If you found yourself ringing in 2020, the start of a new decade, saying "This will be MY year-" you are not alone. I remember saying that back in January when I saw a tweet from Issa Rae; she had retweeted an old tweet of her's from 2010 saying where she was at the time, how she was going to take steps to work on herself. This was the kind of energy I wanted to bring into 2020; I had many goals, the biggest one was to study abroad. Overall, I wanted to make big moves for the beginning of the new decade physically and mentally.
And then, the pandemic hit.
For almost 10 months now, we have been turned upside down, round and round, and sideways by a storm no one saw coming. And even if you did have some idea of what coronavirus even was, I don't even think the daily horoscopes would have predicted that it's impact would force our society to adjust to an eerie new normal. COVID has impacted all of our lives one way or another- whether you or someone you know has gotten the virus or not. In many ways, its impact is quite literal as it's made even the most healthy sick and bedridden for days or weeks. In other ways, it's the ripple effects from stay at home orders, quarantine, social distancing, and all other new terms associated with the pandemic, taking a mental toll on our society. More people are staying home, less are interacting physically with others, and for our very social species- it's quite disheartening, to say the least.
In any case, I'm sure we've all heard about the negative aspects of this year- but are there positives? Surely the impact of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others have gotten the media attention and social media awareness it deserves. We saw more community activism now more than ever- the rise of BLM has shown us that real change starts from the ground up. We're nowhere near done, as injustices still plague our society, from racial profiling to police brutality- but we've done the first, crucial steps of making these injustices part of our daily conversation.
Aside from activism, personally, this year has shown me, and I hope has shown others, that we need the necessary space, and time to grow ourselves. You've probably noticed the Instagram posts, tik toks, youtube videos, and others, about letting go of toxic relationships, how to thrive in solitude, and other ways to cope with not being as social this year. For me, these were so important to see and to remind myself that even though I may be more alone this year, that I can use this time for self-growth and build on self-love to keep me fulfilled. As the lyrics of my favorite Jamila Woods song goes- "I'm not lonely, I'm alone." This has ironically become one of the goals for the year that I am definitely working on accomplishing, and I ended up doing some of it in ways that I think I wouldn't have thought of if it weren't for the pandemic. It has revealed to me that I can live a life of being who I want to be, and not of what others expect me to be; being honest and true to yourself is key. I am still trying to define myself without others and that has been one of the biggest challenges thus far, after 22 years of doing the opposite. But it is a beautiful journey- how freeing it is to know that I don't need another person to go out and explore the world, and have new experiences. And even though i lost a few people along the way, I gained more of myself, and gained others who have a similar way of living; they inspire me to continue to find my own. If you found yourself changing a lot during these pandemic months, it is common and more than likely that you are growing into your best self, even if you don't feel like it.
We have to acknowledge that the little things aren't so little anymore. "Productivity culture" may have you count the things you've "accomplished" in a day, or week and have you think that it's not enough. But something as simple as waking up in the morning, brushing your teeth, or eating on a regular basis are accomplishments to celebrate and acknowledge. After all, some of these are privileges that many of us take for granted. We can do what we can, whether it's donating, volunteering (with a mask & social distance when possible), or simply giving awareness to these situations, so that people in these positions can receive the help they deserve.2020 will be a historic year, to say the least. In world history, it would be known as the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, how it impacted our society in all aspects - politically, socially, economically. In US history, we uncovered more of the deep-seated roots of injustice, rallied together for the biggest voter turnout in election history, and have historic representation in one of the highest offices in the country. And our own histories, it may not have been our best year, and things might not have gone as planned- but hopefully, we have grown and changed for the better, knowing that in 2021 and beyond, the best is yet to come.