Last year was quite the year. From "Tiger King" to TikTok and everything being cake, it seemed that the historical events and pop culture updates never stopped coming. But after a year filled with political polarization, protests for human rights, a pandemic and endless amounts of Zoom calls, it’s time to step into 2021. 

After the year we have had, most of us are asking ourselves the same question: now what?

We have lived through more this year than most people do in a decade. Typically, the new year represents a new beginning and time for growth, but this year we are stuck in the same pandemic that took over 2020. Faced with a new year that feels exactly like the previous one, 2021 doesn’t feel like it holds much promise. But that just provides more opportunity to grow.

New Year's resolutions are a hit or miss for some people. While some use the time symbolically as a new beginning, others find New Year’s resolutions to be overly restricting or self-deprecating. Whichever stance you take, it is important to remind yourself to be kind and loving to yourself.

Junior Miranda Abunimeh, a public relations major, does not believe in New Year’s resolutions, but strives to treat herself in the kindest way she can.

“We live in this culture that’s constantly setting these goals to make yourself better,” Abunimeh said. “But at the end of the day we are all human, and we only have ourselves.” 

Moving into 2021, there are many ways to heal from the previous year. Here are some symbolic practices you can do to feel yourself enter a period of change:

Journal

Writing down your emotions in a five minute word vomit session will help relieve so many anxieties you didn’t even realize you had. There’s no pressure to make your journal aesthetically pleasing, and there is no pressure to even have a journal to write in. Any paper can be your journal, and if you are feeling particularly aggressive or emotional, crumble up the paper when you are finished and throw it into the trash. A symbolic way of letting the negative emotions go. 

Gratitude

It is so important to pay attention to the little things that make us happy. Keeping a gratitude list to add on to, or listing three things a day you are grateful for, positively increases our mental health by reminding us of the beauty in our lives.

Abunimeh said she practices writing a gratitude lists in her free time. 

“For every bad thing, it takes ten good things for us to stop thinking about it, so I’m trying to see the good,” Abunimeh said. 

Remember that even the smallest details count, and whatever you want to remind yourself to be grateful for is exactly what should be on the list. Furthermore, we survived. If 2020 has taught us anything, it is to be grateful for life and good health. 

Try something new

Whether that is a new hobby that interests you or something that looks hard but you have always wanted to try, give it a go. Challenging our brains prevents cognitive decline and stimulates new connections between brain cells, making it a fun and effective way to stay healthy. 

Freshman nursing major Grace Borah suggests trying winter sports. Borah said making the best of the weather in any situation is a great way to challenge yourself with something new. 

The best activities are the ones you enjoy and that make you happy, so use this time to find a new activity to love.

Ultimately, the best way to end 2020 and enter 2021 is the way that works for you. Whether that be through journaling, trying something new or doing nothing at all, try and keep a positive outlook moving forward. We have lived through a lot over the past 365 days, and deserve to pat ourselves on the back and just be nicer to ourselves for that.

As humans, we have no control over how things play out, but we do have control over how we respond to them. Let 2021 be the year of self love and positive mindsets, because who knows what will happen this year.  

Sydney Flucker is a staff writer. 

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