Learning from the past year

We are getting closer to ringing in the new year, something that many of us have been longing for. When the ball dropped last year, none of us imagined 2020 would unfold a global pandemic, socially distanced holiday parties, losing loved ones to a virus, virtual education and many more moments that were a history in the making.

When it was time for me to graduate college back in May, I felt this overwhelming disappointment wash over me. Planning my graduation party and how I would decorate my cap were tossed out the window. The pandemic came rushing in, causing the graduating class of 2020 to feel like the last four years ended anticlimactically.

My university moved the in-person commencement ceremony to December but I did not attend. The only real sense of accomplishment was capturing my senior photos and waiting for my diploma to arrive on my front step.

We cannot deny that 2020 was rough but what lessons can we take away from the year?

Understanding that we are not going through this alone is vital. Students and teachers diving into the unfamiliar world of virtual learning comes to mind. School districts had to adapt somehow in order to still provide the education that students need, rather than completely neglecting the idea for a year. There needs to be a little more positivity and patience from all ends — students, teachers and staff.

Stay in touch with family and friends; it’s crucial to check on every person in your life. We should also think about the frontline workers who are dedicated to making our own lives just a little bit easier. Even sending a text message, email, personal written letter or phone call can brighten somebody’s day.

We should also check in on our own mental sanity. When we help out other people to a great extent, sometimes we forget to think about what we need to do for ourselves. Stress can consume us where we are pulled in all of these different directions. Our ability to handle it all spills like a cup of tea. Take a moment to breathe and think about what you need to do to help yourself.

Count your blessings because there was at least one person that had it worse than you. People lost their jobs, loved ones or even a business that has been in the family for years. Now, in the holiday season, is the time to really focus on what you do have rather than what you don’t have.

Here’s to saying goodbye to 2020! It’s been a year of historical events, news headlines and creative face masks. While we may not fully move on from this year, we can only hope that 2021 brings a little more joy than pain.

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