2020 has long overstayed its welcome, but the symbolic end is finally here. Although Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations are at an all-time high, news of an official vaccine approval came just in time for the holidays.
I know I am not alone when I say this year has been personally difficult, exacerbated by the political climate and mandatory social distancing. March of 2020 seems like yesterday but also a century ago. Since then, I have been fortunate enough to spend more time with my immediate family in my hometown- time that only existed because the pandemic sent me home from college.
I’ve also had more time to develop hobbies, both new and old. I’ve been playing guitar since I was six, but I admittedly used to practice a lot more. Quarantine has given me that time, as well as the alone time to sing along without fear of embarrassment. I skateboarded in my unfinished basement, made it halfway through a very detailed coloring book, and experimented with baking. As for new hobbies, I bought a vintage film camera on eBay in the spring and started water-coloring with my roommate. I’ve also continued to take pictures with FUJI disposable cameras, which I’ve been doing for the past couple years (@michaela.film on Instagram).
In addition to time for family and self-improvement, I’ve most importantly spent time learning. In June and July I immersed myself in anything I could find about the Black Lives Matter Movement- books, documentaries, podcasts, etc. I reflected on how I could become a better ally; at first that felt like sharing informative posts on social media and evolved into taking a step back and amplifying Black voices around me. In November, I attended my first protest for justice for Walter Wallace, a Black man shot by police not far from where I live.
Reflecting on 2020, it’s hard to fathom that so much change happened in one year. Suddenly everything became virtual- the end of my co-op at CHOP, my spring and summer classes, my current co-op at CSL Behring, etc. Nine months of wearing masks would have seemed outlandish one year ago, yet here we are. I adopted my cat in February, never anticipating that we would spend the next ten months indoors together.
Although I never predicted Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas would be just me and my parents, I am grateful for the time we had to create new traditions. I am also grateful for the alone time I have had this year. Being an only child, I’ve always been comfortable being by myself (my mom always taught me to be my own best friend since she knew I would spend a lot more time alone than a typical kid). Yet, the past few years I have found myself reluctant to be alone.. maybe because society (and social media) make me feel like I should constantly be socializing, maybe because my thoughts take over when my mind is idle. However, after this year, I am not only comfortable being alone, but I actually enjoy it.
Finally, I want to acknowledge how fortunate I am- in more ways than one. I was **relatively** unharmed my Covid-19. My family is safe, although I have not seen many relatives since last Christmas. I have a great co-op, a roommate who is now my best friend, a happy relationship, and a loving family. However, this is not the case for many people. The holidays are already a tough time for many, especially those struggling mentally, those suffering financially, and those with strained family relationships. I have provided some links below and encourage anyone who is able to match my donation of $20 to any of the organizations below.
- The Sentencing Project– “The Sentencing Project works for a fair and effective U.S. criminal justice system by producing groundbreaking research to promote reforms in sentencing policy, address unjust racial disparities and practices, and to advocate for alternatives to incarceration.”
- National Alliance on Mental Illness– “Strives to change the way people view mental illness and to get rid of the stigma associated with it through education, advocacy, listening to the public, and leadership. NAMI also offers educational programs to a wide range of communities to make sure that families, individuals, and educators get the support and information they need.”
- World Central Kitchen– “Food has become a central issue during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many unable to access regular meals and millions of restaurant workers laid off or furloughed due to ongoing constraints to stop the spread of the virus. To help both sides of the equation, Chef José Andrés’ charity has partnered with more than 2,400 restaurants in 400 cities across the nation to provide jobs for restaurant staff creating and distributing meals for those in need.”