The ebbs & flows of life in 2020: the year that turned everything upside down
Updated: Feb 4, 2021
How does one adequately put into words a year that completely turned everyone’s world upside down with absolutely no preparation for what was to come? It feels impossible, right? It’s as if, just when you think you’ve rummaged through the debris of devastation and found the words to describe this year, they’re gently whisked away into thin air and 2020 proves yet again that this year simply cannot be explained.
No one knew that when they excitedly counted down the seconds on December 31, 2019, that they would be welcoming in an endless roller coaster ride in 2020. No one knew that the thunderous fireworks and vibrant parties were in celebration of the arrival of a year that would leave us with more questions than answers.
Naively, we all thought that we would only be at home for a few weeks and that things would go back to normal given some time. People came to grocery stores in droves, ironically stockpiling enough toilet tissue and paper towels to last an entire year. Everyone was in a frenzy and even with the almost apocalyptic-like energy that loomed, still, nothing could prepare us for what was ahead.
There was no step-by-step guide that showed us how to stay afloat in the middle of a pandemic. People were losing jobs, families were losing loved ones, the Black community was being attacked (which is nothing new, but add to that the weight of a pandemic, and it starts to feel impossible to keep going), our government was failing us in the middle of a mass health crisis, and the list goes on.
Turning on the news or simply picking up your phone to scroll through your social media feeds quickly meant that there was a chance that you would undoubtedly be bombarded with difficult or disturbing news to digest-- this, in turn, created the daily battle between preserving your mental health or staying informed. And even if preserving your mental health meant not turning on your TV or scrolling through social media, there was still the reality that we were “stuck in the house”, some of us completely alone and missing the ability to be in the company of another human being-- something we may have taken for granted before.
Soon, it became incredibly clear that life would not be going back to normal and that any sense of normalcy that we once had would be transformed into something unfamiliar to us all. Everyone’s long list of extravagant plans for this year collectively flew out of the window and none of us knew what to do when time slowed down for the entire world. And for someone like me, a recovering control freak, this year was the grandest reminder that I can't control the inevitability of the way life will always throw you for a loop.
As the months continued to pass by, each one feeling like a year in itself, the constant question became: how much more will 2020 put us through?
This year shined a light on the finitude of time-- how it’s measurable in years and decades but can mean a life gone in the blink of an eye. This year shined a light on how we are all constantly going, working relentlessly to make it in a capitalist society that tells us that our worth is attached to how much we’re able to produce when slowing down and being able to rest is just as important. This year shined a light on just how much things shouldn’t go back to what we called “normal” because as a society and a country there is so much that has been called to our attention that calls for immense change.
And even with all of the tumultuous events that 2020 created, there were still gleams of hope and pockets of joy that we were able to find-- like finding a diamond in the rough. The phrase, “appreciate the little things”, became less of a cliche and more of a necessary declaration to life. Every belly aching laugh and shared smile with the people we hold nearest to our hearts was something to savor like we never savored before.
For some, like myself, this year may have turned out to mean more to them than any year that they could have ever strategically planned for-- with the only option being to finally slow down and fully take on the beautiful yet sometimes painful process of coming to know themselves and take the time to heal the parts of ourselves that we wanted to ignore.
Some days, I still stop in my tracks and try to process the fact that this year actually happened and it’s not some terrible, vivid nightmare. It feels like all the words in the world still would never be enough to accurately describe this year which is why I can’t fathom the idea of summing it all up into one blog post or even being able to touch on every single thing that impacted us all.
Beyond the grand scope of things, we all lead our own separate personal lives and have had highs and lows that no one may ever know about, and as we prepare for a new year we all have stored memories of what this year has done to us and those around us. For some, this year may have looked bleak from the very beginning and they still can’t see the sunshine after the rain. For others, this year turned around in one way or another, and even in the midst of chaos and they were able to find their joy again. If you’re the former, I hope you find your diamond in 2021.
Life in 2020 was nothing like we imagined it to be and with this in mind, I hope that we prepare ourselves accordingly for life in 2021, stepping into it with empathy and grace for ourselves and others. Optimistic and hopeful about the future, but mindful that our plans are always subject to change.
Thank you for reading, and as always... be great. xoxo