Life throws curveballs at us all the time, and I can definitely say that the whole year of 2020 was a curveball. I was a senior in high school when 2020 started and am now a first-year college student studying at Wake Forest; I think it is fair to say that 2020 came at the peak of my development into an adult. I don’t have all of the answers, but here are 10 things that I have realized about life this past year.
- Change is good
You can’t control your life, so let every change make you a better person. This version of yourself wouldn’t exist if the pandemic didn’t happen or if you didn’t endure the changes that came throughout this year. I have learned to appreciate the changes and not always look for security in familiarity. Change has always been super hard for me, and I would not always cope with it in the best ways. I looked at the negative side of change and all that would be different, so it was hard to see all of the good ahead. Once I learned to grieve the past and made peace with the fact that things would never be the same in all situations involving change, I am able to move on and look at the new person I will become, the new people I will meet, and the experiences I will have.
- Love yourself
You are in your body forever, so you better love it. During quarantine, I got caught up in an exercise crazy mindset (Chloe Ting, running, spinning, etc.) and tried to use the time to try to drastically change how I looked. I realized that I was exercising for the wrong reasons and that I should not only be content with the way I looked but in love with it. The real progress came from when I started exercising to feel healthy, energetic, and happy. It’s not enough just to love your body, but love your whole self too. Being alone so much because of quarantine made me realize that you are only guaranteed yourself and your body for the rest of your life. No one else is going to be with you constantly, so there is no use in spending your life hating yourself. You are your best company.
- Don’t be selfish
Of course, I was always taught not to be selfish, but this year has really hammered this idea into my head. As people, we all have to work together. Every decision you make affects someone else. The choice to stay inside, wear a mask, and be safe cannot just be ignored even if you aren’t scared about getting sick. This idea of selflessness can be applied to all parts of your life. At least for me, I feel like a better, happier person when I know that my actions are not harming others. Not only did I stop acting in ways that harmed others, but I also looked for little, easy ways to make someone’s life better. Recently, I have been a lot better at paying compliments to random strangers and reaching out to old friends to let them know that I am still here for them.
- Cherish your loved ones
Life is so fragile. You never know what tomorrow will hold, so hold your loved ones close when you can. Like most of you, I was not able to see my grandparents, relatives, or other loved ones for a little under a year which is very rare for me. Being ripped away from family members and the people I love because of the pandemic made me realize how much I took them for granted. I thought they would always be there. Pick up the phone and make that call. Schedule a Zoom. Text your loved ones. We need to put in the effort to keep these relationships strong and show the people we love just how much we love them, even if we cannot be with them all the time.
- Live in the moment
I realized that all I used to do every second of the day was look forward to “better times” or look backward to “better times.” There was not a single moment that I would be content where I was. It’s funny because these same moments that I didn’t spend loving in the present are moments I wish I had back. For example, I would always complain about being in school, but now looking back, all I wish for is to be in a normal school setting. Just know that these are the times you will be nostalgic of in the future.
- Tik Tok is awesome
I’m just gonna throw this one in there. Thought it was weird, until I downloaded the app. Moving on…
- Mental health is more important than school
Maybe some of you guys won’t agree with me on this one, but I know I’m right. I used to prioritize school above my general wellbeing. I let it add to my horrible anxiety, and it caused me to have many mental breakdowns in high school. I felt like I was unable to keep up with friendships and even started to distance myself from family because of my workload. I had to make every assignment so much more detailed than it needed to be and drove myself crazy trying to hit all of the deadlines. However, now I think it is important to recognize that the ultimate goal in life is to be happy – and everything you are doing should lead to that goal. If school is causing a decline in your mental health, reach out to your professors! They will more than likely give you an extension or help you come up with strategies. People care about you and you are not defined as just a “student.” In addition, people will never know that you are struggling if you don’t reach out; they cannot always read your mind.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff
The pandemic really made me put all of my small issues into perspective. I used to worry about anything and everything, from petty gossip to what outfit to wear, but then I realized that some things just do not deserve my stress, time, or energy. Try to put everything into perspective because there is no use in worrying about minor inconveniences.
- Not everything is a competition
Throughout this whole pandemic, so many people have spent time arguing with each other about who got it the worst. In reality, everyone had to sacrifice so much. What’s the point in minimizing other people’s sacrifices or struggles? There is no benefit in tearing other people’s feelings down to justify your own feelings. Both are valid, so leave it that way. This can be applied to so many aspects of life including issues dealing with mental health. Everyone should always be able to feel that their feelings are valid because they are! Just because you think you have it worse, doesn’t mean they aren’t hurting any less. It is all relative, and everyone deserves to tell people they are struggling without fear of judgement.
- Do what you want
We don’t have enough time for you to worry about what other people want you to do. Like I said earlier, the ultimate goal in life is your happiness. Live for yourself and not anyone else. I still struggle to change my mindset to this, but I am working on it. I think this is a very important lesson to be learned because no matter what decision that you make, you cannot please everyone, so start with yourself.
2020 has been a crazy year. I hated 2020. I loved 2020. But, most of all, I learned from 2020. Even though some may consider it the worst year ever, it has allowed me and most others to grow as human beings. I am a whole new person coming out the other side, and I am insanely proud of who I have become. This is a year that will be written about in history books, and we were here to witness it. I think all of us can say that 2021 is well overdue, and I cannot wait to see what lessons this year teaches me — hopefully, in a less extreme manner 😉