Happy New Year! After being just a couple days into 2021, a new year mindset has certainly been helping to keep spirits up. As we begin to set foot into this new year and new mindset, it is so important to look back on the lessons learned in 2020.
2020 for most of us was certainly one of the most difficult years we’ve had to face. It easily felt like the longest year ever, and like any year, so many memories were made. For me, the year started off like a dream. At the time, I had a large and stable friend group, I loved my college experience, and I was able to do a lot of work with what I loved, including this blog. As the year kept going, we made it to Spring Break, which became an all-time highlight. I flew out to the west coast for the first time in nearly a decade and had a blast. I got to visit Disneyland, Universal Hollywood, Hell’s Kitchen, Red Rock Canyon, and the Griffith Observatory and try some new and incredible things. While I was there, I celebrated two years of Pink Days and had one of my photos reposted by Universal Orlando Resort (a total dream of mine).
As my trip progressed however, so did the news about the novel coronavirus. When I left New York, most of my campus didn’t see it as anything too serious, mostly joking that I should “try not to get sick” before I come back. By the end of my trip, my family was questioning whether or not we would be able to fly home and my college had shut down for two weeks. We were thankfully able to visit Universal Hollywood on its last day of operation to day and fly home safely on LAX’s last full day of operation before the lockdowns started. I began online school that Monday, and midway through the day, my school announced that it would be closed for the rest of the semester- a heartbreaking email for someone who had finally found a sense of belonging at college.
Over the next few months, I trudged through the rest of the spring semester. My professors did the best they could at adapting to an all-online environment at the last minute, but things still weren’t the same as being on campus. The fall semester was an improvement over the spring semester since I was able to have some social interaction and a little bit of on-campus time, but it still wasn’t the same as being able to learn in a real classroom and go to real club meetings and events.
Some good was able to come out of a virtual academic and work sphere. I got my first jobs “on campus,” working as a peer mentor and a peer tutor. I also got my first internship which focused on social media and video editing for my school’s career development office, which gave way to a new position that I will be continuing in the spring. Later in the year, I was even recruited to work as a communications assistant for the fine and performing arts segment of the school. All of these positions gave me the opportunity to learn more about my line of work and do what I loved.
In terms of personal work, I was also able to grow quite a bit. My Instagram page hit 2,000 followers, my blog reached 100 email subscribers, and my YouTube channel also reached 100 subscribers- all goals I had been working on since I started my page. I was able to design my own fully customized website for my blog (which you’re likely on right now), and rebrand all of my pages for an experience that’s uniquely me. I was also given some incredible collaboration opportunities with businesses like Fintastic Configuration, BoxLunch, treStiQue, and Kirstle’s Krafts, and the ability to meet a ton of incredible people in the content creation community.
While I was able to find quite a bit of light on the professional side of my life, my personal side still had considerable shadows. Not being on campus caused me to drift away from many of the casual friends I had and I ended up growing apart from a few people I thought might be lifelong friends. Especially during the end of the spring, I felt really lonely and detached from the life I had known. After all, I essentially went from my dream life to the complete opposite in just a matter of days.
Much like my professional life, I found quite a bit of light in my personal life. The friendships I did maintain were built stronger and even redefined. All of my relationships felt a lot more meaningful and purposeful, and I felt a lot more fulfilled in my interactions with others. I was even able to branch out from my known circle and make friends with some of my friend’s friends. It may not have been what I expected, but I was able to find new joy and strength in my relationships with others.
Right now, life isn’t rainbows and unicorns but it’s also not a totally grim sky. I’ve had some social interaction, mostly through Caleb and his hometown friends, as well as Jamie through FaceTime. As we enter the new year, not much is going to change to start. I’ll be restarting my campus jobs before the full semester starts, as well as working on new content for Pink Days Blog and Terrifically Toni. The spring semester, while I’m still waiting for my school to announce the full plans, will essentially follow the same guidelines as the fall semester.
Many like to make resolutions for the new year, but for 2021, I don’t have many specific goals that come to mind. 2020 pushed me to my limits and while it was difficult at times, it forced me to make choices and changes that allowed me to become the person I fully am inside. The way I view myself and the world around me has shifted, but without a doubt, it’s for the better. 2020 was painful, but it was also full of necessary changes that allowed me to grow in ways unimaginable.
When it comes to 2021, I want to continue the growth that 2020 had begin to chart the journey for. I want to continue to make and develop meaningful friendships, relationships, and connections in my personal life. I want to continue to discover who I am and what my calling is. I want to continue to learn and refine what I love to do. I want to continue to grow more and more confident and unafraid of what life has in store for me.
If 2020 has taught anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. When I sat down to write last year’s new year reflection, I never could have imagined half of what the past year brought me. Struggles will come, but so will success, much like how light and shadows are interdependent. 2021 is starting with so many questions already- they’ll all be answered in due time. I’m starting the new year with a strong support system, a desire to learn, a flexibility to grow, and the courage to face the unexpected. I hope that as I sit down a year from now to write another yearly reflection, I can speak of new stories and successes with a thankful lens, just as I am now.
Come what may, but I’m ready to face 2021.