ThreeSixty’s Writing Challenge is open to all high school students throughout April 2020. Each week, students are asked to submit their responses, and we pick the top three.
Week 1 prompt: Write a letter to your future self about what you learned during this time.
Here are the top three responses:
By Emil Liden, junior at Minnetonka High School
As a forewarning, I recommend reading this letter in a public place such as a coffee shop. Not because I like coffee shops; but because when I wrote this letter, they were all closed, and I had to write it while I was stuck at home. So maybe, for both of our sakes, get out of the house while you can. Jokes aside, you and I have had some pretty exciting moments: our first time driving, that time we crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, and even the day we woke up at 2 a.m. and couldn’t go back to bed so we watched YouTube the whole morning.
Those times were fun! But remember that time when life slowed down? And I mean REALLY slowed down. Remember being stuck at home because the world was on lockdown for the coronavirus? How school moved online, and we spent a lot of time washing the dishes because we just felt so bored? So that time when those coffee shops were closed? Yeah this is that time. Life changed so quickly. One day you were jumping from school to club meeting to soccer practice, and then it just stopped.
But while your life slowed down, someone’s didn’t. Awita had a simple routine. You’d get her up in the morning and take her to the bathroom because she couldn’t walk on her own. After breakfast came a seemingly endless day sitting in a chair all by herself in an empty house with nothing to do but watch TV. She would wait all day for the half-hour we’d spend as a family praying the rosary together: the limited human contact she had all day.
Then, you’d helped her back into bed and the next day would be the same old thing. And even though the world was on lockdown, she continued her life like nothing had changed. While the whole world’s routines changed during quarantine, hers didn’t. By some odd chance, we became like her. We stayed at home every day and distracted ourselves any way we could. Just like she would do, we would do.
I think for one of the first times in our life we learned a valuable and very powerful tool: empathy. By going through what she went through, we stepped in her shoes. We learned what it was like to be stuck at home with nothing to do just waiting for the day when we could go out again. It’s easy to assume what other people are going through, but once you go through it, you will never think that way again. Whenever you have a situation in front of you where you have to step into someone else’s shoes and look at things from where they are standing, I want you to remember your grandmother. I want you to remember the time that you felt her pain and her longing for something more than just sitting in front of the TV all day with nothing else to do. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. And if Awita is still around, give her a hug for me.
By Johanna Flaherty, sophomore at Simley High School
Dear Future Self,
This is you as a sophomore during the intense year of 2020. I’m sending this letter to remind you of the crazy and not so crazy stuff that happened during your sophomore year, and how you can use those experiences as lessons for future mishaps.
Remember the time you threw a snow ball at your best frenemy, and it ended up hitting a little child? If you don’t want to hit little children with snowballs in the future, you have to take precautions! If you can’t throw to save your life; get closer so you don’t need so much power. If your aim sucks; don’t even throw it. Just run up and smash it into their face!
These sorts of experiences may be embarrassing (especially if you have to get scolded by said child’s mother in front of your ski team) but they are very important for your own character growth!
Our mistakes let us know what we need to improve on, while our victories let us know we are on the right track. For instance, do you remember when that kid made fun of you for wearing a mask to school? Saying something like, “Ooh, did you get rabies?” Well you better! You were pretty impressive for rolling with the punches, with your knockout comeback, “Yeah, I did. You better be careful, I’m contagious!” And you successfully grossed him out with a wet Kleenex. (It was just a little hand sanitizer, but he didnt need to know that)
Overall, just keep rolling with a punches, and try to remember the good times. We both know that free time does not mean laze-around time, so do something productive and fun when you get the chance.
By Dedeepya Guthikonda, sophomore at Edina High School
If you’re reading this, you are probably out and about, excited to see the everyday places you’ve missed and the people who have been resorted to faces on a phone screen for the past few months. If we’re being honest, you’re probably feeling like you’ve missed more than you gained. You’ve missed the little, the big, everything that makes your life what it is. School, which was once made up of long, exhausting days you dreaded, is now something you’re looking forward to.
There’s no doubt it’s easier than harder to move on. Because now, everything has become something you’re excited for. This is what I want you to know: hold onto this feeling. Remember what it feels like to be grateful for the little things. Hug the people you’ve missed and tell them what they mean to you. When your teachers teach–learn. When your parents lecture you– listen. Because know, you know. You know how easily your life can slip out of control. How easily you can lose the people you love, and how a seemingly far-away headline on the news can become the reality of your community. Value the everyday normal in your life and be just as excited to see people you’ve missed as you are right now, every day.
Always remember the good that came out of this. From the meals made for the homeless, the masks sewn for the doctors and nurses, to the car-parade birthday party thrown for your next-door neighbor, know that the darkest times are when we search for light. Light that came in the form of birthday cards sent to the elderly, the teacher who came to help through the window, and toddlers crashing Zoom calls. Cherish everything silly, kind, and good-hearted. Thank your teachers, your doctors and grocery-store workers. Think about all the strangers helping strangers, and be more open to helping anyone and everyone, in your own life.
Carry this spirit with you and remember to spread the good during good times too.