2020: A Terrible Joke or Blessing in Disguise?

Samantha Jones, Reporter

As the year comes to close, this is the time to reflect on the events that have occurred. The year 2020, to put it in simple terms, was complicated, exhausting, and surreal on many levels. It always seemed that week after week, there was more bad news constantly being delivered to us – death of Kobe Bryant, Chadwick Boseman, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Alex Tribec; murder hornets, Australian and California wildfires, numerous hurricanes and fake news about election fraud, and, of course, Coronavirus. Yes, it was an unprecedent year.  While the bad news was unrelenting, before we close the book on 2020, we should sit and ponder what we learned about ourselves as a society and personally.  


This year has come with its hardships, but with trials and tribulations comes acceptance and learning about oneself, whether it is strengths or weaknesses. New experiences help people evolve and discover who they are – the good, the bad, and ugly. I interviewed several people, asking them “What have they learned about themselves in the year 2020?” My best friend, Olivia, a senior at UHS, replied “I have learned to be more confident in myself and my actions and to forgive myself more because I’m not perfect. On a personal note, 2020 has provided me the opportunity to explore the idea that I am not perfect and that I cannot do everything perfectly. 


Married couple and parents of two UHS students reflected on the question and the husband Mr. Gustafson responded with “What I’ve learned about myself this year is how much I’ve enjoyed spending time with my family. Before the pandemic, my job would consume so many hours of the day and what was left was usually spent doing projects or working on something that needed my attention….So, what I’ve learned this year is to stop being so busy and immerse myself in the lives of my family.” Being forced to quarantine has provided people the opportunity to make up for lost time and enjoy quality family time. This time is used to reacquaint themselves with their family by having personal talks and participating in family oriented activities. Since being in quarantine, I have been able to hangout with my younger brother, Elijah by playing Minecraft on Xbox. We also enjoy participating in a competitive family game of Uno.


Quarantine provided an opportunity for people to explore new interests that they could never participate in before because there was not enough time in the day. From macrame to learning a foreign language to meditation to bread making, there are so many new activities to try during your free time. Ms. Gustafson answered “I learned that I am a competitive reader!” Exposing yourself to new activities can provide you with a new outlet; outlets can help you destress and can be a comfort.


 I asked the question to several people in the educational field and surprisiely the answers were not all about online learning. Ms. Leslie Young, AP Social Studies Teacher, responded “I think the pandemic has taught me to not take things for granted. To be grateful for the little freedoms like seeing my family.” This pandemic has caused a majority of people to feel vulnerable to the forces of nature. People are appreciative of the daily, little blessings. Personally, I have started to reflect more on what I have such as a loving family, supportive friends, and a roof over my head and food on the table. 


Renetta Herndon-Cintron, Foreign Language Teacher and mother of a high schooler, replied “ I have learned that I am okay not knowing all the answers or being the best [teacher, mother, sister]. I’ve learned that I am enough.” The circumstances we are in have permitted people to reflect and take into consideration that quarantine has provided them the time to look inside themselves and evaluate how they think about themselves, whether positively or negatively. We make errors and we are vulnerable. We cannot always live up to the expectations that are put on ourselves, either by us or others.


Coronavirus has cancelled a multitude of events this year from graduations, weddings, funerals, and most importantly, in-person schooling. Even though this has happened, it doesn’t mean that everything being cancelled was a bad thing. Gemone Johnson, Technology teacher, wife, and mother of two young girls said,  “I had to relearn how to be still. My calendar is usually jammed packed with events. Covid cancelled everything. At first, I hated having to slow down. But, now I savor the quiet moments.” Quarantine has given people the time to slow down and practice a little self-care. Self care is crucial because it can  de-stress you physically, mentally, and emotionally. I take part in self care by taking a relaxing bath or taking a long walk with my dog. Other forms of self care are reading , listening to music, taking a nap, watching a favorite tv show or movie, or simply exercising. 


With all the time people had on their hands, I believe that most people spent some of it being  active on a social media platform. I know I was! Whether it was YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, or etc. While social media is a wonderful and convenient way to communicate with people and explore topics online, there is also a dark side to social media. Amy Prezelski, Physical Education teacher, certified yoga instructor, wife, and mother of two adult girls, stated “I learned how easy it is to fall into the rabbit holes of social media- and how bad it makes me feel.” Social media can have a negative effect on our self confidence because you are being displayed photos and videos can be altered, photoshopped, and staged to look perfect, but perfection is not achievable. This can make people feel insecure about themselves. It is important to set a limit for how long you are going to be on a social media app. 


Lastly, the year of 2020 has empowered people to persist through adversity. This year has been nothing less than chaotic. While facing everything that has gone on during this year, it is important to know that we are strong and we can face anything. Dr. Shari Berga, DEI Practitioner  replied “2020 taught me that amidst adversity, I can still thrive. That even during a pandemic, I can still find things for which to be grateful.” 


Trials and tribulations is a normal part of life, it is something that every person has to go through. My family experienced a family member passing and that was a very difficult time for us. 2020 may have been rocky and tough, and felt like a never-ending roller coaster ride, but the ride is about to end. In the end, I believe that each of us has gained a new sense of self that is stronger, more resilient, socially conscious, and humble that we can take into the new year.