The Upsides of Downtime

Words of Wisdom from 9th grader, Elizabeth Foreman
(Reprinted from an English Weekly Writing assignment with her permission.)

Spending weeks at home seems idyllic to any young person. Kindergarteners to highschoolers pray for days spent away from the constant stress and anxiety known as school. They think that life would be perfect if they could stay at their house all day. Some would do this to improve at something they are passionate about, like a musical instrument or writing; others just want the joy that comes with guilt-free relaxation. However, in March 2020, young people across America came to realize that reality is not so ideal.

Being forced to remain at home, they soon discovered, is very different from being allowed to stay home. When they are allowed to stay home, they can visit their friends, go to the pool, or watch an abundance of television; the possibilities seem endless. When young people are forced to stay home, they cannot visit friends or even go out to dinner because they cannot leave the house. Sadly, this sudden disillusionment to the utopia of staying home has fostered a lack of self-motivation. Now that they cannot leave the house, it feels more like a familiar prison than a picturesque sanctuary. The continuing of school, albeit online, and the cancelling of sports worsen this sense of entrapment and sadness. All of these things can make people feel isolated and sluggish, but they do not have to.

Although young people might see their new lives as monotonous, they easily have the power to change that feeling of boredom.”

Although young people might see their new lives as monotonous, they easily have the power to change that feeling of boredom. Those who begged for all this free time are suddenly angry at the appearance of it, yet they can now do all those things they dreamed about doing. Young people have been given the gift of having the opportunity to improve themselves and their happiness. They can practice their art, learn a new language, or just reconnect with their family. They can watch movies and television shows like they are going to be tested on them. They can learn to cook or bake or improve upon those skills. Finally, they can simply enjoy the quiet of eating lunch in their own homes and the peacefulness of their families surrounding them.


This new quiet may be appalling to some, at least at first, but sometimes it takes true quiet for young people to finally hear what is going on around them. With the slowing of their lives to a calm and leisurely place, young people can wake up, hear the birds chirping, and actually enjoy their company, instead of hurrying to get to school or finish that final piece of homework. They can spend time talking with their family and learning all that have missed while they were worrying about their own hectic schedules. Their new reality might not be as idyllic as they hoped it would be, but it still allows for many of the activities they had once dreamed about. They should use this gift they have been given, make the most of their free time, and accomplish everything they did in their daydreams.

Elizabeth at home in her makeshift classroom, the family dining room.

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The Network is the student newspaper of Marian High School, Nebraska's only Class A College-Preparatory School for young women.

2 thoughts on “The Upsides of Downtime

  1. What a beautiful reflection, Elizabeth! Thank you for sharing this with us. Your positive attitude is an inspiration!


  2. This was such a refreshing reflection! I love your quote, “sometimes it takes true quiet for young people to finally hear what is going on around them.” There is definitely enough quiet to go around and it’s time to embrace it!


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