Letter to 2020

Quinn Riordan

Dear 2020, 

It was Dec. 31, 2019, and we all stood counting down the seconds towards a new year and a new decade. The new year always brings with it the promise of new joys, goals and a time for hopes and dreams. Yet, 2020 has not been the year for which many hoped and expected. 

Only three months into the new year, everyone’s lives were upturned and seemingly halted. Dreams and goals, for the most part, had to be put on hold; everything was different almost overnight. It was difficult and still is; life is not normal. Especially as high schoolers, nothing is the same. We left school on March 13 believing we would soon return, yet we did not. We had to adapt. To learn how to communicate over Zoom, change how we saw friends, how we interacted, how we lived. That was certainly not easy, and it can still be hard. I yearn for the times that were less stressful and hoped that we could have a “normal” high school experience, but that is not possible right now. 

The amount of loss the world is feeling right now is greater than ever before. Everyone has lost someone: a friend, family member, neighbor or just the sense of one’s prior self. We all must remember that and be kind to one another, yet we should not resort to cynicism.

2020 is not a year of helplessness and hopelessness. The year has seemed divisive and divided, with a rise of authoritarianism, hate and nationalism. Yet, this year is an inflection point for humankind. We can either remain stagnant and let life pass us by or take action. I have watched the world evolve and communities grow. Watched our nation choose to focus on democracy, freedom and promoting equality. Watched an outpouring of support from our neighbors to keep the local businesses running, people donated blood, volunteered and are reaching out to friends. 

Although it may not seem like we have a lot for which to be grateful, I believe that 2020 has taught us important lessons. 2020 certainly has taught me a lot.

It has taught me to value the smaller moments—to relish the simple joy of going outside and being around other people. The tasks I once would dread such as taking a bus to school or running errands now seem like a privilege. The value of life and all its grandiose existence, no matter how small or large, is something we cannot forget. 

It has taught me the importance of open-mindedness, acceptance and expressing gratitude. To remember that people are just people, with their own hopes and dreams, faults and fears. The value of community is one that I always will cherish. 

It has taught me how to be cautious and vigilant, and to care for those around me and myself. It has taught me how to be prepared and how to live in the moment.

2020 was filled with challenges for everyone. Yet, as the year comes to a close, I hope that we all go into 2021 having learned something. This year was one filled with self-reflection, growth and struggles. If we all take what we have learned into the following years, I hope that our world can be a little bit brighter. 

Your quarantining friend,