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Missing friends and a sense of certainty: how two high schoolers are feeling during the pandemic

Scarlett London and Cate Weiser
Scarlett London (left) and Cate Weiser (right) are both students at Community High School.

"Bored, exhausted, and restless" probably describes how a lot of Michigan’s kids are feeling these days. They have been stuck at home for nearly two months now, ever since the COVID-19 outbreak shut down schools and hangouts. This week, we spoke with two of the million and a half young people who are adjusting to this new normal. 

Scarlett London is a freshman at Community High School in Ann Arbor. She said that at the beginning of the lockdown she felt unmotivated and spent a lot of time watching movies in bed. While she said she isn’t exactly passionate about homework, school assignments have helped her to feel productive while staying at home. 

“I think that the school's done a great job of giving us just enough work where we can wake up every day, do something, and feel like we've got something done,” London said. “I think that it's been enough to make me get out of bed in the morning.” 

Credit Scarlett London
London playing a game with her dad, Zachary, and her brother, Malcolm.

Cate Weiser, a sophomore at Community High School, said that she has felt nostalgic since the lockdown started. She said she has been watching a lot of YouTube videos and playing video games that she enjoyed when she was younger.  

“I think that's something that people have been going back to a lot actually,” Weiser said. “Like, people are getting out their old video game platforms. I got out my old 3DS, too. I think it's just kind of like this reach for comfort, like a simpler time.”

Credit Cate Weiser
Weiser said she has been trying to walk her dogs often.

High school is often characterized as a time when everyone is preoccupied with being included. Though she said she wants to see her friends more than anything, London pointed out that one of the bright sides of social distancing is that she does not have much reason to feel left out. After all, she knows what everyone else is up to. 

"I think that there's always a sense of FOMO—fear of missing out—that comes with high school, and now that that's just kind of completely vanished," London said. "Once we go back I think that all of our relationships, or, at least my relationships, are going to pick up where they left off.”

Weiser said that the school closures have made her feel a different, more “general” sense of FOMO. 

"I feel in a greater sense like I'm missing out on being able to feel the changing seasons with my friends, sitting out on our school lawn eating lunch,” Weiser said. “Like, I'm missing my high school experience, basically.”

Credit Cate Weiser
Weiser said in addition to playing Minecraft and watching YouTube videos, she has been collaging. Here, she marked magazine pages that she would like to use for future projects.

With so much uncertainty around the future of school and social activities, Weiser and London said that they are trying to stay positive. Both of them said that they are focusing on things that they can enjoy day to day.

"I'm trying to [think] more like, 'What are the things that I can look forward to? What are some benchmarks that I can look forward to?' Versus like, 'How long is this social distancing thing going to last?'" Weiser said. 

When the schools closed down, we set up a hotline for students to call in and tell us how they've been holding up. Listen through these previously-aired voicemail diaries to hear more from London, Weiser, and other high schoolers who are handling big lifestyle changes at a time when they’d otherwise be wrapping up the school year with their peer group. 

Originally aired on Stateside on March 20, 2020.
Originally aired on Stateside on March 27, 2020.
Originally aired on Stateside on April 10, 2020.
Originally aired on Stateside on April 17, 2020.
Originally aired on Stateside on May 1, 2020.
Voicemail 6
Voicemail 7

London and Weiser are also part of a new Michigan Radio podcast focused on what teens are thinking about, stressing about, and laughing about. It’s called Kids These Days, and it will be launching next month.

Support for Michigan Radio's Kids These Days project comes from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund and The Children's Foundation.

This post was written by Stateside production assistant Lia Baldori.

Michigan Radio listeners, readers, and reporters are rising to the challenge every day. If you can, please support essential journalism during this crisis.

Stateside is produced daily by a dedicated group of producers and production assistants. Listen daily, on-air, at 3 and 8 p.m., or subscribe to the daily podcast wherever you like to listen.
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