BY REGAN HENNING
Lighting the candle, the scent makes its way around the room, muttering its greetings to every corner, and even manages to squeeze in the miniscule space where the teenager’s face meets a pillow. As soon as it invades the small space, it’s gone. The comfort of the hazelnut cream fragrance has roots that reach back for over a decade, yet the situation at hand is a strong wind that threatens the weak flames keeping the candle lit.
Everyone has resorted to different methods when it comes to keeping a cool head and staying focused on tasks ahead in the midst of a pandemic. There’s little comfort to be found in this new way of life everyone has been thrown into. One could go about this by sulking about the lost opportunities, or they could expand their field of vision and look at new opportunities that might have come to light. Having the right mindset could be the difference between a great year, or a slow, overwhelming year.
The words “routine” and “schedule” might not sound like loads of fun; however, they can make things feel normal and allow students to feel a sense of familiarity in the chaos. Setting a routine is one of the first things that students should try to implement into their everyday life. This is even more vital for virtual students. Whether it be going to school, or setting specific times daily that are devoted to school work, virtual students need this routine to maintain consistency in learning during an inconsistent time. Students also see benefits besides the comfort in routine. They experience health benefits from practicing consistency in their day. According to Northwestern Medicine, implementing a routine can cause stress levels to go down, create better sleep schedules, and help get energy back that might have been lost.
Once a stable, everyday routine is set in stone, there’s still room for fun and doing hobbies. The students’ fear of being trapped in some kind of never ending cycle of boring routine misses the mark. The amount of fun activities to do might be limited due to Covid restrictions, but that’s where creativity comes into play. Teenagers are more than capable of entertaining themselves through hobbies or even just scrolling through their phone. Being stuck at home can also create openings to develop new hobbies and interests, as well as develop a more independent personality and mindset. It can be good for teenagers to spend some time by themselves because in this new world of uncertainty, one thing everyone will be able to rely on is themselves and their actions and thoughts.
Being secure with the person you are can add not only comfort in life, but confidence and happiness too. It can make life more enjoyable and give students the motivation they need to achieve their goals and get to a good place in their lives. Quarantining and staying home for months put a damper on the majority of people’s plans and desires, but it all comes down to who can keep their head high and keep moving forward. Having a strong base structure of a routine and security in one’s self is a great platform for students to build from and create the best year they possibly can with what they have.
It’s not rare for life to be delicate now like the single flame burning a candle, fluttering because it’s caught in a slight breeze. It fights to stay lit, just like we fight to keep living. The five-month spring break was a wake up call of sorts and showed students that things like going out in public can be considered a privilege and can be taken away if necessary. In response people turned to other things like running or walking outside to get out of the stuffiness of their house. Teenagers are pretty good at adapting to different lifestyles and this is one of those instances. They want to keep being teenagers and live it out as much as they can. They’re fighting to keep their normal, and keep their social lives just like the flickering flame.
However, that flame can burn if teens aren’t careful. Not knowing if life will ever go back to normal can cause some people to freeze. They find themselves stuck, unable to move on as they simply exist instead of living. In these cases, they might need to ask themselves a question. What if this is the new normal? If that is indeed the case then preparation beats an unwillingness to change every day. Preparing for different scenarios and finding normalcy and comfort in hard situations will be beneficial in the future in case the “temporary” changes last much longer.
Life is starting to get back on track with school, and students working jobs. Although some might still be struggling with the differences, a lot of people find themselves getting their lives, strength, and comfort back. Like the flame escaping the breeze, it’ll burn stronger knowing nothing threatens it. Many students can learn from that and not let this debacle take anything away from their life, and not allow all the hiccups it’s caused to make their year completely terrible.
Rolling over onto their back, the teenager lets out a long breath that they had been holding. The scent of the candle seemed to surround them, tucking them into their bed, creating an atmosphere of safety, warmth, and comfort. The candle burned slowly through the night, and in the morning it was nothing but a small pool of melted wax. The teenager awoke but was not sad at the loss of the familiar fragrance, but happy and content with the new life they had decided to live out, leaving their old, sad, life behind.