2020 Was A Year to Learn. 2021, A Year to Grow

Let me take you back to the end of 2019. Our Instagram and Twitter feeds were flooded with posts about how we were all going to use our “2020 vision” to make 2020 the best year ever. It was going to be a year unlike any other; according to all those memes, 2020 could do no wrong. 2020 was so popular and it hadn’t even begun yet. Even now, having made it through 2020, we can’t seem to stop talking about it. Why is that?

Unsplash/ Thomas Park

If you ask me, I think it’s simple: 2020 took everything that we believed to be normal and threw it out the window. Everything changed: our social interactions were halted, our beliefs were strengthened, challenged and changed, innumerable lives were lost, the world order was changing by the month… you name it. I mean, when a year starts off with the death of our beloved Kobe Bryant and an entire country on fire (remember the Australian wildfires?), what were we expecting really?  Even still, the world was continually stunned by the overwhelming amount of devastating and unprecedented events that continued to take place throughout the year.

Following every hardship that was thrown our way in 2020 was a valuable lesson to be learned. And, considering the immense amount of hardships everyone endured, I’m sure I can speak for many of you when I say that 2020 took us to school with the amount of lessons we learned. Let’s start with the COVID-19 pandemic. First, the sudden quarantine ripped us all from our extremely hectic lifestyles and forced us to take a deep breath that we perhaps wouldn’t have been able to take without it. The pandemic taught everyone to make-do with what they had, and made every one of us more resilient.

As the virus progressed and cases exploded around the world, we were all faced with a choice: to indulge ourselves in selfish hangouts and parties or to stay home in order to protect our communities and those we love. Though not everyone has heeded this message, COVID-19 taught us to put the needs-and in this case, lives- of others before our own wants.

reuseable surgical mask with phrase Photo by Tonik from Unsplash

Flash forward to May 2020, when the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police sparked a renewed interest and passion for the Black Lives Matter movement. Individuals around the world were confronted with their own racist values and were forced to evaluate their previous behavior. Everyone was faced with yet another choice: to either turn a blind eye to these ever-growing problems, or to make a daily commitment to antiracism in our daily lives. Again, another lesson surfaced. Even though it might be uncomfortable, are we going to look beyond ourselves in order to help those who need it?

I could go on and on about how much 2020 changed the course of history, but after a certain point, just like after any hardship, we need to leave 2020 behind. After all, no matter how hard things get, life still goes on. This is not to say that we should forget about it completely. It’s good to reflect on 2020 and the lessons we’ve each learned, but now, at the start of a new year, we are faced with yet another choice. Are we going to continue to go about our lives in the same way we always have, or are we going to take the knowledge we gained in 2020 and use it to grow into better, stronger people in 2021?

Black Lives Matter sign with man walking in front of it Clay Banks The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, and we’ve seen what happens when we pretend that everything is fine and continue to live our lives unmasked. Are we going to choose ourselves, or choose to protect the lives of others? In the same way, the call to treat everyone with kindness and respect still remains. How are we going to take what we learned in 2020 and apply it to our everyday interactions in 2021? The choice is up to you.

I think 2020 has gotten more than enough hype. It’s time to give 2021 that same energy that we gave 2020 way back in 2019. As we learned in 2020, the only way out is through. And we’ll keep marching through 2021, but we need to work together. A better 2021 won’t happen on its own; we have to make it. As we start this new chapter, I have one burning question for you: How are you going to live your life this year?