It’s always interesting when you come to the end of something. Whether it be an event, a friendship, an adventure, or a part of your life. 2020 has been the definition of “out with the old and in with the new” and not just because of COVID-19.
I was one of the poor souls that had to write my last year of highschool in the middle of a pandemic. Certainly not ideal and a little devastating. I lost a lot this year, but I suppose I gained a lot too.
It’s strange for me to think that I am no longer a school student. We spend so much of our formative years as students: going to school, wearing uniforms, sitting in classrooms. All of those little quirks we associate with school. Our friends are all “school friends”. The days are encased by school. All our major life events happen at or during school. It’s this constant in your life that sort of just disappears in one final swoop of a pen. One final exam and it’s all over.
Yes, I know I have varsity; I know it’s technically a school, but it’s different. The entire ordeal is different. The structure has changed; the feel has changed. It’s a whole other ball game – one I feel drastically ill-equipped to play. I’m not even sure I will ever be equipped to play it. But I suppose part of life is playing the game and figuring out the rules and regulations as you go. You just have to play it well, or at least try to.
So we leave everything we know to enter into a world that is familiar but uncomfortable, like scratchy clothing or old glasses. The perscription isn’t quite right. The world is a little blurry. But as I enter this new and blurry world, I get ready to stumble and fall and love. Isn’t that what it is all about?
The changes to my school year made the end worse in some ways, because I lost all the aspects of my matric year that would have given me closure to it all. No matric dance (prom for those confused), no final assembly, no matric lunch. They traded all of my school’s traditions and events to send us off in style for face masks and sanitizer. All gone in a blip. I’m not even surprised that this was how the year panned out. My grade is a guinea pig grade, or so the joke goes, so of course we would write matric in the middle of a pandemic. It was almost too fitting, but we made it work, or at least I did.
My brilliant mother gave me a matric dance far better than what I ever could have dreamed. There was a red carpet and everything. I got to choose who was there, so there was no awkward smiles exchanged. It was at the most beautiful home you could dream of – courtesy of family friends. It was a really lovely night and event. The night was far better than how the actual dance would have turned out.
My relationship with my siblings strengthened and evolved into something beautiful and powerful. It wouldn’t be the way it is today without the pandemic. Being in close proximity with them for months on end enabled us to engage and be a part of each other’s lives in a way that we never imagined. In some ways I am grateful for lockdown, although there were times of a deep want to enact strangulation, I learned to love them as people this year. Not just as my siblings.
I made new friends and found new loves. I got into podcasts, thanks to The Magnus Archives (an absolute must if you haven’t listened to it already). There was a resurgence in my love for nature and gardens. I continued to foster relationships that are deeply important to me and I made new connections.
However, on the other hand, I was stressed and struggling. I struggled with staying focused and keeping up my marks. I struggled with fatigue and managing anxiety. My stress management tactics went out the window and therefore, I didn’t mange my stress particularly well – my office was a testament to that. I often felt out of control and unsure of the decisions I was making. I struggled to find the balance.
It was a year of big decisions and lots of second guessing. Should I really apply for that degree? Is this really what is best for me? I spent most of my time thinking that every decision I was making was wrong. Unfortunately, I had little in person contact with people experiencing the same thing as me for months, and this made it all feel more intense and harder to deal with. I felt on my own. It’s a feeling many became familiar with this year.
What I’m trying to say was this year was both good and bad. Yes, the bad moments were intense and felt never ending. Perhaps there was more of them than previous years. But the most of the good moments were intense and felt never ending too.
This year has been a tragedy for so many. It has caused so much loss and pain; it has changed the very foundation of society, but there has been lots of good in this year too. People have developed greater appreciation for others and nature. The skies were a little bluer, the air a little cleaner because of decreased pollution. There is good and bad to every year. Sometimes there will be more good, sometimes there will be more bad. But every year will force us to adapt and grow.
The easiest way to do so is to follow “out with the old, in with the new” and try to find a little beauty in everyday. We cannot cling to the past or what we used to know. We cannot think old solutions will solve new problems. But most importantly, we should stop and smell the flowers every once in a while on the way. The journey should be just as beautiful as the destination.
I wish you all a beautiful new year and a chance to grow. I hope you find the light in all this chaos.