WOW. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT 2020 IS ACTUALLY COMING TO AN END? IF YOU’VE HAD A YEAR LIKE MINE, WHICH I’M POSITIVELY SURE YOU HAVE, THEN YOU KNOW HOW 2020 COMING TO AN END FEELS EUPHORIC AND IMPOSSIBLE ALL AT THE SAME TIME. HOW DID 2020 BECOME THE QUICKEST AND THE LONGEST YEAR WE’VE EVER EXPERIENCED? YEAH, I DON’T KNOW EITHER… WITH THAT SAID, LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT 2020 AND GIVE OURSELVES THE OPPORTUNITY TO GET IN TOUCH WITH ALL THE THINGS WE WENT THROUGH AND LEARNED THIS PAST YEAR. SHALL WE?
Let’s start with our hopeful January 2020. I remember watching the clock with all my friends and family (yes, seems like a decade ago) and doing the big countdown. We were all full of hope for the new year, and 2020 seemed to hold all the possibilities. I mean, a new decade, a new you, right? In a way, yes. Nothing could have prepared me for the things that 2020 brought, but regardless of what it would bring, I knew I was going into 2020 with power, awareness, strength, and an open mind.
Then March hit. There was talk of a new virus, people were calling this a pandemic — something I had only read about in history books — and tension started building. What is COVID-19? I understood that the best thing we could do was to follow instructions, inform ourselves, and try to go on as normally as possible. Ah, I was so hopeful.
By the beginning of June I was over it. Can they really just close everything? Is this pandemic ever going to end? The death toll has reached numbers that are incomprehensible to me and I’m sad and scared about it. It has been so long and I haven’t been able to go see anyone, I have acne all over my chin and cheeks from wearing a mask, and I really can’t keep this whole ‘working from home’ thing much longer. The words “I have a meeting on Zoom in 5” becomes something I literally dream about. But I hang in there. I try as hard as I can to cheer myself up and make my home as comfortable and as fun as possible.
Around July it really hit me. Months had passed since I actually went out and did something. It had seemed like I’d become stagnant in almost every aspect of my life — no progress anywhere, no movement, no goals reached… Oh and I lost my dream job of 3 years. Then the worst part arrived: depression hit me like a dump truck. The more I thought about waking up and circling my living room in my PJs one more time, the more I dreaded tomorrow. I felt like I was a failure. Have I really not done anything? Have I really just sat here and wasted 7 months of my precious time? Why have I become like this and why has peanut butter chocolate chip ice cream begun tasting so darn good?
August, September, and October seem like a dream to me. I don’t remember when one month became the next. Depression seeped further and further into me like nothing else had before — and I thought I had been depressed before! There didn’t seem to be anything that was going to help me, and to be frank, I’m not even sure what ended up helping in the end. I just know that those 3 months were a movie montage of me going from couch to bed and bed to couch, slowly looking more like a creature than a human with each round.
Of course, it’s easy to joke about it now because I’ve come to better terms with it, but it was easily one of the lowest points in my life. That said, I want to shed light on something that I’ve realized: I wasn’t the only one going through that. Pandemics are called pandemics because they affect huge amounts of people/places. We were all victims of this virus. We were all cooped up in our houses/apartments (if we were lucky enough), and we were all deprived of normal life, and not just that, but we were all ripped from our plans and our goals and our expectations of ourselves.
One of the things I know made me begin to realize that it was going to be okay eventually was knowing that I wasn’t alone in this. This experience gave me an entirely new perspective on how we are all human, we are all subject to the circumstances on this Earth, and we are all connected somehow. No, this doesn’t help the fact that I’m still crawling out of my depression hole, and I really don’t wish this on anyone; but it does make me realize that I’m not alone, and that a lot of us are actually going through the same thing right now. It’s comforting in a way.
With all this said, what has 2020 taught me, and why does it matter? 2020 was a year full of lessons. I learned to develop my patience. I learned to strengthen my own self-sufficiency (given that I couldn’t rely on anyone else due to lockdown). I learned more about how much I was taking for granted. I learned how lucky I am to have been able to have enough savings prepared when I lost my job. I learned how special the connection between people is, and how much more I wanted to be for the people around me. I realized that most humans are willing to sacrifice much more than we all thought for the sake of others. I opened my eyes to the love we all share.
But why does this matter? Let’s look at it like this: pretend that COVID-19 never happened. I would have continued doing my job and probably wouldn’t have expanded my horizons for the next decade; I would have continued to take so many things for granted that I don’t anymore; I would have never developed new skills (consisting mainly of new pasta recipes, I confess); I would have never opened my eyes to the importance of the personal connections I have made with the people in my life; and I would most definitely never have grown as much as I have in the las 9 months.
While it’s so easy to focus on the negative things that have happened in this incredibly unforeseen and crazy year, I think it’s important to look at our personal progress too. Why put ourselves down for things we had no control over? Why look at ourselves at the end of this year and think we’ve let ourselves down? Why overlook all the amazing accomplishments we’ve made? I think not! Let’s take this moment to reflect on how far we’ve come, and how much we’ve been able to overcome both personally and collectively, and let’s take all these amazing thins into the new year with us.
Let’s make 2021 a year of fulfillment. Let’s make 2021 a year without any self-judgement or feelings of disappointment. Let’s look at all our incredible achievements and advancements, and let’s not take a single one of our victories for granted. Let’s make 2021 the year of self.