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We all know that despite a changed number, the onset of a new year doesn’t usually mean things have instantly changed. Much to my sadness, no one can snap their fingers at the drop of the ball to give us all a year full of clean slates. To recap: it’s 2021: we are still stuck in a pandemic, racial injustice still exists, and the world remains far, far, far away from being perfect. 

2020 was, may I be so bold, bad for most of us. I spent a lot of my time sulking, overthinking, and wishing things could be different, and I know so many people felt the same or even worse. But despite all the angst, anxiety, and other negative emotions 2020 threw our way, there were so many silver linings too. 

2020 was a year where we learned valuable lessons that normal years could never have shown us. Lessons about the importance of family, the persistence of love, the value of closeness. Lessons about slowing down, appreciating the little things. Even lessons about the soul savingness of music festivals and our favorite restaurants.

I’m taking these little lessons I’ve learned with me into this new year with the hopes of creating a better, more balanced, and more realistic year for myself. So without further ado, here’s my plan:

 

Truly cherish my friends.

With all the emphasis on staying away from others this year, I’ve learned a lot about the importance of people. Humans are made for community, and it’s definitely hard when we can’t all be together. In the past, I took for granted the chats over cups of coffee, the days at the beach, and even the simple act of running errands with friends. In 2021, I want to really cherish my friendships. Even if I can’t always meet them in person, I want to go out of my way to do something for them. Send them texts, call them, or even send them a letter to let them know just how important they are to me.

Appreciate the little things.

In life, we can be so busy. Running around focusing on our day jobs, our future plans, or engrossed in our phones. It can be easy to let the day slip away and think of it as ordinary. I want to change the way I look at life. I want to notice the shine of the sunlight on the leaves in the morning, watch strangers smile at one another on the sidewalk, or treat myself to a cup of coffee and an entire afternoon binge of Tame Impala songs. Life is precious and weird and fun and I want to treat it as such.

Take time to recharge.

2020 was a year that I spent most of my days hunched over a computer. I felt constantly on edge, feeling lost without a normal schedule or place to be. Long days, whether running around or at your home office, can be draining. Give yourself space to breathe. Go for nice chilly walks beside water. Stretch. Take hot baths. Let yourself sit and soak a little longer, remember that your body and mind need time to rest and recharge. It's not a waste of time and it’s not selfish, it’s a necessary part of the day that keeps you on task and helps fuel creativity. Whatever you love to do to relax, do it.

Get up earlier.

As a procrastinating college student, I have become so used to long nights at my laptop multitasking writing an essay, eating a second dinner, and scrolling on Instagram for the fifteenth time that day. This habit is not good for anyone. As I start a new job this semester, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and take the morning shift. Already I feel like a better and healthier person. I get more sleep, I have a better schedule, and I get my work done on time. It helps me get things out of the way and I feel more motivated.

Going with the flow.

A huge root of a lot of my problems is that I try to fight my reality. The onset of the pandemic definitely humbled me in my ability to try and control everything. Some things are just supposed to happen, and there’s nothing my little mortal body can do to stop them. I want to be better about accepting things I can’t control: whether that’s a worldwide pandemic preventing me from seeing my friends or someone else’ opinions about me, it’s time I save my energy for things within my reach.

No more empty apologies.

I think I’ve forgotten that kindness can sometimes mean sticking up for yourself. I’ve had so many times in the past where, despite not being in the wrong, I chose to be the one to apologize to avoid conflict. I’ve learned that this only incentivizes the person doing wrong and makes me feel like I’m the bad guy. I’m tired of saying I’m sorry when I’m not in the wrong. I’m going to be better about being kind to myself by sticking up for what’s right.

Enjoy life, no matter where or what it is.

I tend to live a lot of my normal life like it’s a transition period. I go through the motions, my body is here but my mind is on something I have planned later in the week. I forget that these things I do everyday are not transitions in my story, but vital puzzle pieces of my life.

Be better to myself.

This last point encompasses a lot of the above. Life is too short to be constantly bitter, self-hating, and on-edge. I want to do better for myself this year. In the past, I’ve seen resolution lists meaning this point as an excuse to diet and vigorously exercise, and while exercising and eating healthy is great and something I’ll be doing, I don’t think that’s what resolutions are for. We shouldn’t start the year instantly shaming ourselves into going to gyms before the sun and going on fad diets that we drop in a few weeks. Being better to yourself is about accepting yourself where you are. It’s about giving your body what it needs to be happy: whether that’s carrots and hummus or a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Brownie Batter Core ice cream (my favorite.) Not putting so much pressure on yourself to be the best, chasing after your happiness and passions, and taking care of yourself like you would someone else are some of the best and most healing advice I’ve ever gotten.

2020 was not a year that many of us prospered, but we certainly prevailed. In 2021, no matter how you decide to spend your 365 days, just make sure you’re taking care of yourself and remembering that whatever you choose to do is more than enough.

Camryn Teder

South Carolina '22

Camryn is a media arts major at the University of South Carolina. She loves Gus Dapperton, indie films, and her two dachshunds Gretchen and Heidi. You can find her laughing with friends over coffee, listening to Lily Allen on repeat, or day dreaming about Chicago.
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