Being a teenager in a Pandemic by Faiza Rezai

This week we have a blog from one of our first year BA (hons) Childhood Studies students. Faiza Rezai wrote this blog last year, expressing her thoughts and feelings of being a teenager during the pandemic. She has shared this with us as her feelings around that time are still very much relevant today. An extremely interesting perspective and an insight into how we have all experienced the global changes in very different ways.

Being a 17-year-old teenager isn’t always as easy as some adults think it is. You come to realise that you’re entering a new stage of life where you not only have to focus on your studies but also on how you spend your money and time. It’s hard to make sure that we are staying on track, especially in these difficult times where we don’t get to talk to teachers and lecturers as often as we want.

I’m a student studying in a Newcastle sixth form. It is the best sixth form I have come across with amazing teachers and very accepting students, most people here are friendly and non-judgemental. They look after each other and always want the best for one another in terms of work and grades.

We are expected to do a lot of work for our course every week, but since the pandemic started life is becoming harder and harder for us, educationally and also socially.

I feel like the expectations of teachers and the quantity of work expected of a student has increased. When everything went online, teachers had to keep chasing students and were putting aside their own time to make sure the work was done and submitted on time.

It is also very frustrating for us students because we were trying to make sure we actively engaged in virtual class activities and avoided being the ‘odd one out’ in terms of work and attendance while some of us – including me – didn’t have a stable Wi-Fi connection or a working laptop.

I haven’t done a lot of work since the lockdown has started. It’s been hard for me to meet these high expectations and submit all the work I need to do because I don’t have access to these key things that would allow me to do it. I’m struggling with the pressure I am being put under from the teachers; they are constantly emailing me and telling me to do the work but little do they know it is almost impossible to learn all the content myself without secondary help.

I always thought that teaching myself the information and content would be easier and I would learn more than the teacher could possibly teach me. I was wrong. Lockdown has taught me that I can’t always lead myself to success and talking the talk is easier than walking the walk. The whole thing has ruined my self-esteem and makes me think that I am not smart enough to do the work. It makes me think I should just give up.

I know it’s not the teacher’s fault that we were put under lockdown but I do think that they should minimise the amount of work they send us and have a little more sympathy. It feels like they think that because of the coronavirus restrictions, students are now free 24/7 and don’t have nothing better to do, so sending us more and more work is the only thing that will keep us busy. This is NOT the case; everyone is going through something behind closed doors and there is always something that affects the amount of work an individual is submitting.

During this unprecedented time, some of the friends I have are developing mental health issues and experiencing loneliness. This is a very big barrier to their schoolwork as it can stop them from functioning mentally or physically. I think many teenagers are so stressed by the situation that they are currently neglecting themselves.

So parents and teachers: please be more understanding and reduce the expectations you have off us until things are back to normal again!

I’m really worried about what the future will hold and whether I’ll be able to get a job. It was already hard for young people like me to find work because all jobs need at least some experience. Now the government has urged restauranteurs and shopkeepers to close their facilities and minimise the number of employees to reduce infection. What can we do? We can’t buy knowledge. My friends and I just keep applying to every job we find but end up getting nowhere.

I feel so sorry for those that have lost their job thanks to Covid because they won’t be as financially secure as they were before the pandemic started, but it feels like the government doesn’t show any empathy towards them and just expects them to stand on their own feet. If it were up to me, I would have given these employees a year’s worth of their income so that they could at least have time to find another job before their benefits runs out.

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