So 2020 Happened: A New Year’s Reflection

Well that year was a bit of a train wreck, wasn’t it?

I know, 2020 was supposed to be our big year. New Year’s Eve of 2019, we were telling ourselves about all the great things we would have accomplished by this time the next year round. We were talking about how ‘aesthetically pleasing’ the number 2020 looks written out. It was the turn of the decade, and we were hopeful. Some might say, naively so. 

Of course, we all know about the big bad virus. For me and for many other people, a lot went downhill from there. I’d say it wasn’t that everything was going badly; it was that I had trouble remembering the good. The school year came and progressed, and I felt significantly bogged down by things out of my control. I like feeling in control. I like knowing where I’m going and how I’m going to get there. But wherever I sought advice, it was often about how I can’t control it all, and that made me feel really horrible and helpless. 

I think a small subsection of people expected everything messed up in the world to right itself when 2021 came around, as if 2020 was a ‘cursed year’ and of course things would be restored to normal after the ‘cursed year’ has passed, but sadly it isn’t like that. I think I gave up on expecting anything good from the new year. 

But is expecting nothing such a bad thing?

I sought advice from my mentor Ms Lechner before the break, and I didn’t fully process it until now. She told me not to have any expectations at all, because without expectations, every little thing comes as a happy surprise. 

Sometimes I do feel horrible and helpless, but maybe instead of forcing myself to look at the glass half full, I could get rid of the glass all together and just live. Without the expectation that there’s a glass at all, how much happier and more grateful would we be to find one filled with water sitting right on the counter for us? And if there isn’t one there when we check the counter, then oh well, because we weren’t looking for one anyway. 

And what about hope? Is it irrelevant now? Do we just throw hope out the window right along with our expectations? No. Hope fuels dreams and aspirations and makes space for unmade memories. It’s what gets us up in the morning and what helps us fall asleep at night. I don’t think it should be used as some crutch of security and comfort, but in all other cases, hope is vital to progressing in life. 

Looking back, 2020 was the worst year that I’ve ever lived through, but I wonder how I’d see it if I went in wanting and expecting nothing. We can’t know for sure, but I hope in that alternate universe, I’m at least a little bit happier. And even if it was the worst year ever and we did hit rock bottom, then all the better because you know what they say: when you hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up.

Elyza Tuan ‘23, Clubs & Classes Editor