2020: A Year like No other
Where do I even begin?
I wanted to write my personal recollection of what transpired this year so I could tell my grandkids that I was one of the survivors of 2020.
This year has been everything but ordinary. It's like everyone's put into this arduous game of survival of the fittest. Congratulations if you have made it this far!
I would like to believe that with all that's happened, things could not be any harder from here. I wish this is the case for everyone. Sadly, it may not be for the millions of families who suffered losses.
Aside from it being "breath-taking" (pun intended), it got most of us sitting at the edge of our seats as we watched big, mostly unprecedented stories unfolding across the globe. Murphy's Law was in full force!
And being able to write this blog at this point gives me a sense of relief for having survived what to many of us felt like a crazy roller coaster ride.
2020 started rough for me as I realized that I might have positioned myself where I was exactly a year ago – at the point of exhaustion. I just moved to a new city away from my family and loved ones, joined a new company and juggling multiple tasks in my new role. I could have probably earned the right to claim I am a super woman with all the extensive efforts I put into my work this year. It's probably one of the highlights of my career. Ever. I can't complain. At the end of the day, I got a job that pays. I’m grateful.
Little did I know that it was just the beginning of a series of challenges ahead. In mid March, the COVID 19 pandemic broke and since then, we all have been witnesses to the many unfortunate events of global scale that could possibly happen in one’s lifetime. But I think this is still nothing compared to the world war back in the days.
Though many would say 2020 has been the worst, I believe it is one of the most important years of our time. With the rigid restrictions, everyone's life was put into a jarring halt - all of a sudden, we were compelled to approach things differently. Not that we had a choice really. In all my lifetime, I have never come to deeply appreciate human's resilience and adaptability more than before.
In the midst of a looming pandemic, many lost their jobs as businesses were unable to sustain their continuous financial losses. Unemployment rate rose for countries around the world, millions of people suffered and some sought refuge from food banks, generous donors or the stimulus packages provided by the respective governments. The apparent social divide between the rich and the poor had only grown wider.
On a positive note, we found ways to adapt and connect as we always do. With the lockdown period, many have resorted to creative means of keeping themselves sane and staying connected with others. Tiktok, Facebook, IG and other social media have been popular platforms for stardom or boredom. Not to forget cooking, baking, binge-watching “Tiger King” or Korean dramas on Netflix (I have probably watched all of them!), even growing plants(???) were a fad! LOL. While other businesses unfortunately suffered huge losses, Amazon turned up to be the biggest winner in this pandemic with an increased number of people finding retail therapy on online shopping. Gift giving was also made easier with just a click of that “confirm” button. (Ugh. I probably spent my usual travel budget on shopping this year!) And yes, you can also send food to your families and friends now via Ubereats or Doordash. No excuse for skipping on birthday presents!
Over the last 9 months, we have somehow managed to go on with our lives, albeit painstakingly. Zoom has become our best friend providing virtual connections with our loved ones and the rest of the world. I didn't know there is this thing called "zoom fatigue" until my introverted side started feeling exhausted from hours of video calls. But thanks to zoom, I was able to "be virtually there" for my friends' weddings, shower parties, baby showers, birthdays, all sort of celebrations and sadly, even funeral. Indeed, we could not be any more grateful for the technology that we now enjoy. This year would have easily become another version of the “great depression” era if we didn't have this connection as many struggled to live through prolonged isolation and financial constraints.
I wish this year's sights were as normal as a 20/20 vision suggests. Or maybe its offering is for us to obtain a clearer recognition of the things that truly matter to us. It is indeed a year of significant realizations and lessons learned. It's like someone pushed the "reset" button, our lives just changed in an instant and we were made to look at "life" from a different lens – a simplified view, back to basic.
Life is short and tomorrow is not guaranteed. Everyday is a blessing to behold. A lesson we kept re-learning over and over yet this year just had this important reminder written in the most discernible way. We grieved the many lives that were lost to the pandemic and disasters - natural or man-made, some families never even saw their departed loved ones for the last time. On the other hand, we also welcomed the gift of life for babies who with their parents fought their way into this world even in this most difficult time. This must probably be a good year for procreation for couples spending more time together. ;) The best that could ever come out from 2020!
This pandemic taught us that there are some things we cannot control. There is a limit to what power and money can do. It cannot protect you from a dreaded virus, at least, not until a vaccine is developed. Even world leaders were not spared. ("It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”) This virus does not discriminate anyone. It knows no status, race, affiliation, border, etc.
It also presented an opportune time to reflect on our relationships. With families and people in the same household locked down together, it was an opportunity to make up for the lost times. Gone are the days of dragging yourself through your busy schedules outside home and neglecting the people who matter most to you. Families were more engaged and connected than ever. Parents are more "present" in the lives of their children over the last 9 months. (Teachers are venerated by parents as they struggle to answer their kids’ homework. About time!) With constant togetherness, either you are able to patch things up or you realize it may already be too late to make amends.
Speaking of relationships, kudos to some couples who braved out all odds and still pushed through with their wedding plans even if it meant celebrating with just the 2 of them plus the officiator (while the ceremony was on live streaming or families/friends were parked outside the church to celebrate with them from afar - really touching!) Besides, it is the best time to get married on low budget without feeling guilty for not inviting your distant relatives. LOL.
Many heroes also emerged during this crucial time - our frontliners and those who provide essential support to the vulnerable, the needy and the general public. Most of them did not even get to see their families for months. We honor them for risking and/or sacrificing their lives for the greater good. We realized they have been underappreciated all this time. We could not thank them enough.
At this point, we probably would have developed a better appreciation of the simple things that we neglected in the past years – smiles of people we encounter each day, a simple pat on our shoulder, a tight hug or just being near each other.
After all, 2020 may have been the “pause” that we all needed – a defining year for many of us. It has probably turned us into the stronger version of ourselves as we fought through to survive this year. Hey, you owe yourself a pat on the back! And although it may be a great test to humanity, we have become better social beings, people capable of great love, compassion and resilience. We were there for each other, lifting each other up.
While we all suffered to a varying extent, there must be a thing or two that this year has positively brought to us. And for whatever it is, I hope that it would help us move forward with a firm resolve to face whatever lies ahead. I pray that things will only get better from here. Remember, we survived 2020, we got this!
Personally, I choose to remember this year for all its blessings and meaningful moments. I thank God for the guidance and protection over me and my loved ones. And I am grateful for everyone who stood by me and helped me get by this year.
As per my yearly tradition, here are my 2020 highlights in a video. :D (You may need to clear some cookies to view this youtube link.)
May God bless us all. Take care and stay safe everyone!