Gabriela Enamorado/Staff Writer
Each generation has its defining moments. Baby Boomers have the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War. Generation X had MTV and the Reagan era. Millennials witnessed 9/11 and the 2008 recession. For Generation Z, the global pandemic is our defining moment.
Before the pandemic, I viewed the future for Generation Z as something positive. We were unsure of how our generation would fit into history. We were changing the world despite how young we were. Our futures were looking bright. It was exciting to anticipate how things would unfold. But that all changed in a matter of weeks. Coming of age during a pandemic is going to have drastic effects on our futures.
Generation Z ranges from 8 to 23-year-olds. That means we’re all experiencing this pandemic differently. Most of the college-aged Gen Z’s are concerned about the job market. High school-aged Gen Z’s are concerned about post-graduation plans. The much younger ones are going to have to adjust to online schooling and how that will affect their social development.
One of the most worrying effects is the financial hardship that we are going to face. This pandemic is going to lead us into one of the worst recessions that we have seen. This economic hardship is going to set the path for the next few years for Gen Z. As the oldest of us are just getting into the workforce, we’re unsure if we are going to be able to find jobs after graduation.
Thinking about my own future, I’m most concerned about what jobs are going to look like after this. The work field has been disrupted. The unemployment rate was just 3.5% back in February. Now, it’s shot up to 13%. The unemployment age gap is high and mostly affects young adults. Many of us work in industries that are being affected the most by the pandemic like restaurants, retail and hospitality.
Most work is remote now. Internships have been canceled left and right due to the pandemic. I personally worry if I will even be able to get a solid internship in my field. If I do get one, it’ll be much less hands-on. I worry that remote internships won’t properly expose me to the experience that I need post-graduation.
I also can’t help but wonder about the long-term effects on mental health this will have on many of us. Many people have lost loved ones during the pandemic or have even gotten sick themselves. Even if we didn’t come directly in contact with the virus, everyone across the globe has been touched by the stress and anxiety the pandemic brought with it.
Generation Z already has a high rate of mental health problems. 58% of Gen Z adults have experienced symptoms of depression before. Now, 62% of Gen Z’s say that isolating during the pandemic has worsened their mental health. I don’t see this problem going away as soon as things are “back to normal.” People may suffer PTSD after this, as well as any other long-term mental health problems. On top of that, Generation Z has also had to deal with other issues such as school shootings and the rising concerns of climate change. Adding a pandemic to this list will certainly make our stress worse.
Some of my friends have expressed their feelings of isolation and anxiety during these times. Financial hardships, lack of job opportunities, getting laid off, being isolated and feeling frustrated are all things we’re dealing with simultaneously. I haven’t properly hung out with anyone in months. I struggle with an anxiety disorder and depression. This pandemic hasn’t been easy on me or on others with similar problems.
We’re strong and we’ll move forward but there’s no denying that our plans have been put on hold. A lot of us are feeling shaky and uncertain. However, our generation is still young and we have time to bounce back. Despite everything, I’m still optimistic and I know others are too. We don’t know what’s to come but the best we can do is wait it out and hope we can rebuild a better tomorrow.
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