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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Penn chapter.

If I had been told everything that would happen in 2020 during January of that year, I would’ve probably stared at you in shock. 

I don’t think anyone could have anticipated the events of 2020: a global pandemic, devastating storms, threatening wildfires, an incredibly close presidential election, social and political turmoil, and more. It’s unreal to think about how a year ago, life was so different — for everyone. People traveled with little to no concern for their health. Masks weren’t a necessity when leaving the house. We could see our loved ones in person. 

There’s no doubt that 2020 was awful — it resulted in the deaths of millions of people, a damaged environment, and civil unrest.  We’ve all been forced to adapt to a new way of living. 

However, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. 

Already, coronavirus vaccines are being brought to healthcare workers. People are beginning to realize the disastrous effects of climate change. People have discovered the power of using their voices as citizens to protest, vote, and incite change. We now realize the importance of cherishing the moment while we can. 

In some ways, 2020 taught us to never take things for granted, no matter how small — the ability to travel, see friends in person, attend events and concerts, and learn in a classroom. As a society, we’re now more resilient. We understand the importance of social distancing in order to keep others safe. We recognize we must address climate change, political ambivalence, and police brutality. We’ve adapted to new ways of socializing — nearly every aspect of our lives has moved to a virtual environment.  

While these aren’t the most ideal circumstances, we made it through. We managed to attend classes and meetings via Zoom, regularly wear masks, not return home for the holidays, and follow quarantine procedures. We were lucky. Some of us may have had the misfortune of contracting coronavirus, or had a loved one who did, but we’re still here. 

Despite all the challenges and issues from 2020 that still exist, we’re now in the middle of a new year. 2020 forced us to adapt and cope, and hopefully taught us to come together as a community and look out for those who are less fortunate than us.

2021 will be better because we have learned how to deal with the most devastating, complicated problems last year with courage and fortitude.

Of course, the lifestyle changes brought about by 2020 will most likely remain. Wearing masks and following social distancing precautions will still be necessary in our every day. However, these restrictions will become less and less foreign as they remind us to keep ourselves and the ones we care about safe. While the situation may still be far from normal and often feels uncomfortable, most of us now realize this is what must be done to ensure a COVID–free future. 

And once normalcy returns — and it will one day — people will be far more grateful to experience moments of their lives they may have previously taken for granted. In the future, we’ll appreciate and reflect on the memories we missed out on in 2020: in-person Thanksgivings, walking across the stage at graduation, traveling the world, and spending time with those who are most important. For those of us who missed those chances, 2021 brings a fresh start to make new memories. 

2020 will be remembered as a pivotal year in history, but that doesn’t mean the future has to follow suit. People all over the world have faced obstacles no one could have even imagined, but through the process we’ve hopefully learned to be better — more open-minded, compassionate, and adaptable. 

For now, don’t lose hope. The best is yet to come!

Emily is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania studying Biology, and she also loves reading, writing, and learning languages. Outside of Her Campus, Emily works in a research lab at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and hopes to become a doctor one day! In her free time, she can be found playing tennis, looking for concerts in Philly, or buying more candles she probably doesn't need.