Teens on Coping With a Challenging Year

Teens on Coping With a Challenging Year

The New York Times, through its Learning Network, asked the question, and more than 5,500 responses poured in.

In words and images, audio and video, they reported that it was, in many ways, a generation-defining disaster. Being trapped inside — and missing the milestones that ordinarily mark coming of age in America — was lonely, disorienting, depressing and even suffocating.

But many also surprised themselves. They bonded with siblings, discovered nature, found small comforts in Zoom-school, played games, worked out, cooked, wrote, sang, danced, painted and made videos. And, perhaps most important at a time of life focused on figuring out who you are, they reinvented themselves.

But although so many coped admirably, this generation will be forever changed. As one 16-year-old put it, “Making history is way overrated.”

This week, a year after the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic, we share their stories. In this special project, we chose a handful of entries to show what teenagers have lost — and what they have found. Below each image, you can find edited and condensed excerpts from their artists’ statements that can tell you more about the work.

No matter how old you are, as you read you might ask yourself a question, too: How has this year challenged and changed your generation?

— Katherine Schulten, editor, The Learning Network

“For some, it was a time of reflection. For many, it was a dark period of isolation. For a generation, it was a defining collective experience.” — Parrish André, 18

Whippany, N.J.