Self isolation inspiring teens to find creative ways of celebrating

With school being canceled and most major events canceled, many celebrations have been put on hold, but somehow, high schoolers have found ways to continue to stay in touch with friends while also following social distancing and quarantine guidelines. 

While Coronavirus dominates the news space, many smaller events like birthdays have been pushed to the side. That’s why so many were disappointed not to be able to have a party with friends due to the impact that coronavirus has had on the country. This is something that junior Ellie Marmie had to go through this year. Luckily, from the help of some family and friends, she was still able to have a fun celebration. 

This year’s birthday was very different from previous years, so my mom actually set up a surprise drive-by at my house that some of my friends attended. Then we went to listen to the music at the UNI Campanile and more of my friends showed up to listen too, so it was a day full of surprises,” Marmie said. 

Junior Addison Anderson also celebrated her birthday during the quarantine and said it felt odd to be celebrating during such a difficult time. “Not having a traditional birthday felt very weird this year. It kind of sucked not being able to spend the entire day hanging out with all of my friends and family,” Anderson said. “Typically on my birthday, I spend the entire day hanging out with my family and friends and have them over for my birthday party.”

But Anderson and her friends still managed to find a way to celebrate. “This year I celebrated my birthday with my parents and my siblings. They made my favorite meal and decorated the house. My family and friends also drove by to surprise me.”

Sophomore Marissa Johnson spent her birthday in isolation as well but was able to connect with friends and family over the internet. “I celebrated my birthday this year with my family. We watched a movie and played games,  but I also got the opportunity to Zoom with my extended family, which was really fun since they live in Texas,” Johnson said. “My family was a huge part of my 16th. I woke up right away to an amazing breakfast with my parents having a whole day planned for me. My family also made a Flipgrid wishing me happy birthday and having a lot of people who have made an impact on my life, supported me or are really meaningful to me make videos for me. This was really special to me because they did everything they could to make my birthday special for me, and then I got to see everyone that is super meaningful to me over these Zooms and Flipgrid.”

These teens have spent their birthdays much differently than normal but recognize that the impact of coronavirus goes far beyond annual celebrations. For Anderson and many other teens, trying to stay connected with friends while also juggling school work and other responsibilities has proven to be difficult. “Coronavirus has impacted me a lot. Not being able to see my friends every day has been really hard. We have had to get creative to figure out how we still celebrate things such as birthdays and holidays together,” Anderson said. “Overall, life has been very overwhelming trying to adapt to this new normal. It has been difficult at times to stay motivated and get all of my school work done.”

Johnson also has faced similar difficulties and said that she feels a large impact when it comes to after-school activities and visiting family. “The coronavirus has impacted my plans for photography and seeing my grandparents. My grandparents currently have my car and were supposed to bring it in early April, but because of COVID, this has not been possible,” Johnson said. “It has halted a lot of opportunities for photoshoots that were planned and improving my skills with my camera. It has also affected my church a lot. I no longer teach Sunday school, and our summer trip may be canceled.”

For these teens, like so many others, in order to get past the difficulties encountered by the coronavirus, they are focusing on the future. “After quarantine, I am going to schedule some new photoshoots and start babysitting and working again. I plan to hang out with my friends quite a bit this summer, and I am super excited to see everyone. I also plan to take the kids I babysit to the pool and spend lots of time there. I am hoping that vacation Bible school is able to run as normal and I will help with that as well as hopefully go on Caravan again this year with BigHouse,” Johnson said. 

Anderson said she also looks forward to spending time with friends once social distancing guidelines are relaxed. “Once the quarantine is over I am going to spend every day with my best friend. I am going to go see my grandparents and spend time with them. I am excited to be able to roam around Target again also,” Anderson said. 

Marmie said that although she had to celebrate her birthday differently this year, it taught her a valuable life lesson that she plans to hold onto. “This year’s birthday was definitely a day to remember. This day was extra special, and I am so grateful for everyone who helped make it a good day,” Marmie said. “Coronavirus has made me realize to love and cherish the little things in life rather than the big.”


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