It’s safe to say 2020 has not been the easiest year. We’ve gone from Australia catching fire, to murder hornets, then on our shores we saw California ablaze and on top of it all, an election. In this hectic storm of events it can be easy to lose sight of all the good that has come, despite the bad. 

This year has been so challenging, so it is even more important than ever to look to find the things we are grateful for. If we decide to call this year a wash and let it go down in history as awful, with nothing of merit coming out of it, then we lose. If we learned something new, met someone important, or just got to slow down a bit and really live in the moment, and recognize that, we win.

So, in this season of gratefulness, it is time to reflect back and truly give thanks for, if not the easiest year, the time, nonetheless.

It really is an understatement to call this past year anything short of a wreck. The coronavirus has stolen months out of our lives, and we’re all getting good at blaming it for ruining things.

But it’s time to flip the coin: what has gone right this year?

First of all, the campus has opened, and we were allowed to study in person, which was something most of us didn’t think would be a possibility. Not only that, but with modern technology at its level, virtual events have been more easily accessible and can accomplish most of the objectives of in-person.

With all of the world on computers nowadays, the alacrity of email response is heightened, making a quick question for professors speedily answered.

Outside the academic sphere, this year has brought new friendships and strengthened old alike.

The saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” is 2020’s social hallmark. I myself found that missing friends was something that made me feel closer to the people who I’d known for ages.

Being told to stay inside and not socialize presented a challenge that, when it was overcome, tightened relationships between people and gave an opportunity to rise to the occasion. We saw improvised tailgate parties, where those involved displayed their care for others by socially distancing.

As time went on and cabin fever spread faster than COVID-19, the restrictions finally loosened and outdoor gatherings became possible. This created the growth of exercise buddies and general healthy living.

Not only did quarantine create the perfect situation for “going the extra mile” in one’s social life, but also in one’s personal life. This year has been the bastion for personal growth, from learning a new language to sourdough bread baking, people have time and again proven that adversity can breed self-invention.

How many people also grew closer to their families because of restricted work travel or quarantine? Closer living may have at times been strenuous on families, but it also provided for bonding and reconnection, which no one can put a price on.

As communities all dealt with a common threat, individuals, no matter how different from each other, shared in the hardships and grew more interconnected. We chose to push through it, even if we didn’t like it, for the betterment of those around us.

So 2020 hasn’t been easy, nor has it been carefree, but at the end of the day we learned so much. 

We learned small things, like how it makes a mother smile when a child takes on some more responsibility around the house to take some stress off their parents. We also learned big things, like the value of true human kindness in the face of adversity. But most of all, we learned how to rise to a challenge and make the most of a rough situation.

Dawson Neely is a staff writer. 

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