I think we can all agree that no one had it easy in 2020. If you think you know someone that did, I can guarantee that they were putting on a great show. We all had to adapt to our new way of life at a moment’s notice and for some of us, it affected more than us as individuals. Some of us have a spouse, children, pets, and other family members that were directly affected by last year’s events. People lost jobs, businesses, houses, and members of their families during this pandemic. And those of us that seemed stable still had our own mental health to worry about. Looking back on the year 2020, I’ve compiled a list of important aspects I’ve learned about.
1. Being in tune with your mental health is vital.
It takes time to get to know yourself and what your body and mind need from you. Sometimes the best thing you can do is slow down and write out how you’re feeling. The way to relax is different for everyone: you can go for a drive, listen to some music, find a new hobby, or just have a glass of wine. Not everyone can handle the world we’re living in right now in the same way and that’s ok. You just need to focus on what is best for you. Give yourself a break from thinking for a little bit, and have a good cry if you need it. We all deserve it.
2. Essential needs are not straightforward.
A lot of people would tell you that the only essential items are the ones that keep you alive. In 2020, some stores even blocked off the entire “General Merchandise” side of their store as well as certain aisles, deeming them “non-essential.” But who were they to make that choice for us? Just because a craft set or new toy for a kid isn’t a cookie-cutter “essential” item doesn’t mean that the person didn’t need to buy it.
Maybe it was their kid’s birthday and they were trying to find a way to make it special. Maybe this person was depressed and needed to start a new craft to find the light again. I’ll admit that I felt guilty shopping on the GM side of the store quite often. I was trying to entertain two small children stuck at home when we had been so used to being outside the house and with other people our entire lives.
3. Children really got the short end of the stick.
Did you know that some stores simply didn’t allow you to bring your children inside with you? For some of us, it was a serious problem as we had no other choice. Sure, a lot of stores offered grocery pickup, but those needed to be scheduled full days in advance, and emergencies do happen. Not all of us have the luxury of a two-parent home and leaving small children in the house alone just isn’t an option.
On top of that, a lot of hospitals would only allow one parent to accompany their child for an appointment. And if it was your appointment, you had to come alone. They recommended to hire a babysitter instead, but again, not everyone had that option due to finances. So many parents were forced to cancel appointments that were necessary for their health or the health of their children.
4. Books are a vital way of bringing people together.
I’ve always loved reading but struggled with finding new books without the help of others. So, in 2020, I decided to follow a book club that was started on Instagram, and it quickly turned into one of the highlights of my year. It was exciting to talk to other people with the same interests about a common topic. It was nice to have that group of people who were all part of the same fandom as me — they made the world feel a little less scary for a while.
Additionally, libraries fought to stay open and offered curbside pickup to give everyone a chance to keep reading. Cookbooks were a hit because more people were able to cook at home and maybe learn a new skill. Books offer us a chance to escape our reality for a while, forgetting our problems in favor of solving a mystery or exploring a budding romance.
5. Social media is actually pretty great.
There will always be people who hate on social media because of the drama or negative interactions that do happen. But without social media during a pandemic we would all have high phone bills from talking to our family. Instead, we were able to video chat, send pictures, inspire others, and stay in touch with people from all over the world — all without leaving the house. We were able to make new friends without putting anyone at risk, and kids were able to call their friends and see their faces. And that was all thanks to the internet and social media.
We’ve all learned a lot throughout 2020. That’s why it’s important to remember that everybody struggled during the pandemic, some more and some less. In 2021, I vote that we all strive to be a little kinder, whether to ourselves or others. Let’s remember that just because we can’t see the battle someone else is fighting doesn’t mean it’s not there. We’re all going through something so never negate the feelings and experiences of others.