At times, the feeling of being overwhelmed is comparable to the crest of a powerful wave washing over you, soaking your body and clothes to the bone. It’s the inability to catch your breath after what seems like a lifetime of running, the constant huffing and puffing going in and out, in and out. It’s standing at the top of the highest building and peering over the edge not knowing exactly what’s at the bottom. It’s being in the middle of a global pandemic with no sense of what’s to come or how to cope. 

COVID-19 has confounded us all as well as thrusted us into an online world seemingly overnight. The world as we know it is being transformed to accommodate the regulations of social distancing and it seems as if we’ve  all been catapulted into a dystopian novel but if this crisis has taught me anything it’s the necessity of self-awareness at a time when our individual actions contribute to the larger symbiosis of human interaction. To be self-aware means to be conscious of one's own character, feelings, motives, and desires. It’s one of the components of the leadership development model AIESEC educates its members on and it makes up the foundation of what it means to be a leader.

Self-awareness leads to being able to access other parts of yourself and truly unlock your full potential. 

With the passing of Memorial Day Weekend, and the endless footage of droves of people across the country ignoring vital stay-at-home orders, it calls into question the ability of people to not only heed to important warnings but also to take accountability for themselves and the lives of others. It can be frustrating to see these instances and also terrifying since it only leads to more questions, most concerning when exactly the country will fully re-open.

These are dangerous times and it’s in our best interests to take charge and fall in line to aid in whatever means necessary. One of the many things AIESEC has taught me is what exactly  it means to be a world citizen. If there was ever a time that taught us the   importance of cross-cultural exchange it is the here and now. Looking  to countries such as South Korea, New Zealand and Germany who have  handled this pandemic brilliantly is a way to educate ourselves and  speaks to the power of global connections.

If there was ever a time to place your mental health as a priority, it’s now. With items like our phones and laptops constantly at hand with a wealth of information and statistics it’s easy to get overwhelmed and downtrodden. Be mindful of how you’re faring and take stock at different times of the day to make sure you’re cognizant of yourself and others. Take a break from social media if necessary, or take some time where you don’t look at your screen. This is especially important considering this new virtual world has led us all to having increased time in front of a screen and can lead to headaches and dry eyes.

In a world that is currently focused on your physical well-being, don’t neglect the mental as well because it’s just as important. 

In the midst of such darkness, it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But if that’s the case, light your own candle, start your own fire, or use the flashlight on your phone! One of the most enduring traits of humanity is our ability to not only overcome, but thrive. Already, we’ve seen instances of spectacular moments of generosity and kindness. In the Oakland Unified School District in Oakland, CA free meals have been distributed to students during school closures seeing as food insecurity is a common problem in younger, school-aged children. There are cases all over the country of neighbors carrying out grocery shopping trips for their elderly and vulnerable counterparts. And in a wonderfully innovative turn of events, many schools have devised creative ways of hosting graduation events for the Class of 2020 who have been so directly impacted by this pandemic. It would not be complete to not mention the endless hard work and sacrifice our essential workers have put in place. Whether it’s our medical workers (doctors and nurses), janitors, delivery service workers, transportation services, and so many more. And while they deserve every set of applause, every building lit up in their honor, and every honorary commemoration it’s important to take a look at the infrastructure in place that allowed for their lives to be put on the line every single day.

It’s not enough to say thank you and move on, but also to evaluate what changes can be made. 

That all too familiar feeling of being overwhelmed, while it’s all-encompassing it also doesn’t last forever. There will be an end to this pandemic, and while we will revert to a new type of normal it doesn’t make it any less worthwhile. It is paramount to remember those we’ve lost to this virus and those who are still struggling and be thankful for what we have. AIESEC’s vision, peace and the fulfillment of humankind’s potential is a motto to take to heart. As the youth, we hold the future in our hands. Even though we’ve encountered a roadblock this doesn’t inhibit the power we have and our ability to change the world. Take hold of every moment, keep in contact with your loved ones, and always remember the light you hold within to warm you in the darkest of times.

This is only a chapter in the long novel that will eventually make up our lives so take ownership and write your own pages.

Please, use the Youth Speak Survey as an outlet and a forum for you to let your voice be heard, share your perspective and issues that matter to you most. At a time like this, not only is it valuable but incredibly needed. Find it at!