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2020: A Time to Reflect, Then Move Forward

We did it. A year that Time Magazine dubbed as “The Worst Year Ever” is finally ending [1]. 2020 pushed us to the brink emotionally, physically, and mentally. A global pandemic, nationwide protests over racial injustice and a contentious presidential election have dominated the news this year. Surely these events have affected us all on some level.  Amongst these major issues are many minor battles that each of us have had to face... But we have prevailed. We have made it to the end of 2020, and this is not something to be overlooked.

Back in January of this year, no one would have been able to tell us that life as we knew it would drastically change. If someone had told us that we’d be packing our bags mid-semester or isolating ourselves from our peers and loved ones, we wouldn’t have believed it. Yet before we could blink, a pandemic was among us and we found ourselves having to adjust to a new way of life. To say that this experience has been difficult would be an understatement. Jobs have been lost, hearts have been broken, alienation and anxiety have been at an all-time high, and many of us have been afraid-- afraid not only for our own health, but also the health of those we love. Summer wasn’t the same, neither was Christmas and I’m sure the new year will look quite different, too. But, with all that came with 2020, there were moments that were immensely illuminating.

There was a time where I used to dread my long walk to the subway. I would complain about having to commute to work or school. I found it frustrating having to navigate a sea of people simply to buy a toothbrush at Walmart. I would count the million things I would rather be doing than waiting in line at my favourite restaurant. I now realize these were moments that I took for granted—the opportunity to leave my house without fear of putting my health or the health of others at risk; the ability to wander in a public space without any restraints; the freedom to see my family and friends whenever and wherever we pleased. COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of acknowledging the mundane aspects of life that we as a society have a tendency to look over. During a time of stress and ambiguity, COVID-19 has provided us with a precious opportunity to take a step back and reflect on the people, places and things that provide us with the impetus to achieve our goals, however vast or minute they may be.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it has taught us that there is no flawless plan; everything that we know and have become accustomed to could flip at any moment. This is why it is particularly important to take care of yourself and your mental health during these times of uncertainty, fear and distress. Whether this entails re-watching your favourite TV series, finally attempting that lasagna recipe or simply having a bath, you should indulge in what makes you happy and be unapologetic about it. While you may not be able to see your loved ones in a physical capacity, one thing this pandemic has provided us with is the chance to be inventive with our resources. You could try having a virtual happy hour or a games night with your family and friends! With everything that has been thrown at us over the past year, now is the perfect time to reframe these obstacles and turn them into opportunities.

Always remember this—resilience. 2020 was a tough year—for all of us. Although the issues we face individually and as a society are not simply going to go away as the calendar changes, we should acknowledge the growth and strength that came out of 2020. You are resilient and you made it.

[1] Stephanie Zacharek, “The Worst Year Ever” (Dec 14, 2020), online: Time Magazine.

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