What a year you’ve been! It seems yesterday was your first day in our lives, but a lot happened, a lot changed.
You have brought with you a completely different reality, the entire world changed under your sight. There are a lot of things that I want to scream at you, a lot of blame I think you deserve. But yet, I have not come to do this in this letter. Yes, most people hate you, and many, like myself, wish you had never come, but that is not what I want to write about.
You are leaving in a couple of days, which delights me, and I will stay behind, trying to deal with the reality that you have left me with.
At first, your new world scared me, and every day felt like a walking nightmare. I thought that my life was kidnapped by an invincible force. Now I have come to terms with it, and while I can’t say that I love being here, I don’t really mind it.
The ‘emergency’ became normal. People started to realize how we take handshakes for granted and how warm a hug could be. Yes, there are fewer hugs and kisses, fewer concerts and parties, but there is a much greater sense of community and awareness. There are more “ Do you fancy a walk?” or “ Did you get your mask?”, new words like “ social distance”, “quarantine”, “self-isolation”, “hand sanitizer”, “symptoms” and “pandemic”. Words that if you have told me one year ago, I would have thought that I was reading a dystopian book. And now, I’m the writer.
I’ve learned a lot during this year… what 1.5 meters actually look like, how to enjoy a simple walk in the park and that, even if we are all far away, there are so many ways to stay connected. Most importantly, I’ve learnt how to live every single minute with 60 incredible seconds.
And even if we can not see each other’s smiles anymore, our eyes will never stop shining.
So after all the emotions, dear 2020, I wish you safe travels to wherever it is you go now, and that we shall never meet again.
you are almost over, which leads me to this little reflection- what did you teach me? Here is my little rewind.
In January I had a drunk bike accident where I broke my collar bone, but I learnt that strangers (who picked me up from the sidewalk, made sure I was ok and called me a taxi) are kind. In February, I had finally recovered from my knee surgery, and I was able to run my first 5 kilometre race after over a year, teaching me appreciation for my body. In March I discovered that I enjoy weightlifting, and I got a gym membership. Then Covid happened, the first wave of which I spent on a farm in South America, with my parents and my sister. The hours I spent harvesting fruits and doing yoga, taught me patience. Lockdown also tested the strength of my boyfriends and my love, as we were separated for almost 3 months- we overcame it. Then June, and suddenly I was back in the Netherlands, and for the first time in my life, I was living by myself. Let me tell you, being alone and comfortable with it, is something that needs to be mastered, and I am still working on it day by day. In July, I volunteered in a summer camp for kids, a very rewarding experience, which made me realise I want to go into the outdoor industry, rather than keep studying after UCG. July made my dad very sick, then September gave my grandma cancer, but both of them are fighters, and they survived. Nonetheless, I was confronted with the reality of death, which in turn makes me appreciate life more.
I wasn’t going to let a little pandemic ruin my fun, so I looked for things to replace the social life and activities I would usually partake in. Thus this year birthed my love for stick and poking, and helped me rediscover chess. Furthermore, I encountered the odd joy of winter swimming, really makes you feel alive. Most importantly, 2020 is this year when I really started climbing, which gives me immense joy, and is one of the few social sports one could do despite corona. Throughout this year I welcomed new friends into my life and saw others leave, which taught me that nothing is forever, but rather that everything is constantly evolving and changing.
2020 you have taught me a lot, you have tested me, time and time again, through this you have helped me grow. And while I might still be a lazy piece of shit, I can feel myself always growing, always loving. Yes, I know I am privileged, and I didn’t suffer nearly as much as others did, which we should always recognise, even when we aren’t living in a pandemic. Nonetheless, I had my struggle, and I thank you 2020, for you have helped become the warrior I am.
Verdict? Crazy ride.
Would I do it again? Yes.
This year we got to live history. Not the cool type where we settled on a new planet or got jetpacks but history nonetheless. Someday in the future, our children will ask us how it was to live through lockdowns and quarantines, social distancing and face masks.
And despite the horrible sound of all this, more often than not I think we’ll tell them: “Eh, we kinda just made it through, you know, you get used to it.”
At the beginning of the year, the prospect of not being able to see people, of not being able to go out and do things with your friends without feeling like you are doing something wrong seemed close like the end of the world. Yet, as time went on we all got used to this new reality. We accepted masks into our daily lives and got used to having to wait in line at the supermarket.
The old crazy had become the new normal. What shook us to the core in the beginning we shrug off like it's nothing today.
This ability to adapt to whatever life throws at us never ceases to amaze me. Thrust into an uncertain future and a crisis that does not have a best before date, we did what we do best and kinda just dealt with it.
Sure all this sucks but what can we do about it? And so we went from partying and meeting in big groups to cooking together and meeting in small groups.
We helped each other through these trying times and realized that being able to depend on others became more important than ever.
Personally, I have grown to appreciate meeting people in person much more and in turn, have also grown to appreciate the people I meet more, something they all really deserve because they are lovely people. It’s like that old saying goes: “You never know what you had until it’s gone”. Now luckily for us, it’s not entirely gone but you catch my drift.
This feeling of appreciation was really driven home for me when I literally drove home for Christmas and had to rearrange my entire room because we got new floorboards. As usual, when cleaning up, I spent more time looking at the things I found than cleaning and so I spent a lot of time looking at old pictures from my childhood. Many of the things caught on these pictures I do not have the faintest memory of and yet when they were taken, everything and everyone in these pictures shaped my world and my life, which means that everyone and everything there led to me becoming who I am today.
This struck me. Of course, this is happening right now too, with all the people I know and interact with these days. Unfortunately, I will not have cute picture albums, which is a shame, but the impact that these people have is there nonetheless.
Think back for yourself or look at pictures if you can’t remember anything like me. Think of all the people that used to surround you and how they shaped you. Think of all the people that surround you now and how they shape you. If you are lucky, which I sincerely hope, these people are there for you these days when life is not as peachy as it used to be.
In life, I believe, our friends are one of the most valuable things. They are the people that fill our head with crazy ideas and hopes for the future. They are there for you just as much as you are there for them. They are the people you do weird and funny and stupid shit with. The ones that help you carry life’s sorrows and share with you life’s delights. The ones that make all these crazy covid times bearable and fun even.
This year we got to live history. Not the boring type where we settled on a new planet or got jetpacks. This year 2020 we got to see people move closer together, form deeper bonds with those around them, superbly deal with the worst crisis many of us have ever faced and ultimately learned that whatever life throws our way we can overcome together.