It was a cliché back in March: this year has been a garbage fire. We all know how tough it was and continues to be. My new year’s resolution is trying to focus on the silver linings. In spite of all the horrible things 2020 threw at us, a lot of people did what people do best: created good things anyway.
There’s a sense of unity, since we’ve all been going the same awful experience: apocalypse camaraderie. Except, of course, for the ones in denial who are being selfish, spreading conspiracy theories, and the virus. But never mind them.
There have been so many people reaching out to help their neighbours and working to change things politically in the hopes that our leaders will reflect the kindest among us instead of the most divisive and hateful. The extreme wildfires demonstrated the urgency of tackling climate change and the positive impact of lockdowns on nature has shown us hope. There are Facebook groups with the sole purpose of connecting people who need help with people who want to help. My social media feeds have been full of creativity: baking, artwork, silly videos.
I’ve noticed more people on social media being authentic, talking openly about their struggles, their mental health, and their secret weirdness, me included. I never thought I would get to a place where I’d be open about my stutter, never mind on social media! I love that there’s been this shift to being open about our flaws, our quirks, our authentic humanness, our wild true selves.
People are spending more time with their families, realizing just how important hugging is, learning new technology to keep socializing, and making sure to reach out to people they think might be struggling. We’re starting passion projects, new side businesses, changing careers, and judging companies by how compassionate they are to their employees.
This was a year of anger too. We’re talking about race in a big way (again) with the Black Lives Matter protests and about Indigenous rights in Canada. It’s heartening to see more people getting in tune with the struggles of others and speaking out against injustice. I know I’ve learned so much. I hope we can all keep that fire going and make some real change.
I’m trying to keep up the optimism, but I think it’s important to acknowledge how hard it’s been. I’ve been plenty grumpy and bored and furious and scared and anxious this year. So anxious, in fact, that I anthropomorphized my anxiety into weasel cartoons. The anxiety is still there but I’ve got a fun new hobby. Thanks, 2020.
As much as we want it to, 2021 won’t be demonstrably different. We still have a few months to go before most of us are vaccinated. There’s still time to curate that cute mask collection. Thankfully there is a light at the end of the tunnel. But if we want 2021 to be the year things actually get better, to get ourselves out of the darkest timeline, we have to work for it.
What I hope for this year is that we continue to lift each other up and fight injustice together. That we keep caring for our communities, taking the time to be creative, making sure everyone is included, being open and authentic, holding our politicians accountable, demanding better practice from corporations, and fighting for human rights and our planet.
And I hope we can give hugs again soon.
Take good care and stay safe!