20 Things I Learned in 2020

Shayna Sullivan ‘22

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, something that has seemed to be lacking is joy. It seems that no matter how big or small, everyone in the world has lost something this year. As we have come upon and passed the one year anniversary of when our world was taken completely off course, it is hard to not think about everything that this year could have been and was not. In the midst of such pain, suffering and loss, it can be hard to look at what we have gained from this year. It can be very difficult for people to look at 2020 as anything other than something that most people wish could be erased. Our challenge for 2021 is to look at all of the good things that this year inside has done for us. We should take inventory of the things that we do have because of the pandemic and focus less on what we don’t have. Now this is not to take away from the unmistakably terrible year this has been, but instead to shift focus from the bad to the good. One of the most important things that I have gained in this whirlwind of a year is perspective. I have learned to look at the world and the people in it differently and with more appreciation than I once did. Here are 20 important things that I have gained perspective on in 2020 that I with take with me for the rest of my life. 

  1. College doesn’t last forever. Something that has been made painfully clear to me in this year is that even though 4 years seems like such a long time when you are 18, it doesn’t last forever and it goes by in the blink of an eye. If there is one thing I could encourage my past self to do, it would be to spend more time doing things with my friends. Of course, I made amazing memories from the first year and a half of school that I will never replace, but when quarantine hit, I found myself wishing that there were even more memories. Go out to dinner on a tuesday night, hang out with people you don’t know. Make the best of your four years because you never know when a year and half of those 4 years could be taken from you. 
  2. Another that I have learned this year is how to be at peace with being by myself. I never thought that I would be spending 3 months in my room watching netflix shows with only a few core people to keep me company. I have learned that it is okay to be by yourself at times, and sometimes, it is really nice. I got to know myself again and lately, I have found myself missing those months where things were new and I had virtually no responsibilities to anyone to myself. 
  3. It is okay to take a break at times. Sometimes, doing something for your own well-being is the most productive thing you can do. No one can be successful when they are running on fumes all day. Rest, care for yourself, check in on yourself. You cannot do good work if you are not in a good place physically and mentally. 
  4. Appreciate family time. Covid-19 has shown us that family is so important and that getting back to spending time with the people that you love can be so rewarding. 
  5. Saying something in the face of adversity is so much better than staying silent. Actions speaker louder than words as well, fight for justice, and make sure that you are standing up for what is right. No one should be afraid for the well being of them or their family because of another person or group of people. 
  6. The people around you make up your support system, appreciate them, and let them know how much you care. Not being able to go to work, school, or spend time with friends showed me how much I truly love doing those things. The people you meet in all aspects of your life make up your support system. Doing something nice 
  7. If people want to keep in touch, they will make that effort. When life became virtual, true colors were shown. Don’t put effort and energy into relationships that others seem to not want. Your time is important, your love and energy is important. Use it on people who will give the same energy back. 
  8. You could find friendships in places that you never thought they would be. Virtual life has made it so hard to create new friendships. You may find people in places you never expected. Through classes and zoom, I have a few friends that I talk to on the phone about classes almost every day, but we have yet to hang out in person! 
  9. Find healthy coping mechanisms. Being alone can show you just how little you really know how to do with your time. Pick up hobbies, find things that bring you joy. 
  10. Saving money is SO incredibly important. 
  11. Certain things affect people in big and small ways. Do not compare pain or experiences, all people have different thresholds of how much they can handle. Do not judge others for what is affecting them. 
  12. Do not take anything for granted, things that you though were 100% guaranteed could be taken from you in a matter of minutes. One of the most devastating things I had to do in 2020 was move out of my sophomore year dorm room and say goodbye to my roommate for an unknown period of time. It was small in comparison to everything that happened, but it broke my heart. Appreciate everything. 
  13. Be proactive rather than reactive. 
  14. When we need to be, we can be resourceful. 
  15. We don’t always have the chance to say goodbye to people we love. This year, people had to say goodbye to the ones they love over facetime. One thing that I have implemented into my life is to always tell the people I love that I love them when leaving and before going to bed every time. 
  16. How to appreciate the little things in life. 
  17. People are what makes our economy thrive, without them, we have nothing. Please, when things become safe again, go out, support local businesses. These businesses are the backbone of our economy and they have suffered over the past year. 
  18. Human interaction is so important to our well being. 
  19. Change is inevitable, welcome it. 
  20. Acknowledge that with every adverse experience, there is something to be learned. 

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