Reflecting on this Past Year: COVID-19 Edition

As focus shifts to the vaccine rollout in Canada, it feels as though there’s an entirely new thing to become enraged over; 2020 was an unusual year, jam-packed with unimaginable circumstances. In a personal attempt to turn over a new leaf, I took to my Instagram and asked my peers about the main lessons they’re taking away from the past year. For the sake of anonymity, I’ve limited individual identification to their school name and graduating year. 

Here’s what they had to say: 

Changing Your Life is Within Your Reach

person wearing grey hood sweater Photo by Kylie De Guia from Unsplash

“Health/lifestyle changes are not as daunting as they seem and are achievable!” - Western, ‘23

YouTube has become rampant with people sharing their incredible transformation results and fitness journeys. Being forced into lockdown demonstrated the importance of discipline and self-motivation in setting realistic goals for yourself. Remember to take it slow — sustainable change doesn’t happen overnight! 

Be Grateful for Life

pink notebook and plant Photo by Gabrielle Henderson from Unsplash

“Be patient with yourself, you’ve got your own company for your whole life.” - Waterloo, ‘24

Wise words from our respondent. Being isolated for so long has forced many of us to acknowledge our thoughts — in whatever form they may come. When social media is all we see of other people, it becomes easy to compare ourselves to them. As already stated, you’re stuck with yourself so you may as well make the most of it. 

“Stay positive and never lose hope because time is the best healer!” - York University, ‘ 23

This year marked harsh losses for many people; there is no replacement for the presence of a loved one, but with time, you begin to make sense of life again. It’s never easy, but allow yourself the time to grieve and feel your emotions. Honor your loved ones and keep looking forward. 

“Seize your current opportunities before you regret it.” - York University, ‘23

This one hit hard for me. I spent the bulk of my first year at undergrad feeling miserable. By the time I decided to seize opportunities the following year, it was too late. I had never expected that my entire second year would be done virtually, or that such a drastic thing could prevent me from enjoying various experiences. I was naive and thought nothing bad could ever happen; sadly, this is a reality for many young people. We like to believe we’re invincible at this age but the pandemic came swinging. Take a chance while you’re lucky enough to be alive. 

Accept Reality 

Women siting on her bed Photo by Kinga Cichewicz from Unsplash

“Not everything in life is fun.” - Western, ‘23

It may seem harsh, but it’s the truth. Life will throw curveballs at us — in fact, it already has! Learning to navigate these dark times is vital to making the most of our lives. 

“The importance of improving technology.” - York University, ‘23

Technology accessibility has become prevalent this past year. Those of us in a position of privilege failed to realize the challenges that others faced this past year. While we can’t discredit the importance of technology, it’s important to recognize areas of improvement. 

Reevaluate the Circle Surrounding You

friends by fire on beach Photo by Kimson Doan from Unsplash

“The year off really helped me evaluate the toxic friend circle I had gotten myself involved with during my first year in uni... coming into a completely new environment with barely any friends that I’ve had for 4 years in high school, I always tried to find ways to fit in and during that process got stuck in certain circles... I was really able to learn a different side of people over the year and also was able to take more time to myself to work a lot on myself mentally and physically to better myself.... funny thing is I was never the one to “focus on myself” and never gave attention to “mental health” but I’m glad I did that over the year and definitely saw many benefits and growth!” - York University, ‘23

Again, another tough one to swallow. Sometimes we outgrow people; other times we simply lose touch. The people around you should always bring out the best in you (and vice-versa!). It can be easy to ignore toxic relationships when we don’t give ourselves time to think through the situation — but don’t beat yourself over it! The distance we’ve had this past year is a great time to reflect on the people in your close circle and to evaluate the different relationships. On an episode of ‘The Mindset Mentor,’ the host, Rob Dial, discussed a study conducted by Harvard on the key to living a happy life. The study found that strong, meaningful relationships are the single most important aspect of our lives — so be sure to guard them closely! 

woman wearing a white dress and jewelry Photo by nappy from Pexels

Although the light at the end of the tunnel is nearing, I’d hate for us to forget this past year of growth and learning. Be sure to reflect on your experience and evaluate where you are now. It fascinates me how different everyone’s past year has looked — some people have built a stronger relationship with God, others have invested in therapy, and some have only complained that their life remains stagnant. 

You hold the power to reinvent your life. The question is, where do you want to be a year from now?