Reflect. Recharge. Reset.

It’s a new year. Again. 2020 is in the past, hopefully taking its negative energy with it.

As we enter into a new year, tradition tells us we have to make a list of resolutions. This year, though, instead of coming up with a list of ways to change myself, I’d rather focus on ways to grow and learn from the past.

Objectively, 2020 was a bad year. So many awful things happened that were completely out of our control. I don’t know a single person who hasn’t been impacted by this whirlwind of a year. From COVID to civil and racial unrest to the election—and so much more that I don’t even have the time or space to write it all out—2020 opened the door to a massive divide among Americans when we should have been standing together.

This divide, this social stratification, left people feeling isolated and broken beyond repair, myself included. On New Year’s Day, I found it hard to look forward to a new year when the wounds of the last one are still fresh and unhealed.

As I sat in my living room with my boyfriend, the overwhelming sense of fear and loss set in, and I realized that 2020 made me afraid to look forward to anything. Rather than reflect on everything I’d accomplished in my personal life in 2020, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d missed out on so much for a whole year. We all had.

Then, my boyfriend reminded me that while 2020 was awful, we survived. We survived, and we learned so much about ourselves. So, rather than fixate on all the negativity that 2020 brought, I realized I wanted to take time to reflect on the ways I’ve grown and evolved and the lessons I’ve learned that will help make the years to come better.

In 2020, I was promoted from intern to social media strategist here at 1N5, and I’ve learned so much about taking care of my own mental health because of it. Every day, I get to be a part of an organization that works to promote mental health and prevent suicide. I get to work with an amazing team of women who support one another and encourage each other.

I also had the time to work on my relationships. I got closer to my family, even though we weren’t able to see each other as much. I realized that they’ll always be there for me, and I’ll always be there for them. I also got to spend more time with my boyfriend and improve our relationship. We’re coming up on 6 years, and oddly enough, this past year has been the best one yet. We worked on how to communicate and actually talk about what’s wrong, and we’ve both grown from it. The new push for communicating through technology also helped me build my relationships with old friends who live all across the country.

In May, I got my first puppy, and he’s become my best friend. He gives me a reason to get up in the morning, and he’s taught me responsibility and accountability in ways I didn’t even know I needed. I never would have even considered getting a dog at this point in my life if not for COVID.

I also learned to be self-sufficient. When I moved into my apartment in June, it was the first time I’d ever lived totally on my own. I had to learn how to do all the chores, pay all the bills, and maintain my mental and physical health by myself. I also had to learn how to budget, which helped me become less materialistic. I realized I didn’t need things to make me happy (and that I have way too much stuff already.)

Yes, 2020 stunk. At times it felt like the world was literally going to end. At the end of the day, though—or year I suppose—2020 taught us how to make the best of a bad situation. We had to grow and evolve just to survive, and I think many of us are better for it. Last year helped us, as a society, learn not to take anything for granted.

As we enter into this new year, let’s not forget the lessons the last one taught us.

And as always, stay healthy, stay safe.


Kayla W.