I won’t comment too severely on the freak show of a year we all just went through, but I would like to acknowledge and appreciate the local, national, and international communities for persevering and picking ourselves up when in need.
Some communities were devastated due to the COVID-19 disease, and for that, I offer my deepest condolences to every family who has had dealt with such a tragedy. You are not forgotten and will forever have the world’s support.
There is no individual in the United States that can say they were not somewhat affected by what this year had in store whether that was the pandemic, social justice resurgences, recognition of police brutality, or the plethora of political crises. There is also no individual that can say that they didn’t experience a duality in the effects of 2020. In other words, yes, there was, indeed, an agonizing strain of sorrow and struggle, but there was also a healthier understanding of ourselves and each other.
From my personal viewpoint, I can tell you that a year ago today, I wouldn’t have the first idea about pivoting the entirety of my routines, work, and emotional life. If for some reason, I suddenly had to switch gears academically or physically, I wouldn’t know the first place to start. However, because of the majority of my time spent re-working annual events, work, and volunteer services, I’ve gained a much newer, much needed perspective to succeed throughout the many more mistakes and experiences I’ll make. Completing school, work, and volunteer tasks from a laptop in my crash-course merchandised pajamas was only the beginning. Compromising and collaborative skills were quite rare, but exceedingly necessary as I, my friends, and my coworkers meticulously pieced these together as we went. Eventually, I was creating films and book clubs through a digital medium by the summer, connecting my friends and I through literature and learning. Unexpected, but as it turns out, quite an eye-opening and unforgettable experience.
Next to the global pandemic, there were also racial tensions and the widespread recognition of police brutality following the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. Throughout this year, I’ve tried to gain a more thorough and complete view of the horrors of racism not just in our police forces, but societal communities as well: our schools, places of work, hospitals, airports, restaurants, etc. Because I am far from comprehensively understanding the specificities, I currently try to make time to educate myself about respecting BIPOC communities and engaging myself in taking action: signing petitions, reading articles, following the news, etc. My mistake was not acting on this problem sooner, and for that, I am ashamed. I am ashamed that it took these three extraordinary individual’s lives for me, for the world, to move forward and make immensely necessary changes to each system that has unjustly neglected, mistreated, and punished people of color.
Additionally, my social scenes have dramatically altered, but each in a positive capacity. As it turns out, communication was exceptionally difficult with certain “friends” of mine that I felt uncomfortable to either reach out to or simply converse with. At first, it was distressful to see people gradually leave my routines, but after a while, there was a powerful rose trumping its thorn. It wasn’t that these friendships were rude or unbearably toxic, but that they darkened so that my true and trustworthy friendships glowed. I found myself surprisingly grateful for three friends of mine that have tremendously impacted my life both pre and post COVID-19, and I was later okay with the lack of communication and connection with my other friends. I’ve struggled with friendships in the past and because I adore symbolism and analogies, I’ve taped a mantra on my whiteboard that should pull me out of such battles I may face with future friendships: “I’d rather have two or three friends that can mutually benefit from each other’s love, rather than forty or fifty parasitically feeding off each other’s toxicity.”
2020 has left scars, indeed. It’s also left understanding, potential, and grit; it’s given me the opportunity to learn and absorb information and skills that I wouldn’t have otherwise understood after countless mistakes and fatigue in the coming years. I know that I am not alone in these experiences, and I am far from advocating for this year, but I do recognize the turmoil along with the potential that this year brought. Utilize this new perspective and apply it to 2021, where hopefully, we can make a change and ensure something like 2020 ceases to exist from the rest of a history textbook.