Dear Future Self, Please Do Not Forget

Bronx Science students remind their future selves to live with gratitude as they reflect on the lessons that they learned during this past year during the Coronavirus pandemic.

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Elma Kabir

Elma Kabir ’23 tours a popular New York City attraction, The Vessel, at night, in December 2020.

“When this is all over” has been ingrained in our vocabularies since the first day of lockdown in New York City on March 15th, 2020. Over a year later, the “end” is still an abstract concept. Without a defined endpoint or finish line, it is difficult to cope while keeping the same optimism that we once started with.

Perhaps this will all “be over” when we are able to remove our masks without risking the health of our loved ones or our own. Or when we can visit friends and family the way we used to — with little to no anxiety. Fortunately, as the rollout progresses for COVID-19 vaccines, we slowly inch towards a time filled with safe human contact once again. We may not be able to jump straight to this highly anticipated endpoint, but we can certainly write about it in the meantime.

Many of the students in the Class of 2024 — our current ninth-graders — have yet to set foot inside the Bronx Science building. They have shown resilience when faced with this year’s challenges, making the most of their virtual first year. In the future, many Bronx Science students want to be more intentional about feeling gratitude for friends, family, and loved ones. 

People, Places, and Simple Pleasures: Clio Huber ’24 

“I try to be grateful for the time I have now where I am home all the time and am able to see my family. I know when this ends, I will be out a lot more, have a lot more work, and be off to college before I know it. When things go back to normal, I cannot wait to meet new people and once again have the kinds of social interactions that we took for granted. I am looking forward to any trips that I can take and any places I can go without worrying about putting myself or my loved ones in danger.”

Chanel Champagnie ’24 writes a physical letter addressed to her future self. (Chanel Champagnie)

The time that many members of the Class of 2023 spent within Bronx Science was abruptly cut short. Aware that staying at home does not dictate an increase in productivity, many have used this time to learn something new about themselves. Whether they develop their old passions or foster new ones, they have made use of their time simply by enjoying it.  

Mellow Meditation and Theme Park Thrills: Susan Ye ’23

“This past year, I began working out and meditating. I never thought I would live a lifestyle like this, but it makes me feel refreshed every morning. I have lost some motivation in keeping up with this routine, but at least I know I am in control of my time. Also, when I was younger, I was horrified that people were willingly letting themselves suffer by riding big roller coasters. However, in quarantine, I understood the thrill — the sensation of being shot up into the sky or being flipped upside down is exciting. Post-COVID, I would like to go to an amusement park with friends, taking on my fears and living with excitement.”

Elma Kabir ’23 captures the sunset at an abandoned port in Whitestone.

A Taste of Tiktok: Elma Kabir ’23

“I have seen sides of family members I have never seen before. My older family members are staying at home more often. Their lifestyles are not the cleanest, and since I am an organized person, that really bugged me. However, I have learned to take the good with the bad. I have started up so many hobbies and activities that do not involve my phone. I have done some arts and crafts and attempted to make different food trends that I saw online, including dalgona coffee. Quarantine has made me discover things about myself and others that I did not know about.”

Many members of the Class of 2022 have spent a pivotal year in their high school career learning remotely. Receiving letters of recommendation from teachers who they have never seen in real life has proven to be a challenge. Many studied for their SAT exams completely virtually. Nevertheless, they look forward to a time when they are no longer dealing with the background anxiety that the COVID-19 pandemic fuels. 

Seaside-Sickness (Homesick for the Sea): Manha Bulbul ’22

“Once everything reopens, I will stop by the beach! I am not a particularly big fan of the beach, but not being able to go has made it seem a lot more exciting — the water, sand, and people all seem to make it worthwhile. I know that some beaches are open at the moment, but I cannot go with everyone I would like to go with. I am also a little afraid because I sometimes feel that social distancing may not be enough to combat the virus.” 

Mother-Daughter Bond: Jiayi Pang ’22

“I would remind my future self to be grateful for my mom, especially at times when we disagree and argue (which happens quite a bit). I should remember that it is very difficult for her given that she is a single parent in a foreign country. I think my entire life changed because of her decision to bring me to America, and I am very grateful to be exposed to the people and opportunities offered here.”

Jiayi Pang ’22 and her mother prepare food for a Lunar New Year celebration. (Jiayi Pang)

As the Class of 2021 decides which college will be lucky enough to have them attend for the next four years, our Bronx Science seniors have spent time reflecting on the past year. This was certainly not the senior year they had hoped for and dreamed of, but many have learned to find happiness in the little things. They look forward to holding onto these simple pleasures in the years ahead. 

Ferries and Furniture: Chritina Gao ’21

“The first place I would tell my future self to go to is Ikea. I really like Ikea. I would take the ferry, walk around Ikea, and get food from the food court. I love looking at the long names of furniture. That being said, I would remind my future self to be grateful for my bed! I have spent a lot of time on my bed since the pandemic started. I am going to college quite far away from home, and I do not know how comfortable dorm beds are, but my bed at home is pretty darn comfortable.” 

What Friends Are For: Yasin Karim ’21

“This past year, many of us have unfortunately realized that our time together with friends and family is not guaranteed. I would tell my future self to get together with a group of friends, including Abir Hossain ’21, who is like a brother to me. Even if things are getting rough, he is there to remind me that I have friends supporting me through every step of the way. From randomly texting me during the day to showing up to my neighborhood to hang out (socially distanced and responsibly, outside while masked), he has really made the effort to be there for me and to make sure that everything is fine.” 

From experiencing loss to experiencing pandemic fatigue, COVID-19 has left its mark on everyone around the world. By now we have been hit with the harsh reality that we will not go back to “normal” right away. Instead of idealizing the past, however, we can take the lessons that we have learned and look forward towards a brighter future.

“When things go back to normal, I cannot wait to meet new people and once again have the kinds of social interactions that we took for granted,” said Clio Huber ’24.

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