2020 Vision: The Year Nobody Saw Coming

When it comes to vision, 20/20 is as perfect as it gets. There’s balance between the eyes, and no assistance is needed to live a visually clear life.


But when it came to seeing how the year 2020 would go, there weren’t enough eye charts in the world to help us understand the ways our sights would change. Instead of rose-tinted lenses, we were trying to see the chaos caused through eyes brimming with tears at tragedy and injustices. This year of 2020 was the year that nobody saw coming. Let me tell you why, in a reflective way that may make you wish you could unsee this year’s course.


Much like any other year, 2020 began with the promise of resolutions and a chance to be better. That was, until everything got worse in each passing month.


The year began with global bushfires and floods. As hundreds of thousands of people found themselves without a roof over their heads, we stood on the precipice of a 6-month-and-counting quarantine.


And we’re the lucky ones.


Later in the hellscape of 2020, we would find out how the severity of the current pandemic was suppressed. Pressing fingers to temples to ease the steam pouring out of the collective citizens’ ears at the complete carelessness for people’s lives… the same ones these authority figures vowed to protect and always put first. The hot air of those who only claim to care about our wellbeing couldn’t be contained by masks. And don’t even get me started on “maskne,” aka the chin and cheek acne to rival puberty.


The news began to be littered with statistics of case numbers. It was the lack of hospital beds, the under-protected first responders, the testing centers. This was all coupled with the hallmark phrases of “the new normal” and “unprecedented times.” We sat at the edge of our seats, riding a rollercoaster with too many loops, praying the curve would be flattened and we’d be able to remove the seatbelt.


Except we were all free-falling. And the Devil was the rollercoaster-ride-controller.


It’s high time we began to take this seriously… and that was only March.


Complementing the chaos of wildfires was the way hot-button issues around human rights were made political.


Where has humanity gone?


These infernos burned hotter and faster with the injustices against George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, just to name a few.


“I can’t breathe.”


This was the year of social media activism, black-out days and the power in numbers of public grievances and many peaceful protests… until they weren’t.


We were threatened with murder hornets. And honestly, that felt like a welcome change. At least the atrocities wreaked weren't made at the hands of humans.


As spring breaks around the country crept up on higher education, we were seized home and introduced into what I like to think of as the “Zoom Cinematic Universe.” We were bombarded with commercials about the ease and accessibility of the online meeting host site as we started to live our lives—personal and academic—in 3x4 boxes.


The summer, which is usually full of sports fanaticism, felt interminable without the roar of fans in stadium seats. Instead, we made mad dashes to paper product aisles in stores to secure the last packages of toilet paper.


And they thought 2012 would be the year of the apocalypse.


In a world where people still support a presidential candidate who cannot actively denounce white supremacy and a vice president who is unfazed with a fly special guest in a debate, that is where we currently live. Granted, our President-Elect is worlds better than the current. But our work is far from over. We may be able to take a breather... but there is more to be said and done still in this upcoming administration.


The United States… or rather, a state of moral panic and mass chaos, hysteria.


“Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking,” the collective woman felt that as our bodies are still policed by men who will never understand what they’re like and still feel obligated to take advantage. But hey... now we'll have the first female VP. Way to go, Kamala.


We’re at a severe disadvantage with the aged candidates. They cry that Generation Z is the voice of our future but aim to manipulate voters and suppress rights altogether.


The year is still not over.


And yet, I’ve found myself feeling sorry for myself.


In the (almost) 12 full months, which has felt like 12 years, that 2020 has tortured us, how did I find the time to mourn for what I missed?


Well, I’ll tell you.


I was whisked from my university at spring break and did not return until August. I frequent my campus so little that I document the days I get to step foot and feel a sliver of okay-ness.


Otherwise, I’m relegated to the world of unstable Internet connection. I’m trying to leave my mark on the world and earn my degree, but I’m really only being given the chance to ‘Leave Meeting.’


I should’ve spent my 21st birthday pouring love and booze with my best friends. I spent the day with people I love, but it wasn’t the celebration I imagined. At least I can drink my sorrows away (kidding, of course).


I found myself—still do, actually—facing burnout. A lot of it. My ambition was flushed down the drain, along with a lot of my last firsts in college.


My last first day of in-person classes. My last first Homecoming parade and game. My last first time picking up a print copy of the Winonan. My last first time facilitating the welcome meeting to my beloved Her Campus writers. Hell, even my last first time grabbing an asiago bagel and a strawberry-banana smoothie at the lib was thrown away.


The prospects of a physical ceremony, even though it’s in May, are looking slimmer than my last nerve of patience.


And that’s where I start to see my vision issue.


Because in this world that’s so full of bad, I should try to see the bright spots, the light at the end of the tunnel… tunnel-vision.


I spent so much time with my family. I got back into reading. I learned technology troubleshooting tactics beyond turning it off and back on again… hey, have we tried that for the year 2020?


I learned to be more compassionate—to those who I already loved, to those who I didn’t, to everyone around me. We all need a little more love at this time.


I learned to be more vocal—about my mental health, about political and social activism, about checking in with loved ones and hearing their voice at the other end of a phone receiver. I received the message. 2020 helped me talk more and also listen more.


I got more involved—becoming a recluse in your home for the better part of eight months had me itching for things to do. I involved myself in puzzle projects, in community goings-ons, in leadership roles for the newspaper and other extracurriculars.


And that doesn’t make me self-involved.


I think it’s easy for all of us to say, “oh to see without my eyes” and disregard all the destruction this year held. And we’re still in the midst of it right now, as I’m typing this, as you’re reading this.


But as we set our sights on a more hopeful 2021, I hope we all have the foresight to appreciate how tough we had to be to survive 2020. Notice who stuck with you. Cherish them.


And may the dumpster fire of 2020 carry warmth into a year where we can wipe the slate clean.


I can see it now.