our friendships have been forced to move online. We're lucky that sites such as Zoom have emerged from the darkness during these times, as if it wasn't for them, our social lives are likely to have dissolved altogether, even if they are now digitalised. Before now, we often took our social lives for granted, never realising how desperately we needed a hug from a loved one until we no longer could. This period of solitude was detrimental for all of us, with such interaction being critical to both our physical and mental wellbeing, and without it, many of us hit rock bottom.

I'll admit that I personally have found the past few years incredibly difficult. My mental health had hit an all-time low and with the lack of funding for mental health services, I truly felt alone - a familiar story for tens of thousands of others. The days felt like weeks, and the weeks, months, and by the end of it, four months felt like forty. 

This isn't a shock, with millions of us locked down in our homes for months on end, there was no way any of us could have come out entirely unharmed. Thousands of young people have been admitted to hospitals, whether that be due to physical complications following a diagnosis of Covid-19 or for crisis mental health support, both, quite frankly, as potentially detrimental as each other. 

If nothing else, we must learn to have much more tolerance and gratitude towards young people, who will be the ones to rebuild our world for the next generation.

Yes, we may have come out of this mess with far fewer Covid-19 fatalities than our older counterparts, but we too have come out just as scarred, and with so much more weight on our shoulders, for we are to be those responsible for our future.

by George Townsend