A Reflection on 2020 and the Pandemic
For most of us 2020 was a less than ideal year to say the least, but it was full of lessons that we can reflect on through 2021. We lost loved ones we thought were invincible, memorable events like graduations were moved from stages to screens, and our “normal” became “not-so-normal”. A year full of heartache and frustration but not lacking in triumph and resilience, 2020 has shaped many of us for the future that lies ahead.
The greatest challenge we faced in 2020 was the beginning of the Covid-19 Pandemic, a virus that most of us had little to no knowledge of nor how to handle it. But to our rescue, virus experts and healthcare workers all across the globe came together to help fight coronavirus and educate us on how to keep safe and protected. Doctors and nurses spent days and nights working to restore patients’ health, while sacrificing their own physical and mental health. As things got tougher and tougher, not once did they let up, and going into 2021 we must all continue with their same resilience.
A difficult year for all of us, the first year of pandemic pushed back and erased important moments like graduations and weddings; it changed our little ones’ “first day of school” to their first Zoom meeting; holidays previously spent with loved ones were celebrated a bit more lonesome. And quite frankly, this sacrifice and disappointment is not over -- but it will be eventually. Let us not start off 2021 with defeat, but with resilience, and let us reframe the way we see setbacks and changes in these unprecedented times so that we may keep pushing forward.
Many of us experienced losses in 2020 that we could have never imagined; the loss of jobs, the loss of relationships, and the loss of loved ones. More than 22 million jobs were lost in the United States due to Covid-19. Numerous partnerships and marriages didn’t make it into the New Year. Over 350,000 lives were lost to coronavirus in 2020, and millions were left to mourn.
While the losses may define your 2020, they do not define you nor your 2021. Job loss is never ideal and quite stressful, but the situation isn’t forever nor are you alone. If there is one thing to take from 2020, it’s that there are so many people willing to help -- people everywhere were sharing GoFundMes to help families pay rent and provide groceries after being laid off, food drives and meal delivery services were organized, and folks were willing to share any community resources they could find for those in need. As you head into 2021, remember that it’s okay to need help sometimes, and whenever you’re in the position to help, pass it on.
For those in 2020 who mourned relationships, platonic and intimate, remember that it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. Relationships come and go, and while the loss of one feels especially lonesome in a pandemic, you are far from alone. If anything with the rise of TikTok and Zoom, 2020 has shown us we never have to be alone. There are so many people on the internet to connect with or relate to through their content, our friends and family are just a FaceTime away, heck, people have even started dating during this pandemic from their online connections! By no means am I saying to rush to talk to internet strangers in your 2021, but realize that there is love all around you and plenty of new connections will be made in due time.
Lastly, the loss of loved ones in 2020 is something so indescribable. We lost people we thought we had much more time with. We lost people we didn’t realize we cherished so much until they passed. We lost people we didn’t get to say goodbye to. In a year where we couldn’t see most people outside of our immediate households or coworkers, loss of those we couldn’t see just seems unfair. When you lose a loved one without saying goodbye or sharing a few last moments that you know you’d cherish, it feels like there’s no closure -- especially when you can’t even hold a normal funeral. These losses are completely unfair, and you can take as much time as you need to grieve, but know that one day that pain will ache less. While you couldn’t have spent more time with them, you will learn to smile when you reflect on the time you did share while also cherishing the time you still have with other loved ones. Whether you lost someone or not, let the experiences of 2020 challenge you to cherish the conversations and quality time you still have with others as nothing is promised.
Sometimes 2020 felt like it would never let up, but it made us stronger and more resilient than ever. A year full of loss and lessons we didn’t ask for, while also a year of community, growth and new experiences. 2021 is still an open book and who knows, maybe some things may repeat themselves, but it will not defeat us but rather challenge us to grow, adapt and help one another.