Wishes for a Happy 2021

2020 has objectively been one of the strangest and most difficult years of our lives. From the threat of World War III to the devastating fires in Australia to the impeachment of President Trump, life on Earth has been extraordinary—and that was all before COVID-19 hit the United States in March. These past 12 months have shown us pain, fear, and devastation in ways we all likely never could have imagined. But in forcing us through these challenging times, we have learned more about ourselves and the world around us than ever before.

Due to 2020, we have witnessed the gross economic inequality that exists in this country. We have observed the racial injustice that systemically lives in virtually every part of our society. We have experienced first-hand just how stigmatized mental health is in the United States. And we have begun meaningful change to address these issues, with more work to go. And while 2020 has dropped surprises, shaken us up, and made us bubble over in frustration like a bad mentos and coke experiment, it has also taught us important lessons that we will carry over into 2021.

A highlight of 2020: Champlain welcomed our new president, Dr. Benjamin Ola. Akande, to campus.

Take work-life balance for example. Many of our jobs have moved virtual this year, and as a result, we have spent hours each day on our computers. For myself, this meant feeling like I had to respond to emails or make small adjustments to projects while off-hours because I was online. Whereas before, I could confidently put down an assignment when I left the office. Now I found myself pulled toward my Google Drive or Gmail inbox during my free time because I felt almost…guilty. I was on my computer anyways, and my supervisors knew this because they were too, so I have to respond, right? 

Or what about figuring out how working from home even works? When I started working from home after the semester ended in May, I found myself struggling to create boundaries and routines in my daily life. When I was physically going to work, I could leave the dirty laundry on my floor for when I got home. But that laundry started calling my name when it was staring at me while I tried to get past my writer’s block that I’d been struggling with for a week. Creating a routine was difficult for me and took a lot of focus. But as we near the end of 2020, I can confidently say I’m entering 2021 with better work habits. I’ve learned the importance of scheduling breaks, establishing boundaries with those around me, and sticking to a routine. That being said, I can’t wait to get back to seeing my coworkers and friends again.

Speaking of friends, if there is one thing 2020 has taught me, it is how to maintain relationships in a virtual world. I’m a very face-to-face person and many of my friends and family are too, so if we don’t physically interact with someone, we forget that they aren’t updated on our lives. This year has definitely strained some of my relationships, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it strengthened many others. We are lucky to live in an age where the people we love are just a phone call away. You’d think growing up with technology that I’d remember that, but, hey, we all have our faults. 2020 has taught me that reaching out is sometimes the best thing you can do to stay connected. You don’t have to spend hours on the phone with everyone in your life, but a quick text or swiping up on someone’s story can do wonders for your mental health and the mental health of your friends and family. Because ultimately, in times like 2020, we all just want to feel a little less alone. 

Champlain professor Dr. Narine Hall launched InSpace, a virtual education platform, in October of this year to combat the gaps in existing online education.

Now I’d be remiss if I said these lessons were easy to learn. They were incredibly difficult, and I was privileged enough to have a strong support system that helped me work through them. I know that isn’t the case for everyone. This year has been the absolute worst for some. There have been so many things we have missed celebrating, memorializing, and mourning together: weddings, birthdays, graduations, family deaths, family births—the list goes on. So while acknowledging these losses, I’d also like to list all the things I’m excited for in 2021.

Read to the tune of “My Favorite Things” by Julie Andrews:

Hugging my grandma and seeing stranger’s faces.

Driving with friends to explore brand new places. 

Enjoying birthday parties and graduation. 

These are some things I hope for 21.

Eating at restaurants and Christmas with cousins

Bagels on church street, please make that a dozen

Basking on beaches and sand frisbee fun

These are some things I hope for 21.

Going to concerts and flying on airplanes

Going back to Europe, oh boy do I miss Spain

Venturing on road trips and 5K fun runs

These are some things I hope for 21.

When the vaccine comes

When masks are gone

When COVID is done

I’ll do all these things I am wishing to do

In a hopefully better 2021.

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