Sad Endings, New Beginnings

The pandemic has caused strain on many friendships, but there can be a positive outlook.

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photo by Lucie Flagg

Jealousy of friendships plays a huge role in the loneliness within cohorts.

Lucie Flagg, Co-Editor-in-Chief

My generation has always thrived on self-deprecating humor. Even though we know that so much of what we say isn’t true, it’s still something that many of us love and, truthfully, it keeps me in touch with my generation.

I can’t even count how many times I or someone I know has said, “I don’t have any friends.” The joke is usually funny because nine times out of ten, the person saying it has plenty. But for the first time in my entire life, that statement is actually beginning to come true. 

I’ll preface this by saying that I do have people in my life that I would consider friends. Whether they’re new or people that have been with me forever, I genuinely enjoy my time with them. But I also feel the need to emphasize that the pandemic has changed relationships with others in ways that I never thought were possible.

When we were first introduced to the hybrid model of instruction, I struggled because all of my friends were either in the other cohort or chose to do NACA. If there’s one word I can use to describe my senior year, it’s “lonely.” Because the worst part about my situation is that I’ve gotten used to it and now, I actually prefer being alone. 

I adjusted to the hybrid model, which I suppose was great for the situation, but now that we’re slowly getting back to normal, I feel like I’m a huge step behind. I see people my age posting pictures from Friday night parties and gatherings, while I’m sitting at home alone watching TV with my dog. 

The problem is not that I don’t enjoy watching TV with my dog—it’s that I love it too much. No part of me feels the need to socialize any longer. And in the unlikely chance that I do feel inclined to be social, I never know who to call. 

It’s just hard to watch their friendships strengthen without me…”

Going hybrid forced my friends in the other cohort to push me out. I don’t blame them—it was natural given the circumstances. It’s just hard to watch their friendships strengthen without me, as I used to see myself as a necessary part of the group. 

I’ve met new people in my cohort, sure, but I have yet to find someone that I feel comfortable doing “friend” things with—hanging out at each other’s homes or going shopping. And now that I’m just a few weeks away from graduating, it seems almost unnecessary. 

Even Prom—something that so many high schoolers look forward to—seems so futile. There are many reasons why I’m not going—price and overall experience being two major ones. But if I’m telling myself the truth, the number one reason why I’m not going to Prom is that I’m self-conscious.

I received one group invitation after I begged someone for it, but I realized the night wouldn’t be fun in that case. I’d be pretending to be my former self to keep up with friends that I don’t even know anymore. They didn’t want me just as much as I didn’t want them.

Although my senior year as an outcast has been less than ideal, I have to acknowledge the positives to the loneliness. Our lives are just a collection of phases. Some, like my senior year, can be pretty bad. The best part about being lonely, though, is looking forward to new, even healthier friendships.

To be blunt—I am so unbelievably excited to graduate and move away for college. Mine may be a cynical outlook on high school, but it’s a healthy one nonetheless. So many people struggle to move on because of what they’re leaving behind. But I have very few emotional connections to anything here at North Allegheny and will happily graduate at peace with my accomplishments.