This year was rough. There’s no doubt that we all faced challenges we never anticipated facing. At the end of the day, I walk out of this year an entirely different person than I was when I walked into it. While dealing with the end of the year and the beginning of yet another uncertain year, I found myself thinking of all of the good that happened, no matter how small.
We take so much of that for granted. The small victories of our lives tend to go unnoticed because they feel less appropriate to celebrate over our bigger ones. With the constant uncertainty we are facing, I find myself celebrating these smaller victories way more than ever before. Celebrating the small things has led me down a path of appreciating the things around me more than I had previously. It’s helped me to feel like this year wasn’t just passing me by.
Personally, it’s felt like the last three semesters have just been one never-ending cycle of work. Spring, summer, and fall of 2020 are all blended together in my head. With maybe a two week break in between each, the stress of school has been constant. As I finished this most recent semester, I remember feeling a sense of relief that I didn’t know I needed. The burnout was real. Writing was becoming a struggle, which pained me in more ways than I thought it would. When I submitted my last final for the Fall 2020 semester, I literally cried. I didn’t think I was going to finish them because there was nothing left for me to give academically. Celebrating just the fact that I could submit my finals was the only thing keeping me going.
The small victory of just finishing finals and my second to last semester of college helped me to value all of the work I put in. All of these small victories make the bigger ones seem more attainable. I find myself wanting to push more to achieve as much as I can. While turning in a discussion post might not seem like the craziest thing to do, for me this past semester, it was. Accomplishing that each week on top of all of my major papers led me to celebrate the fact that I could do it. Each week these small celebrations helped me to want to get ahead and work faster. In the end, even though it was extremely difficult, I was doing it.
The small victories I focused on weren’t just academic, either. There were days when just the idea of having to get up and be productive made me want to scream. Those were the days that I celebrated just a little bit more. The pandemic, quarantine and staying home have taken such a toll on so many of us. Our lives have been upended and changed in so many ways that having days like that didn’t come as a shock to me. Celebrating on these days came in the form of taking some time to do the things that make me feel happy. Whether that was baking cookies and laying in bed to watch The Office all day, or picking a scary movie to watch at night, I always found even the smallest way to celebrate doing something as easy as getting up.
Without this year taking this unexpected turn, I don’t think I would’ve learned to celebrate the little things as much as I did. Life threw all of us in so many different directions in 2020, and we all had to find new ways to feel less trapped. Learning to celebrate and appreciate the small things has allowed me to change my outlook on just about everything around me. It’s improved my mood and allowed me to feel better about the things that I accomplish, no matter how silly they might be. This year has shown me (in more ways than one) just how resilient and ready to adapt to change so many of us are, myself included. While I struggled in ways I never thought I would — for instance, with my lack of a desire to write — we made it through, and that’s something to celebrate.