It is no secret that teenagers and young adults are being negatively affected by the pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of young people had big plans for this time-graduating high school, traveling the world, getting a job, spending time with friends. Unfortunately, the pandemic put a screeching halt on all of that. Instead, we are often stuck at home, missing our friends, and wondering what direction life will take us now.
Despite all of the disappointment and uncertainty in the world, our generation is showing the world just how strong, creative, and resilient we can be. We have found creative new ways to see friends, stay entertained, and keep ourselves busy. This is not an easy time to be a young adult, but we are making the best of our situation.
What We Are Missing
Young adults are not just missing social interactions and high school graduations. We are also missing out on things that some people may not even realize. Milestone birthdays like 18 or 21 are no longer being celebrated in a typical manner. Getting a summer job to help pay for college is nearly impossible now that most businesses aren’t hiring. Even things as simple as going to the pool, the movies, or a coffee shop are now impossible. Every age group has been affected, but for young people, life went, in many cases, from endless adventures to endless monotony. For an age group wired to want to be out in the world–trying new things and making new memories–this is a difficult time. And it is taking a toll on us.
How it Affects Us
Study after study has shown the impacts of loneliness on mental health, especially for adolescents and young adults. During the pandemic, reports of mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety have been skyrocketing. Young people have reported much higher rates of these illnesses and much higher rates of sadness and loneliness in general. Being lonely is not the only cause of these mental health issues. The sadness and disappointment of missing out on so much don’t help. And the stress about what the future will look like does not help either. For some, these adverse effects are getting to be too much. For impressionable and desperate young adults, drugs look like an easy way out–a way to dull what is going on around us. (If you think you may be turning to substance abuse, try this self-assessment for addiction. As much as it can seem like drugs and alcohol can cure the boredom, they carry weightier issues down the road.)
After the pandemic is over, the world will still be in a financial and emotional crisis. Adding a drug crisis on top of that will only make things worse. Young adults need support and compassion during this time to help us deal with how we are feeling.
How We’re Making it Through
Even with drug use and mental illness rates rising, an even higher number of young adults find ways to make the best of the situation. For a generation that is often looked down upon for being iPhone-obsessed, anti-social, and not creative, we’re proving time and time again that this is only a stereotype. We have come up with creative ways to safely see friends, like meeting up for socially distanced campfires, car-trunk picnics, or group video calls. We are also known for the silly ways we keep ourselves entertained, doing things like making up strange social media challenges, decorating the sidewalk with chalk, and trying new recipes found on the app Tik Tok.
What We Learned
Even with the negatives it has caused us, the pandemic has taught our society important lessons. Many people are seeing for the first time the effects of loneliness on mental health–especially for young adults. The joke is that we’re too introverted, too lazy to go out with friends. Or we’re more likely to watch Netflix than go on a dinner date, the pandemic has taught us not to take social outings for granted. We have learned, also, that young adults are more creative than older generations give credit for. We have learned that the effects of missing out on school, friendships, and a typical young person’s life can be devastating.