Ugh… Do I even want to do this?
No. I don’t.
But… ugh… Fine! I’ll do it.
What a year it’s been, am I right? If you’re anything like me, and God help you if you are, you’re probably looking back on the year that was 2020 and having a difficult time coming up with a pro/con list. I mean, it’s probably super easy to think of the cons. But when it comes to the pros… what’ve you got?
I was looking back at previous year in review posts that I’ve done. When I came across the one I wrote for 2016, it reminded me of how negative everyone was at the end of that year. So many people were looking forward to 2017 because 2016 had been so rough. Sure, looking back, 2016 was pretty rough. But I think most of us would trade 2020 for a dozen 2016s.
Every year in our history has its ups and downs. I’m starting to think it’s human nature for us to mostly focus on the downs. It’s hard not to. Every time you turn on the news, you’re bombarded with everything that’s wrong with the world in which we live. Sure, a lot of broadcasts will try and throw in a happy, good news piece at the end of their respective half hours. But that’s not going to make us forget about the previous 27 minutes of “This politician said this while this other politician complained about it!” or “COVID numbers are at an all time high and there’s nothing you can do about it!” or “Remember murder hornets? They’re still a thing!”
The reason the media focuses on the negatives is because it’s easy to sensationalize the negatives. You hype up all those attention grabbing headlines and that’s what brings in the ad revenue for the evening broadcast. But why do we, as individuals, focus so heavily on all the bad that’s been happening? Why is it so hard to sift through the darkness to find the light?
At the same time, it seems like a lot of people are unrealistically optimistic about a new calendar year. I’ve seen it all over social media and in group texts that I’ve sadly been privy to. It’s as if there’s this common belief that at midnight tonight all of our problems are going to just disappear because it won’t be 2020 anymore. It’ll be 2021.
I realize I’m a cynic at heart, but I take no joy on bursting that optimistic bubble that so many people are holding on to. Just because tomorrow issues in a new year doesn’t mean our problems are going away. COVID still exists, even though there are plenty of individuals out there who would argue that it never did. Just because a vaccine is in the beginning stages of rolling out doesn’t mean that things return to normal overnight. Our struggling economy will continue to struggle. Our politicians that are supposed to be working for us will continue to bicker about petty issues while their constituents suffer the consequences of their inaction. The Black Lives Matter movement may have gained incredible momentum this year for the most tragic of reasons, but the conversation is far from over because there are a lot of people out there who just don’t get it.
In my little world, 2020 was just… I don’t know. To say I wasn’t affected would be ignorant. But I can honestly say that 2020 did not affect me as negatively as it did for probably a majority of the world.
As an introvert (yeah, I know, you’re probably tired of hearing about how much I’m an introvert), I embraced quarantine. You mean I don’t have to leave my home for an extended period of time? I don’t have to deal with people out in public? I can even have my groceries delivered to my door? Uh, okay… sign me up. For me, getting back to normal and meeting with people face to face has been the more difficult adjustment after several months of solitude.
Sure, I missed out on being able to comfortably be with family or friends on those rare occasions that I actually longed for human interaction. But how blessed are we to live in a world where high speed internet is readily available to most of us? Zoom… FaceTime… Skype… There are so many ways to connect that we couldn’t dream of 20 years ago. Well… no, I take that back. I’m sure people were having those livestream meetings 20 years ago… the quality just wasn’t as great.
I really do get it. It’s hard to look back and see the good in 2020. And it’s easy to look ahead to 2021 and hope for the best, even if our expectations are above and beyond what’s real. But I’m going to leave you with a challenge as we wrap up another year of human existence. Don’t tell me what was bad about 2020. Don’t even tell me what was good about 2020.
Tell me about something you learned in 2020. What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about the people closest to you? What did you learn about your community? What did you learn about the world we all share?