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2020 has been a challenge, but challenges can be great learning experiences! I decided to sit down and think about the biggest life lessons I’ve picked up from this past year. I focused on the positive takeaways, so hopefully you can also see the good that came out of this crazy year. 

Life is hard, but we are capable.

It’s easy to feel defeated by the restrictions of a pandemic. A lot of career, academic, and relational goals feel out of reach. But in 2020 I realized that a pandemic can’t stop me from growing and learning. I can still work on my goals, even if those goals now look a little different. For example, I found ways to network and expand my job skills online. I worked hard at online school and found ways to learn with less support. In 2020, I even developed my skills in cooking and budgeting. If 2020 didn’t feel productive for you, that’s okay. The takeaway here is that we don’t have to be held down by external circumstances. Regardless of what the world looks like, we are still capable of setting and achieving goals.

Life can be fun, so focus on that.

I recently looked through my photos from the last few months and realized that I actually enjoyed a lot of 2020. Of course parts of this year were difficult, but there were so many good memories too! I remembered socially distant walks with friends, blanket forts built with my siblings, and new recipes I’d made. I remembered late night laughs with my roommates and how much fun I’d had decorating our student apartment. Focusing on these highlights helped me to get a fresh perspective on how much I’ve still been blessed with. 

Life is about the people, so make relationships a priority.

As I thought about 2020, I noticed that all of my biggest goals and my brightest memories revolved around people. The fact that seeing people in person was a challenge this year made me appreciate my relationships even more. I valued every interaction, even with masks and other COVID regulations. When people called or texted me, even to just say hi, I was thrilled to hear from them. Relationships became a huge priority and, looking back, I can say that every minute I put into developing a good relationship was worth it.

Looking for the life lessons in 2020 doesn’t have to minimize the challenges. It’s been a rollercoaster of a year. However, thinking about the positives has helped me to appreciate the good in this year and get even more excited for opportunities to grow in the new year.

Alex Veenstra

Waterloo '24

Hi friends! I'm a Business and English student in my third year at UWaterloo. My passions include drinking tea, finding awesome thrifted clothes, and getting connected around campus!
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