reflections on 2020

   I’ve avoided writing this piece for weeks.   

   Because I have no idea where to start. 

   I took upon the task of writing this article, reasoning that the nature of the last year warrants some reflection, some thought, some overlying message that we can all walk away with. 

   But, while outlining this article, I found that I would be parroting the same headlines that have filled our news feeds for the last few months. 

   We all know what has happened this year.

   I know I’m hardly qualified to talk about hardship or struggle. I am fortunate that my family can safely stay at home, without having to worry about our next meal or our financial stability. 

   Millions of people across our nation go through those struggles. 

   It feels extremely tasteless for me to indulge in introspection whilst thousands of lives are being lost everyday. 

   Yet, I can’t deny the weird, existential nature of this year. How tragedy added upon tragedy. How incredibly fragile everything feels. 

   This year has served as an eyeopener to how our world really works. And, if I’m being honest, I’m feeling more angry, sad, and scared than anything else. 

   I’m angry seeing the maskless protestors going against coronavirus restrictions, screaming “dictatorship” while my little sister, immunocompromised, cries at home, shaking, afraid to go outside lest she catch the virus. 

   I’m angry at people who say that this is all a hoax, while a close family friend, who is a nurse, recounts her days at the hospital, where patients are dying and healthcare professionals are running low on PPE. I’m angry because this pandemic has and will continue to harm so many people indirectly due to the existing flaws in the system, yet so many others refuse to take it seriously. 

   I’m sad because I see that this world is full of people who go out of their way to be unkind to others. 

   And I’m scared because this year has truly realized many of Gen Z’s worst existential fears. 

   When we were younger, climate change was something taught to us in our elementary science classes. We knew it was happening, but it felt far away. Distant, slow, something that we were sure our leaders and elders acknowledged and would work to stop. That if we listened to our books and teachers and remembered to recycle and reduce waste, everything would be alright. 

   But, with time comes understanding. And change. Now, the climate crisis rages on amidst the global pandemic, and its effects are appearing in more horrifying ways everyday. 

   I know I can’t be the only one who, during that month of relentless forest fires, felt intense panic and fear watching the billowing clouds of smoke, having not seen the sun for what felt like weeks.  

   Racism and police brutality have taken so many innocent lives. Yet, too many question if this is even a problem, and too many more horrifically try to justify what has happened.  

   Politically, this year has been tumultuous, to say the least. It feels everyday something new happens, topping whatever event transpired the day before. 

   Amongst all this, I along with my fellow peers in the class of 2021 are currently in the midst of applying to colleges. It’s harrowing taking these next steps building towards your future – something you have prepared for your entire high school career – in the midst of uncertainty. 

   Of course, I recognize that these problems are vast and deeply entrenched within our society. Realizing this can be overwhelming, and it may make our normal day-to-day lives feel… redundant. 

   I’m sorry if I sound all doom and gloom. To be honest, I’m not really sure what point I’m trying to get at right now. I hope I’m not being an echo-chamber for your fears. Rather, I guess this is just my way of reaching out, and hopefully recognizing your feelings. 

   One thing that 2020 brought that I hope will never change is normalizing self-care and discussion of mental health. If you are feeling overwhelmed, this is my message to you to take care of yourself. Drink water, eat something, and take a few breaths. Reach out to someone if you feel isolated. Chances are they are feeling the same way. 

   Never forget that you are the only you this world has, and it is people like you that make this world a brighter place. 

   The last few months have been rife with chaos and stressful events. This warrants necessary change – long-overdue change that we will have to prepare to fight for. 

   With 2021 fast approaching, and only a few weeks left in the year of unpredictable, may we enter the new year with new understanding and more kindness. 

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