When the new year begun, 2020 started the same as any other year. The first case of COVID-19 in the United States wasn’t detected until Jan. 20. Celebrations weren’t hindered by safety guidelines for those who wanted to ring in the new year together.
It could bring a sense of sadness to recall how normal the year started out. I spent my last hours of 2019 with my family and close friends playing dominoes, blissfully unaware of the turn the upcoming year was about to take. I didn’t know the next time I saw my friends we would be socially distanced.
I experienced the disappointment felt by the class of 2020 graduates. While my high school held a graduation ceremony in the summer, I chose not to attend. The only time I wore my cap and gown was to take some pictures as a memento for the occasion that had turned from joyous to bitter.
My last day of school, I remember students cheering when administrators and teachers announced that we would be getting an extra week to our spring break. I lingered outside of my last class that day, talking to my teacher about how insane it all was but that I would be happy to be back to normal in two weeks. As I left, I had the sneaking suspicion this would be my last time in that room, although I pushed it off as purely negative thinking.
There is no lack of stories to tell from this year, and I’m sure 2020 triggers specific feelings for many people. Time may ease the pain we collectively experience this year, but there are some lessons we should never forget.
When the pandemic first sparked panic in the U.S. and shutdowns were in effect, essential workers put themselves at risk while providing necessary services to keep their communities running. While complete shutdowns are not widespread again yet, we can’t forget to pay respect to those we rely on when times get tough.
Students need to be mindful of their teachers, who may be learning new skills as they try to continue teaching their students with as much normalcy as can be maintained. Reversely, patience from parents and teachers is needed with students. Changing a learning environment can be a challenge that makes keeping up with schoolwork more difficult.
The current circumstances also place emphasis on keeping in touch with family and friends. Don’t neglect to send a text or call someone you care about but haven’t talked to in a while. It might mean a lot to someone to have a friend reach out and check in on them.
It’s also crucial to check in on yourself. Take a moment to breathe and think about what you need to do for yourself. Overlooking your own needs during a stressful time might cause more problems.
This year may go down in history for testing humanity’s strength and willpower. Although I hope we all emerge from this year in a better state, it’s difficult to determine how well we will be able to fully move past this year. While there are lessons that should not be lost in our memories, we can only wish for 2021 to ease some of the pain from a tumultuous year.