Isolated by Danielle London - Photo by Caroline Koppel

When I look outside of my bedroom window, I see smiling kids riding on sleds one on top of the other, large family gatherings, and people casually hanging out together on street corners. I don’t see people wearing masks. I don’t see people social distancing. People are acting like they are not aware of the dire situation that we are living in today. They act like everything is fine. But it’s not fine. Nothing is fine anymore. I wonder if they have read the headlines in the newspaper: Why Are Some People STILL Refusing to Practice Social Distancing? These people have decided to live in their own utopia, ignoring orders while going on vacation, and having friends over for holiday parties. People continue to live in “la la land,” having “six-feet-apart parties.”

I had planned to go on college tours over spring break, and excitedly prepare for prom. Instead, I am isolated and alone inside of my house. I spent countless hours studying for the SAT, anxiously looking forward to putting it behind me. Instead, my test center closed less than 24 hours before the test!. Now, I’m afraid to step foot outside of my front door. However, none of this seems to matter amidst a worldwide pandemic, when there are thousands of people in the hospital desperately fighting for their lives.

Everyday brings more bad news, so I try to appreciate the things that I have. I have created a virtual world to immerse myself in. From virtual cooking classes to Shabbat dinners and Hanukkah parties, I have a newfound appreciation for technology. I now have the opportunity to bond with my family more than I would have during my hectic school week. But most importantly, being isolated from the world has allowed me to reevaluate what is truly important in my life. It’s not that new pair of jeans I have been eyeing at American Eagle for the past two months. It’s not the new car I was hoping to receive on my birthday. It’s knowing that I, as well as the people around me, are happy and healthy.

In order to remain happy and healthy, we need to take the initiative to be leaders in our communities. Instead of feeling frustrated by people’s actions, we can be role models for others by wearing masks, and advocating for others to do the same. Even though we may not be living in a perfect utopia, this doesn’t mean that we should let our values go astray and lose hope. I’m thankful that I have found meaningful activities to not only keep me busy, but to make me truly happy. I encourage each of you to pick up your phone and call an old friend. Pick up a pen and write a letter. Turn on your computer and create a website. Make a personalized mask for a friend. Deliver flowers to someone you love. Be the sunshine in someone else’s day.

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Danielle London is a senior at Eastern Regional High School in Voorhees, NJ. She is the president of her school’s community service club, involved in the theater program, and enjoys playing tennis and taking photographs in her free time. Danielle is passionate about science and english and hopes to have a career combining these fields in the future.
Accompanying photo: “Mask Up NOLA” by Caroline Koppel