Art by Auva Soheili
“I don’t want to go to school.”
Practically every teenager has uttered that phrase at some point in their high school career. Unfortunately, it’s not the paradise vacation many of us envisioned it to be. But I’m not the only one in my household who has been forced to stay home, away from high school and friends, for their safety. Thirty-seven years earlier, my mom experienced it too.
No, it wasn’t an illness like COVID-19 that she had to worry about, but a combination of the Islamic Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War, all taking place during her time in high school.
While the threat of COVID-19 is keeping me trapped indoors during my junior year, bomb threats kept my mom inside during hers. On nights where bombers from Iraq flew overhead, everyone was ordered inside, no cars were permitted on the roads, and electricity was sometimes cut off to avoid being spotted. On those nights, my mom did her homework by candlelight.
Most of us, in turn, are in no immediate danger just being in our houses. Instead of a complete lock-in, our outings consist of family hikes and sun-soaking in the backyard. Additionally, the majority of us have access to laptops, phones, or tablets to scour the depths of the internet with any questions we may have about our schoolwork or contact our teachers for help.
But that doesn’t mean it has been easy for us either. Just like my mom and her peers, we didn’t have control over the situation that suddenly took over all of our lives. The plans we had made and the time that we thought we had with people was cut short. It’s not ideal, and in all honesty, parts of it have genuinely sucked.
But being able to relate to some of my mom’s experiences with the distance from school, friends, family – our normal lives – has made me infinitely more grateful for the simple luxuries I once took for granted. Now, all I want is to be able to go back, to go out with friends, be able to hug them, sit at our lunch table at school, and take a moment to enjoy each class. It saddens me that it took a global pandemic for me to realize how blessed we were and still are.
Though I miss being social without the distancing aspect, it hasn’t been all bad. We’re still able to enjoy the company of one other through Zoom and FaceTime calls. And unlike the 1980s in Iran, we have a bit more control over our situation. If we keep our distance, as advised by World Health Organization (WHO), and only go out for necessities, we can overcome this pandemic more quickly and safely and be in the company of one another soon enough.
If the distance has taught me anything, it’s to be grateful for what I have. It’s essential to find a silver lining, remembering that others have had similar experiences and come out the other side alright.