I think that it’s safe to say that this last year has been a rollercoaster. More importantly however, it’s been impactful on all of our lives. Some good, some bad, some even life-altering. In the first few months of 2020, I think that many of us had the automatic assumption that this year would be different given that it was the start of a new decade. Little did we know, the start of the 2020’s would begin with a worldwide pandemic.
As for many of us young people, we’ve been hit with the harsh reality of online school and cancelled trips, sports, and more. Moreover, I think it’s safe to say that COVID-19 has negatively impacted the mental health of young people across the world. In terms of my own mental health, I started off the school year trying to be as genuinely positive and productive as possible. Meaning, I did online school just as seriously as I would in person, and I went through my day-to-day habits as if nothing had happened. However, I came to the realization that my life was going to change more and more as the pandemic progressed. But when I really realized this, it was my birthday, and I was heartbroken with the reality of not being able to see my friends and loved ones and celebrate it the way that I had always planned.
So like everyone else, I was forced to actually spend time with my family. Though it took almost six months for me to notice it, overtime, I grew so much closer to my family. Closer in the sense that we didn’t just make more inside jokes and learned new hobbies, but I was able to slow down and grow a stronger emotional connection. A connection that I don’t think I would’ve had if the pandemic hadn’t forced us to.
I think that in the midst of this worldwide mess, some of us have become more genuinely grateful for our loved ones. Yes, this obviously includes our immediate family, but also loved ones of no blood relation. Throughout spring, my childhood friend and I would take two, or even sometimes, three hour walks together (social distancing of course). Now when I think about those hours we’ve spent together - just walking and talking to each other about what we both were feeling at the time. I don’t think I’ve ever been closer to her than I am now. For the first time in our young lives, we were forced to get off our phones. We also were able to stay away from the stress and drama that comes with school. In some way, I see this pandemic as an aid that helped me focus less on the small things and more on the important things in life. In May, I hated how much it had altered my own individualism, but now it doesn’t bother me so much.
However, as much as I am somewhat grateful for this radical change in my own personal life, I don’t want to seem naive. COVID-19 has changed me in many not so drastic ways, but it has wreaked havoc on the lives of thousands of people throughout the world. Besides the impact that COVID-19 had on us, there were still events that occurred over the summer of 2020 that were beyond significant. Through my own perception I felt as though the world was up in flames, especially after the death of George Floyd. In addition to the massive impact that COVID-19 had on our society, when the protests and riots broke out, that was when I knew that this year would beyond change my life.
With the historic changes towards the movement of equality that have spread across the world, I feel more motivated to be a progressive young woman. Moreover, I think I’ve finally been able to understand and acknowledge the injustices that are still occurring in this day and age. Injustices that shouldn’t be just seen and heard, but injustices that must be stopped for the sake of universal equality.
With that, I feel as though I have grown far more throughout the past year than I would if the world hadn’t gone up in flames. I am grateful for my loved ones and the emotional connections that I have able to grow and mend. I am also appreciative towards the health that my loved ones have been able to maintain throughout the pandemic. So for this coming new year, I hope for the best of all my fellow peers throughout this very big, yet very small world. I may not know most of you, but I believe that all of us are closer than ever before.