At Home Creativity: Lily, Age 20

 In Voices of Young People

In response to the newfound realities of social distancing, including remote learning for students and working from home for many young professionals, Springtide™ Research Institute launched the At Home Creativity Campaign. This Spring 2020 campaign invited young people ages 13⁠ to 25 in the United States to submit creative works responding to the prompt, “How are you finding connection and meaning in these days of physical distancing?” The variety of submissions included creative writing, poetry, essays, visual art, films, original music, and photography. The top five pieces were selected by a panel of judges at Springtide and are featured in the At Home Creativity series within our Voices of Young People blog.

Here is a personal reflection from Lily, age 20, in New York:

“7 p.m.”

Every night at 7 p.m., this now quiet city fills with the sound of people clapping, shouting, and banging on pots and pans to show our gratitude to health workers and food workers and other essential workers who are keeping our city alive right now.

My mom, who’s usually a tough-as-nails professor, is crying in her bed as she answers emails from all her undergrads who can’t take their exams or write their papers right now because their house just got flooded in the midst of this pandemic or their family member died or they don’t have Wi-Fi, and she’s trying to figure out how to teach her students and make sure they have any time they need. She said she’s getting emails like that every 30 minutes.

Tonight, at 7 p.m., I shouted out my window, “I love you, New York!” I love my city. I love the people in the tall apartment building across the street, the people walking their dogs, my neighbors who I haven’t seen in weeks, my friends who are stuck inside their bedrooms right now. I love my stressed-out mom, my aunt who’s living with us right now and tries so hard to be easygoing. I love my dad, who is living on his own right now who I’m not sure when I’ll be able to see in person again. I love and appreciate the family and friends who call us to make sure we’re doing okay.

I have so much gratitude for everyone and so much appreciation for how so many people are doing their part to help New York City or wherever it is they live. I know it’s not just on us. We deserve a government that uses its powers to secure as much safety for all (including incarcerated people, unhoused people, undocumented people). But while it’s not just on us, this is just to say that I felt that it wasn’t enough to shout for a minute at 7 p.m. how grateful I am right now for us and what we’re doing for each other.

Our Q&A with Lily:

What inspired you to create this piece?

I had come back home to New York City from college to live with my mom and aunt. New Yorkers had recently started a nightly tradition called “Clap Because We Care,” where each night we bang on pots and pans, clap and shout, and show our gratitude to essential workers. I wanted to write a piece of gratitude for these workers and to process my feelings. I wanted to write about my gratitude for and sadness about people who were keeping the city alive during the pandemic. I wanted to write about missing family and friends. I wanted to write about seeing my family cope with the stress of the pandemic.

What was your creative process for writing this?

I originally wrote this piece as a Facebook post and edited it a bit to be an essay for this At Home Creativity project from Springtide.

Who are the people you’re safely connecting with during this time of social distancing?

I’m living with my aunt and mom. At first, I’d meet up with my dad sometimes to go for a bike ride, but we stopped meeting because my family felt unsure how safe it was to go outside. We haven’t left the house much because my mom can work from home, and we’ve been trying to be as safe as possible. I FaceTime with my friends a lot and call my relatives.

Are trusted adults checking in with you (inside or outside your home) during this time? What does that connection mean to you?

My mom checks in on me sometimes. My dad and I talk every day on the phone. I sometimes talk on the phone with my other aunt, my mom’s college friend, godmother, grandmother, and the woman who used to be my babysitter when I was a kid. The connection means a lot. I really value being able to talk with these adults. I feel worried about their health sometimes, but I also feel supported by them. They make me feel loved, and it feels good that they want to check up on me and that they remember me.

Springtide’s recent Social Distance Study found that for many young people, sheltering in place and social distancing provoke fear and uncertainty, leading to increased levels of isolation, loneliness, and anxiety. This survey also found that the single most important way to mitigate loneliness is for trusted adults to reach out and connect with young people.

Although young people continue to find creative outlets even through the challenges of COVID-19, remember that our research confirms they still need trusted adults to reach out to them. Consider how you might connect to the young people in your circle of care by engaging their interests or encouraging their creative pursuits.

Blog post photo credit: Wes Hicks

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