When I first learned of Anne Frank’s story, I could barely imagine the fear, the loneliness, and the isolation. During these last few weeks, I realized there is so much young people can learn from her.
âSeries Editor, H. Steven Moffic, MD
“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.” âAnne Frank
It is the weekend and usually I am hanging out with my friends. Sometimes we go to the park. Other times we go to the mall. We often hang out at each other’s homes; snacking; playing with make-up; and talking about school, boys, or anything else on our minds. But today, like yesterday and the day before and the day before that, I am sitting at home.
Why? COVID-19. The biggest pandemic the world has seen. For the last few weeks, we have been quarantined, mostly stuck inside our homes. It has made me stressed and anxious. I am nervous about the disease-for myself, my grandparents, and others. Thousands of people are dying every day. I am nervous about what this is doing to the world. Everything has changed. We can’t do the things we used to do.
I can’t believe I am saying this, but I even miss school and my teachers. And we have no idea when any of this will end. The uncertainty also is scary. My parents listen to the news, and I just want to shut it all out, wishing we could go back to the way things were.
All of this reminds me of another dark time in history-the Holocaust-and another 16-year-old girl, Anne Frank. Of course, I have so much more freedom than Anne did while she was in hiding. She had to be quiet during the day. And while I share my space with my family, she shared her little home behind the bookshelf with other people. She didn’t have her own room or space to escape, all to protect her life and the lives of those around her. She had the radio to listen to-only sometimes-and a small window to peer out into the world. But she was mostly cut off from the rest of the world.
I am fortunate. When my younger brother gets on my nerves, I can escape to my room. When I am bored or nervous, I can FaceTime with one of my friends. There’s TV and movies and the internet to amuse me all hours of the day and night. We have lots of food, and we have feasted on homemade pizza and chocolate and ramen. My family and I even go on walks in the evening through the trails in my community.
When I first learned of Anne Frank’s story and so many others like hers, I could barely imagine the fear, the loneliness, and the isolation. During these last few weeks, I realized there is so much I can learn from her. She was patient. Well, not always. I mean, she was a teen girl, after all! But she learned, for the most part, to cope with her extraordinary circumstances. She believed in the good in people, and she tried to focus on the positive possibilities.
“In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death,” she wrote. “I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.
We live in such uncertain times right now. Yet, we have so much more control over our fates than Anne did. We can stay home. Wash our hands. Cover our mouths and noses. These are little things, especially compared with what Anne and so many others like her lived through. I can’t understand those who defy common sense and go hang out and who put others in danger for selfish quick joys.
So, I will stay home and do those little things. And I will try to find the little positives every day, like spending more time with my family, staying up late, and sleeping in every day. Hopefully, this will be over soon.
Ms Duerris a student at Tesoro High School inRancho Santa Margarita, CA. She is 16 years old. For her Girl Scout Gold Award Project, she has been sharing stories about the Holocaust, highlighting victims, survivors, and the Righteous Gentiles through Never Again Stories on Instagram: @neveragainstories.