Remember how excited we were at the beginning of 2020? It was the year that started off a new decade. It sounded so futuristic. It fit perfectly into so many irritating puns about “20/20 vision.” In the end, of course, it turned out none of us really had 20/20 vision. If we did, we would have realized the irony of our enthusiasm.
One year ago, I was celebrating 2020 along with the rest of the world. On December 31st, I sat watching thousands of people standing together, maskless, in Times Square, oblivious to the concepts of “social distancing,” “remote learning,” and even “pandemic.” I was convinced that the year was my opportunity to achieve everything I had been wanting to achieve…improving my grades, traveling abroad, and attending exclusive summer programs.
In reality, I could barely maintain my grades in virtual school, my travel plans were canceled, and my exclusive summer programs all became virtual shells of their former selves. Instead of gaining these opportunities, I lost most of my daily routine as well as, at certain points, my sanity.
Rather than moving towards the future, I found that 2020 kept me right where I had been in 2019. I still had school, even though it was virtual. I still had many of my extracurriculars, even though they changed formats. I still was as annoyed as ever by my mother when she forced me to watch “classic” (aka old) movies with her. 2020 didn’t change the fact that I’m a teenager. It only changed what it looked like to be a teenager.
Looking back at the last year, I have recognized the insanity of the significance we place on certain markers of time. We make ourselves believe that the beginning of each calendar year is some sort of defining moment in our lives. I think we rely too heavily on change in years to bring about changes in our lives.
On December 31st, 2020, I celebrated the way I celebrate every new year. I watched the ball drop in Times Square while holding a twenty-dollar bill–a strange family tradition that my mother always says will give us fortune in the new year. But this time, I didn’t feel the moment was as ceremonious as it used to be. I realized that 2021 is just a label of time, not a marker of it. I decided that from now on, I’ll be relying on myself in order to achieve the things I want to achieve in this new year.