The Diaries of Privilege

by Rachel Lee, age 16
The Diaries of Privilege Rachel Lee is a senior with a music concentration in piano. She is a very diverse musician who finds joy in learning new instruments. She has continued to pursue piano for 13 years, the violin for 7 years, and has also picked up the alto saxophone, oboe, and flute throughout her childhood. Rachel is a very bright and optimistic person who only wants to see the best in people and our world. She fights for injustice and perseveres during the world's darkest times, keeping her chin up and making the best out of any situation.

“I’ve got to switch out my pillows soon though; they’re giving me neck pain. I wonder how the homeless are doing.”

March 10, 2020: Bergen County Technical Schools closed – possibly the best news of my junior year experience.

I was scheduled to have my tonsils removed March 12. Missing the last two weeks of the marking period due to recovery would not have done any good for my critical junior year GPA. From my point of view, this Coronavirus saved me.

March 11, 2020: Bergen County Technical Schools were still behind on building an online curriculum. 2 days off for students.

I felt that God was answering my prayers: putting an end to a hellish junior year, allowing me to go into surgery stress free. The universe was finally on my side. I went out for burgers with my mom and boyfriend to celebrate our break from school. How inappropriate this celebration was, we had yet to realize.

March 12, 2020: Tonsil removal surgery date. Also the second day of plummeting stocks and President Trump’s European travel ban.

What an easy day it was going to be. Fall asleep with tonsils, wake up with them gone. With no piled-up work to complete after surgery, I knew I was going to be treated like an absolute princess. I was in my maximum state of emotional comfort, with nothing to worry about. I think something was happening with the market or whatever that day too. I saw it on the TV in the waiting room, but I don’t know. My operation, of course, was my priority.

March 17, 2020: Most painful day of the tonsillectomy recovery process. Millions under lockdown in Europe. Thirty seven U.S. states close their public schools. 

I swear I felt like the universe had turned its back on me again. I was in more pain than I could have imagined. I could barely swallow my own saliva, and the pressure in my throat made my ears throb as if I was sitting at the bottom of the ocean. I wish my parents would stop watching the news and pay attention to my pain. I get it, Coronavirus is getting serious, but I’m in pain too.

March 26, 2020: Fully recovered from the tonsillectomy. 3.3 million jobless claims. One-third of the world is living under coronavirus restrictions. New York City is now the epicenter for U.S. coronavirus cases. 

With the pain drawing to an end, I was finally able to enjoy my “Corona-cation.” My introverted self frankly enjoyed the restricted movement. It was so nice to see my parents able to have more quality time together, as well as with the whole family. My friends kept complaining on social media about how staying with their families stressed them out. I wished they would stop taking things for granted.

I loved the company of my bed most. I’d forgotten how nice it was to have a solid eight hours of sleep. I’ve got to switch out my pillows soon though; they’re giving me neck pain. I wonder how the homeless are doing.

I ate all three meals at home now, of course. Was my mom’s cooking always this good? I wonder if those jobless people are finding enough to eat. 

I was living my best life. How could I possibly ask for more? I hoped nothing would change. Is that too ignorant of me to ask for?

April 1, 2020: Neighboring schools start cancelling school events. The U.S. has more confirmed cases than any other country. 100,000 to 240,000 Americans could die in the next few weeks.

Junior proms were the main talk of my social media. My friends from neighboring towns were both sad and angry about having wasted money on dresses.

I envisioned the cancellation of my prom in the near future. At least I hadn’t ordered my dress yet. I was so thankful I had nothing to worry about, but I also hoped all those sick people on the news were okay. This Coronavirus thing is starting to be a little scary. Junior prom potentially being cancelled still sucks though. 

April 6, 2020: 1.27 million infected and 69,000 killed worldwide from COVID-19. The U.S. surgeon general said this week would be “the hardest and saddest,” and a “9/11” moment.

I was growing sick of this quarantine lifestyle. Without anywhere to go, anyone to see, anything to do, life was becoming a bland cycle. With all this extra time, I started to complain. All anyone had to talk about was COVID-19 and I was bored of hearing about the same thing. Coronavirus is spreading. Stay at home. Healthcare workers are running out of masks. Hospitals are short on ventilators. The number of unemployed has reached a historic peak. Those vulnerable to domestic abuse have no escape. People are dying. But I’m bored and I have every right to complain.

The sad reality is that it took a global pandemic and the changed lives of millions for me to fully love the many things I take for granted. My ignorant self sought joy through satisfying my greed and selfish desires. I initially chose to overlook the millions of people around the globe who are suffering from COVID-19, whether directly or indirectly. Instead, I chose to reflect on myself, and all the things that I didn’t have. I chose to complain about all that was wrong with my warm home, full refrigerator, comforting bed, internet access, access to education, and my employed and forgiving parents.

Yet still, even during this global pandemic are those who remain discontented, complaining about the things they don’t have. Despite the daily reminder of those who are losing everything to the rapid spread of COVID-19, we choose to seclude ourselves from the tragedies of the real world and look for reasons to justify our discomfort in the midst of all our blessings. We choose to take, we choose to only satisfy ourselves, and we choose to keep the world revolving around us, when really our world is suffering because we choose to spoil ourselves with ignorance.

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