Defining 2020

It's not every day you see a quote in a cafe bathroom that somehow embodies the entire year. "You are a beautiful f*cking mess, 2020." At first, I considered the accuracy of the smudged canvas. No, 2020 has been terribly, ridiculously, would-literally-never-want-to-experience-again, bad. As my brother would say, "sh*t hit the fan in 2020." But that got me thinking; 2020 supplied my brothers, and by association me, with significant moments of celebration. 2020 couldn't have been completely awful then, right? Of course not, Ana! Think about the people you've met, the things you've accomplished, the three Bad Bunny albums!  Eventually, I concluded that the original quote was as veracious as any would ever be. 

There's no denying that 2020 was a mess, for reasons I don't have to unmask. It was a year that not even the "there's a rainbow after every storm" nonsense-talking aunties could salvage, regardless of their dedication to Hallmark cards. Because, in all honesty, 2020 wasn't a storm—it was an all-engulfing tsunami. It was the elongated equivalent of what would happen if Voldemort, Kylo Ren, Hannibal Lecter and Thanos were cooped up in an elevator that only replayed trending Tik Tok songs. I'd put Donald Trump in the elevator, but that would be an afront to cinematic legends. Besides, he didn't have to be in a hypothetical to demolish 2020. Trump actualized such an excessive amount of absurd things that his impeachment felt like one more egg in the ingredient list for a Cake Boss cake. When the United States became a petri dish for Covid-19, I was (and still am) frustrated and outraged at how the administration handled a pandemic threat. Then, I was (and still am) a rare blend of disappointed and enraged as racial tensions escalated and police brutality reached perilous heights. 2020 was exceedingly overwhelming; I seldom had time to sufficiently process a disaster before all social media platforms announced the subsequent one. The wildfires, the Beirut explosion and other humanitarian crises seemed to domino each other, happening faster than I could finish a show (and trust me, I’m an avid binger). On a personal level, 2020 procured a generous share of losses for me. During finals week last Spring, my dad having Covid and my dog passing away happened within days of each other. 

Where does the beauty come in, you may ask. The protests garnered substantial change and revived a too often neglected movement, for one. The compassionate responses to Covid-19 and other social or environmental emergencies reminded the world of the power that unity garners. 2020 was a year of reflection and introspection, of thinking about our communities instead of ourselves, of listening without the intent to berate. Coming back to school in August, I imagined this school year would be one of solitude. I was wrong; the people I've met this year have unquestionably changed my life, even if in the subtlest of ways. My leadership positions in VEGFSU, the FSU MFOL chapter and Woman Student Union connected me with individuals who share my passions, particularly regarding the justice we all deserve. What was once a "Suwannee Squad" group chat now serves as the designated medium for spontaneous (yet entirely predictable) dinner plans. My commitment to Black Lives Matter introduced me to my research partner, who has a tangible influence over the coffee I order at our frequent coffee runs. 

During 2020, I revived old friendships and nourished novel ones. I faced complex conversations and reached even more challenging conclusions. I matured in ways that only a year as miscellaneous as 2020 could have provoked. 

Waves and Boat Photo by John Cea from Unsplash Maybe I take back what I said about 2020 being a tsunami (I apologize to your inspirational aunt). 2020 wasn't a tsunami, but it clearly wasn't a modest storm. Likewise, there's no rainbow patiently awaiting its appearance, ready to apologize for the circumstances that preceded it. To me, 2020 remained a restless sea, an unwavering yet fierce ebb and flow of tides that, try as you might, never seem to elude you. This analogy only works, though, if you take control of your ship. That is, just because you can't control the waves doesn't mean you have to drown in them. (It's me, I'm your aunt.)

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