2020: Review, reflect, restart

The past year was difficult for everyone, but 2021 provides new opportunities and the hope for a better, and hopefully less challenging, year.

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The past year was difficult for everyone, but 2021 provides new opportunities and the hope for a better, and hopefully less challenging, year.

For many, 2020 was the reality of a worst-case scenario. It impacted almost every aspect of daily life for the majority of people around the world, although some of its harshest effects were felt in the United States. As America enters a new — and hopefully better —  year, it is time to look back, reflect on 2020 and decide how to move on. 

At times it seemed like the U.S. (and the world) faced one challenge after another, but many forget there were a few positive events amongst the stress and hardships of the year. Some of the biggest events of 2020 include: 

December 2019: approximately March 2020: While it does not directly affect America, the Australian bushfires that start in late 2019 carry a vicious path of destruction into the new year. 

January 16: The first impeachment trial of 45th president Donald J. Trump begins. He is charged with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. He is acquitted of all charges on February 5.

February 20: Sometimes referred to as the Coronavirus Crash, the stock market crashes worldwide, sending the U.S. into a serious and unforeseen recession.

March 13: President Trump declares the coronavirus a national emergency two days after the Center for Disease Control and Prevention states the COVID-19 virus has escalated into a pandemic. As case numbers rise, cities across the country and around the world begin what will become known as lockdown, leaving the world’s population isolated, confused and scared.

March through June: What began as a two week lockdown turns into a months-long quarantine order for much of the United States (and world). In order to contain the rapid spread of the virus, people are instructed not to leave their homes unless absolutely necessary. Many businesses close, schools abruptly shift to online learning, and new safety measures like covering one’s face in public and  social distancing are put into effect. To combat widespread isolation, people turn to baking, home improvement and crafting as a means of coping. 

Summer 2020: Sparked by the police-led killings of George Floyd and countless others, the Black Lives Matter protests sweep the nation as they advocate for justice and change. Some of these protests escalate into riots, resulting in violence and chaos in some cities. 

December 11: In the midst of a sustained coronavirus case surge that began in late October, the FDA approves the first COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer) for emergency use.  

December 14: The electoral college confirms that Joseph R. Biden will become the 46th President of the United States in what is likely the most contested presidential election is U.S. history. 

2020 ended without much of the pomp and circumstance usually seen on New Year’s. Instead, people across the globe rang the new year in through Zoom calls and on couches, reflecting on one of the most trying years on record. 

Sophomore Brett Phillips commented on 2020,  “ In my opinion, the biggest event of 2020 was the first announcement of the lockdowns. It directly impacted everyone and caused the beginning of the feeling of [social] distancing. The lockdowns began the mood for the rest of the year as I began to stay inside for the most of the day instead of leaving the house to participate in activities.”

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic seemed to be the most influential event of 2020. At the time of this writing, over 400,000 people in the United States had died from the virus. The periodic lockdowns and quarantines separated millions from their loved ones while disrupting routine and heightening feelings of anxiety, depression and fear. 

One of the few positive outcomes of the pandemic is that people better appreciate the meaning of family and togetherness. During those long months in lockdown, households across the country suddenly found themselves spending 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with those they lived with.

However, the inability to see friends and family in-person placed a strain on many familial relationships. Though texting and video calls became a solid substitute for annual get-togethers or celebrations, they were unable to substitute for face-to-face interaction. As a result, people found themselves bonding with their immediate family and simultaneously communicating less with friends and extended family. 

On the impacts the pandemic had on her relationships with friends and family, Freshman Sophie Vaughan stated, “One positive thing that happened this year was I feel like we [my immediate family] got closer because we saw each other so much…It allowed me to grow closer to some [friends] and farther from others. I got a lot closer to one of my friends from dance, but some of my long time friends and I don’t really talk.”

Some people may wish to completely forget 2020, but it is important to remember the little things, like learning how to knit or deciding to plant a garden, that made the year bearable during its most trying moments. 

“…I believe we should remember this year to learn what will work and what will not in case similar events are to occur in the future…One thing I have learned from 2020 is to appreciate the things you have. People do not truly appreciate what they have until they are gone or taken away,” Phillips said. 

Despite every challenge 2020 presented, life goes on. It may not return to what used to be “normal” for a while, but 2021 provides a fresh start, a new page in the book of human history. It is a chance to put the past year behind and look forward to the year ahead.