It’s safe to assume that 2020 has not been the year that anybody had planned.
No holidays. No weddings. At times, no leaving the house. People have lost jobs, homes and, at worst, loved ones to a silent and invisible killer. One that just a few short months ago, no one could have imagined.
Over the endless stretch of days into weeks into months spent at home, many of us have, I’m sure, declared 2020 as a write-off. The year we won’t count. The one we will try to forget. A chance to hibernate until we are ready to start over come January, pretending like it never happened.
But no matter how hard we try to erase it, 2020 is a year that will stay firmly etched in our memories long after the midnight streamers of December 31 fade. And so it should.
Yes, it has been full of worry and uncertainty. But it has also undeniably brought with it a host of lessons and truths that many of us so desperately needed to hear, and new perspectives that have the potential to last a lifetime.
Coronavirus has ground us all to a halt, offering a mirror to reflect on what is truly important. It’s been a very real reminder that, when all is said and done, nothing is more valuable than our health and that of our families.
It has forced us to re-evaluate the people we look up to most in society, shifting our focus to praise those who over the past few months have risked their lives to keep us all fed and cared for, rather than those who fill our social media feeds.
Front line workers are gracing the covers of international fashion magazines, real estate formerly reserved for supermodels or the rich and famous. The impossible beauty standards these publications previously championed are instead being replaced with the beauty in every day.
The coronavirus slowdown has also provided a captive audience for the Black Lives Matter movement sweeping the US and the world. These extraordinary circumstances have allowed for vital voices to come through and be heard, loud and clear, taking away any chance for people to feign ignorance.
The time that people might usually spend meeting with friends, travelling or playing sport has been used by many to reflect, to educate themselves, to listen. It's to truly understand something that until now, knowingly or not, many have turned a blind eye to. Individuals, big name brands and even governments have pledged to be better. It’s a conversation that, finally, everyone is taking part in.
So yes, 2020 might not be the year we all had planned. But those plans will have their time, and when they do, will be all the more sweet for it. Instead of writing this year off, we should be writing this year down. Documenting it, learning from it, recognising the unique opportunity it has handed us all to grow together and change the course.
While normal might be what we are craving, it’s hard to imagine normal ever being the same again. But if the new normal comes with little more understanding, empathy, and appreciation, then perhaps this is the year we’ve all been waiting for.