Lessons from 2020

December 31, 2020

2020 has been a challenging year, to say the least. The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc across the globe. Mask wearing became politicized because the president refused to support public safety measures and instead flagrantly disobeyed health guidelines and spread disinformation. Election week was full of stress. Though millions of Americans rejoiced in Biden's victory, Trump's false claims about a rigged election prolonged the anxieties that should have ended when Biden was declared winner. Racial injustices plagued the summer. White supremacy groups grew more vocal, as the president again refused to condemn their hateful rhetoric. Job losses and food insecurity skyrocketed. 329,000 Americans died from the coronavirus.

As with the end of any year, I believe it is important to reflect on the past twelve months and consider the ways in which you grew, the lessons you learned, and how you plan to carry those areas of growth lessons learned into the new year. In this post, I am sharing sharing some of the many lessons that I learned throughout this tumultuous year. I have gained so much more knowledge than can be detailed in a single blog post, so I am simply sharing the wisdoms that first jumped out to me and that range from rather heavy to seemingly superficial.

1. "It's Crazy How Fast Things Can Change"

Though a bit cliché, this is one of the most important lessons I am taking away from this year. As with millions of people all around the world, I never could have imagined back in January and February what the rest of the year would have in store for the world. The genuine lesson, though, lies not just in the reality that things can change quickly. Instead it is that because things can change so suddenly, it is so important to be present, to be grateful for what you have or are experiencing in the moment, and also just to "live a little." I know I am not the only one who could tell their past self to go out to the movie theater or eat at that restaurant or reunite with your friend or squeeze your family member just a little bit tighter because in a few months, you will really wish you had.

2. Silent Support vs Active Advocacy

With the terrible racial injustices that gripped the summer this year and exposed the systemic racism rooted in our country, I learned that there is a significant difference between being a silent supporter and an active advocate. Often, being a silent supporter means avoiding uncomfortable conversations and difficult situations. Being an active advocate, though, means speaking up, educating yourself and others, and having the courage to engage in those challenging discussions. Only by being an active advocate, though, can we actually achieve change. I hope to do my part by continuing to use my blog to bring attention to important issues.

3. Appreciate the Simple Joys

Blossoming daffodils. Honeysuckle flowers. The shining sun and blue skies. Crossword puzzles. Cooking Purple Carrot recipes. Roaring fires. These are just a few of the many simplicities that brought me joy this year. During the cold months of March and April, when I thought the weather would never warm up, taking notice of the small signs of spring helped me stay hopeful and get through the rainy, grey days to the warmth of summer. While the warmth and freedom of the summer eased some of the pandemic-related stresses, as the fall and winter months approached, I found myself more frequently continuing this practice of appreciating the small joys  whether by jotting them down in a journal or simply pausing to cherish a particular moment — and it helped put my own worries in perspective and get out of some of my "quarantine ruts."

4. Reading is Therapy

Though I have always believed in the therapeutic powers of reading, 2020 reaffirmed this belief. Reading was a way for me to both escape from the tragic and frightening realities of our pandemic-stricken globe and also to keep myself busy and entertained, especially during the lockdown in the springtime months of March, April, and May. Check out my recent post, Books I Read in 2020, to see all of the novels I read this year.

5. Self-care in Companionship

Whether on social media or in a magazine, you have likely heard people express how, despite the challenges of spending so much time at home this year, a positive aspect of being in quarantine was that it gave them time to practice self-care. One of the lessons I learned this year, though, is that spending time with others is the often the most healthy and rewarding form of self-care. Of course, this observation is a bit ironic since the pandemic forced so many of us to be distant from friends and family members. What I mean, though, is that being together with my immediate family — no matter if we were playing a game, watching a movie, cooking dinner, or simply sitting together in the living room — was most effective in combating those feelings of sadness that we all faced this difficult year. Humans are, as has been made clear over the past few months, social creatures, and so simply being together was so valuable and important since we felt so isolated from everyone else.

6. Dates to Look Forward to

I love to travel, and my mom does too. We find so much joy in planning trips, and of course even more joy in the traveling itself. During difficult weeks at school studying for exams or those dark winter months when the cold feels almost unbearable, the prospect of a future trip gave me an extra push to get through the tough days. With COVID limiting travel, I found it challenging to not have an event — whether it be a trip, a visit with a friend, or a night out to dinner — to look forward to. To curb this feeling of the days sort of slowly slipping by, toward the end of the year I began jotting down ideas for small, COVID-19 friendly activities to do that I could look forward to. From exploring the monuments in Washington DC to shopping for a Christmas tree, having small plans was really helpful in breaking the monotony of days spent at home while still staying safe.


  1. Brilliant post! 2020 has been a weird year, but it's been an eye-opening one none the less.