This time last year, most of us were preparing to visit family for the holidays and begging our teachers for some extra credit before the semester ended. As we look around us, some start to contemplate how this year went—the good, the bad and the ugly.
Growing up, my family had a really cute tradition to help sort these feelings out. The whole family would get together and write two letters each. One consisted of what we want to leave behind this year, the other is what we were thankful for and how we would use that to set our goals for the next year.
There was only one catch: nothing listed could only be for your benefit. It had to be a desire you want to share with the world or an aspect you want to remove altogether.
Since there are about 40 members in my mom’s family alone, coming from everywhere—from Florida to New York and New Jersey—a reunion like we have always done is no longer safe. So I found myself doing this activity alone, no longer surrounded by a room of positivity that gives me ideas and inspires me.
I was able to let out my frustration in the first letter, leaving behind everything I did not want to take with me to 2021. Depression, hatred and hopelessness were among the first ideas. But I struggled to write my second letter. What could I possibly want to take with me to 2021? 2020 was terrible!
As I stared at a blank page, I started to think about my job, my relationship and my friendships, all the things I could have lost but didn’t. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. 2020 may have sucked but I survived. Not only did I survive, I excelled in everything that was ignored in the years prior because of our busy day-to-day lives.
I learned meditation to call myself down. I reached out to people I hadn’t talked to in years, to reconnect and see how they were doing. I marched in the streets for Black Lives Matter and felt part of something so much bigger than me or my family. My conversations at work went from business to real conversation and love for the few people I still get to interact with throughout a pandemic.
If there is anything that we take away from 2020, it is how resilient we are, and because of that, change is possible. In a time of hopelessness we caused waves! People got together to volunteer for food drives, foster homeless animals and reach out for connection, not just conversation.
The first time I called my family and told them I wanted nothing for Christmas, 2020 has made me realize I have everything I could need, and I have the ability to change it if I don’t.