Well, it hasn’t exactly been the 2020 I thought I’d be reflecting on 12 months ago.
This past year, everyone has been forced to acclimatise to a new reality which has been exhausting, isolating, stressful and traumatic in so many ways. Good old Corona has really given us the run-around, and has changed the way we’ll look at the National Health Service, keyworkers, small businesses and education forever. I’d like to think that such unprecedented circumstances have helped open all our eyes to what is really important and what deserves to be protected in our society when times get tough.
Not only this, but the resurgence of Black Lives Matter has awoken a consciousness in us that we need to look out for the effects of white privilege and institutional racism at every turn, and confront them. Especially with the multicultural and multiracial face of the NHS – the year’s undeniable hero – we cannot neglect to remember that the UK is a beautiful tapestry of cultures and ethnicities, all of whom are a welcome and integral part of modern Britain.
We must also go into the new year with the environment at the forefront of our priorities. While emissions briefly dropped during the first throes of the pandemic in the spring, they’ve since spiked again, and climate change is progressing just as rapidly as ever before. Governments across the world are making increasing commitments to confront the climate emergency, but more change needs to occur in our individual lifestyle habits to become more sustainable and protect the planet.
If this year has brought us anything, it’s been a brutal wake-up call – pretty much a slap round the face – to make us realise we have to do better. We have to protect both the people and the planet around us to make the world a better place moving forward, and we have to do so pronto.
As well as a total transformation of society, I’ve seen a transformation in myself this year. And whereas society’s adjustments will be temporary, I think the changes I’ve seen in myself over the past year will be lasting.
I think the same can be said for a lot of us. The pandemic has put strain on most areas of our lives, and forced us to alter our outlook on many things we previously took for granted or blindly accepted.
The distance that has been forced between us and our loved ones – whether it be family, friends or significant others – has made us appreciate them all the more, as well as put into perspective whose presence in our lives is truly the most important. For me, this has helped me reform even closer connections with those I love most and have realised I can’t live without.
Conversely, constant proximity with others has led to further realisations about both them and ourselves. While it caused the breakdown of certain relationships for some, living through lockdown with others woke me up to how important the company of people I care about is to me. I couldn’t have got through those restricted periods without my parents and later my friends at uni to cheer me up.
I’ve also surprised myself with how I’ve been able to cope with it all. For me personally, s*** hit the fan in 2020 in many ways besides just the pandemic, and when the first lockdown began in March, I thought I’d crack under the pressure of it all. Instead, I’ve been able to find some strength somewhere within me to be able to reassure myself and those around me that everything will be okay, and that’s something I’m super proud of.
2020 has been a surprising opportunity to prove to myself that I can be resilient even when it feels like the world is crumbling around me; I hope that’s a common theme among all of us as we enter the new year. Whatever it throws at us, we’ll be able to deal with it – we’ve already got this far.