Courtesy of Angelina Witting
How has 2020 changed me? This question has been dancing around my mind for a few days before writing this. I suppose my biggest trouble with this question is that I hate to give power to a year. Something that is really nothing. It is simply a collection of days, months, a number that we use to keep track of how many sunrises have happened, or how many orbits around the sun we’ve had. I don’t believe the year has changed me, rather the events within it. Even then, it’s the people who tend to have the greatest impact on me.
It’s no doubt that 2020 has been a year full of shock, heartache, and isolation. But, I find it interesting how each person who lived during this year was impacted, or changed in a different way. For me, 2020 taught me I was an introvert.
My whole life I was told I was an extrovert. For ages I was proclaimed the “life of the party”, which to be fair, I was. I enjoyed the spotlight, but for only so long. I slowly noticed myself growing tired, and irritable after a few hours of spending time with friends. Not to mention, if I was interacting with a stranger, my energy drained in minutes. Gradually, I found myself prioritizing alone time over hangouts with friends. But, this realization came as a relief to me. I no longer thought I was a bad person for getting sick of my friends after a few hours, or for wanting to skip a hangout. Thankfully, hangouts were few and far inbetween this year. Similarly, this discovery helped me through my eight weeks of quarantining as five of my family members had COVID. Believe me though, this perspective will not be all about my profound discovery that I am an introvert.
2020 taught me how to truly be grateful. There are so many different things in this world that people often take for granted: health, family, friends, and honestly just a daily routine. I know students around the world were shocked by how much they grew to miss their classrooms, myself included. But, as the year progressed, I learned to count my blessings and truly give thanks for everything I did have in my life, even if it wasn’t always perfect.
2020 taught me to stop letting opportunities pass me by. I used to pass up early morning plans for some extra sleep, but now, I jump at the chance to go see a beach sunrise. This concept has also helped me discover my love for early mornings and drives to the beach. There is something so peaceful and refreshing about waking up early, driving to the beach with one of my closest pals, and sitting on the beach, drinking coffee as the sun rises. An even more beautiful fact is that I realized my phone will never capture the awe of the sunrise. No matter what I try, my eyes will always see it better, and I think that is a greater message. Perhaps that message is sometimes you just need to experience things for yourself or maybe it’s that you can’t make everyone see the true beauty in something. Nevertheless, now I rarely pass up a chance for a last minute adventure.
2020 taught me that reading isn’t bad. For most of my life, I dreaded reading. However, this year I began to find books that actually sparked my interests and now I read almost everyday. It is refreshing to take a break from the technology and just sit outside and enjoy a good book.
2020 taught me that sometimes, it is better to help others over yourself. While I understand the importance of self-care, I have learned that personally, I feel a sense of fulfillment by helping those around me. There is something uplifting knowing that I am making somebody’s day better, just by giving them some time out of my day.
Finally, 2020 taught me that even in hard times, you can still learn and grow as a person. Furthermore, I have found that especially in these hard times, it was easier to grow and to evolve. You really learn a lot about yourself when put in undesirable situations and I think it is important to focus on self-reflection and look within yourself. If you see something in your life that you are unsatisfied with, what are you going to do to change it? People need to stop taking things lying down and start chasing their goals and the conditions they want for themselves. Sometimes this means letting go of friendships or relationships that no longer serve you any benefits, or maybe this means cutting out negative behaviors. Nevertheless, whatever it means for you, go chase it.
We all hope for a better 2021, and I’m with everyone on that, but sometimes I wonder if I still would have grown as much if 2020 hadn’t been as bad as it was. But, I guess I’ll never know.