Karen Chau: You Only Live Once

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One lesson from the pandemic learned by teenagers like Karen Chau is to never let an opportunity from the mundane to the exceptional slip away.

The term YOLO means “you only live once.” I have heard this term thrown around so many times but I’ve never really taken the phrase to heart. As a teen, I thought there was still so much time. I was scared to have fun but ever since corona hit, I wish I could go back in time when everything was carefree and exciting.

Sitting in my dark familiar room, I was looking at the photos hanging on my wall from all my fun memories and wondered when can all this happen again?

In middle school, during summer breaks my family would always go on trips to new places, but as I got older we went on less trips because school got harder and more time consuming. After six hours of school, I had volunteering, clubs and other commitments to focus on. I never seem to have time for fun anymore. I’m either swamped with school or working for experience. It seems like my teen years are slipping away.

2020 was the year that I wanted to allow myself to experience new things. But then COVID ruined my plans. It closed everything down and I haven’t even been able to see my friends. With all of my junior year being online, I hope I could have the true senior experience.

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I regret not going out more. I don’t want to grow up so fast.

I want to have fun while I can. I want to travel every continent in the world, go cliff jumping, go scuba diving and wake up really early to watch the sunrise. I know that all this is possible, but I’ve been too consumed with work to step out of my comfort zone.

This pandemic has taught me to value every moment with my friends. If there’s an opportunity to do something new, do it. You only live once, so why live with regrets.

With a Perspective, I’m Karen Chau.

Karen Chau is in the 11th grade at Washington High School in San Francisco. Her Perspective was produced as part of KQED’s Youth Takeover week.