In 2020, I Saw and Learned Some Wild Things

The year has been slow and still, revealing and revolting, fuelled by revolution and evolution, backed by greed and commercialism. Many bridges have burned, and so have our forests. Millions have died; millions of others designed their tombstones. And babies were born. Soft, tiny babies.

Almost a year inside, after economic activity stopped, and started, and then stopped again, and our normality shattered.

One day in March, I went to class, and then the next day, I didn’t. I received my Bachelor’s Degree via Zoom in April and deferred moving to the United Kingdom by another year in August. Then I went back to waiting. I’m still waiting.

None of that matters though, because I was one of the lucky ones.

This year, I haven’t had to wear a mask for hours, nor have I had to hold the hand of someone in the hospital as they drew their last breath. I haven’t wondered where my next meal would come from, and I haven’t lost my taste. Or my Mom and Dad.

That’s one of the lessons I learned this year: if you’re lucky, recognize it. Then try to spread that luck to others.

What I did do in 2020 was read a lot. And I wrote, and I stared at my phone as CNN spammed my blue and yellow lock screen with heartbreaking updates. As the days and months turned into one, I found that the selflessness, altruism, and empathy many were displaying was — if I travelled back in time to 2019 — unimaginable. The same goes for 2018 and 2017. Maybe it’s because we were all sitting at home with nowhere to run from the truth, but people, big people, important people, started listening, really listening, to the other sides of the story.

By the summer of 2020, the dusty rug, inhabited by inequalities stretching back decades, had been ripped up from under the billion-dollar corporations and the prominent government institutions. And health care workers around the globe had transformed from heroes to superheroes, capes and all, proving, at last, that magic does exist.

(One could argue the same for teachers — elementary school to tenured college professors. They showed up, and they stayed longer. Barriers went down, and we saw them for who they are: people.)

However, in a year infamous for being unpredictable, some things did remain the same. Which would be cool, I guess, if these things didn’t suck — and they do.

While people’s empathy and dedication to others surprised me this year, the complete disregard other communities had for the victims of COVID-19 and the brave men and women fighting to save them didn’t. The extreme outliers of society are always lingering, and this time, they escalated a virulent pandemic.

Takeaway

We are all at an age to feel, and this year hurt. Acknowledge that; it’s in your right, but then remember to acknowledge the lives lost and the lives of the healthy that are still on the line.

The world will endure some considerable changes over the coming years, and I think they will be for the best. At least, I hope they will be.

What I know is that if things are better, the people leading the way will be those who got us out of 2020 with some pride still attached to our name. Mine and yours.

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Caroline Winston

Caroline Winston

Inspired, thought-provoking journalism. A hub for business, technology, sport, culture, and everything in-between.

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