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Young Voices: New Year, New Me

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New Year New Me

"2020 will be my year!" As is the annual tradition, my family exclaimed this with great confidence in late December. We made our New Year's resolutions. We read the "New year new me!" posts on Instagram.

Many recounted the dreadfulness of 2019 and rejoiced in the great relief of the turning of the decade. The allure of a new year lay in the promise of bright and unlimited possibilities - a chance to kiss your old-year self goodbye. It represented something exciting: a whole other 365 days to see what this dear old world throws our way.

2020 Is Beyond The Scope Of Our Imagination

The beginning of the year offset the domino effect of chaos and catastrophe. As Americans, we thought we were untouchable. A virus all the way across the world couldn’t possibly reach us. First case of Corona in the U.S. It's okay.

They will quarantine and recover and everything will be fine. The death of Kobe and Gigi Bryant. Covid-19 is officially declared a public health emergency in the USA. Australian Wildfires continue fuming. After that, as everyone well knows, the year spiraled in a rapid blur.

A mass shooting that kills five people in Milwaukee. A nationwide lock down. Schools and businesses close their doors to the public while the rest of the world seals themselves in their homes. Quarantine. Proms and graduations canceled. Weddings postponed. George Floyd is killed by police. Protests. More protests and riots. Shootings in New York, Atlanta, Chicago and South Carolina. Chadwick Boseman dies of cancer. California wildfires and the death of RGB.

Navigating The Uncertainty That 2020 Brings

And these are just a few of the unsettling events that have led us to feel anxious and even afraid as we peer into an uncertain future. The year continues to unravel like a mystery. It seems as though some tragedy - whether an environmental catastrophe or the death of someone beloved - has become a regular part of each new month of 2020. But pandemics, environmental catastrophes and deaths do not make us immune to the rest of life.

I've witnessed personal hardships, for both my family and others, more frequently than ever before since the start of 2020. A cancer diagnosis of our step-dad this summer has left us navigating the heavy burden of the news and doing our best to remain positive. Despite unconditional support and help from family and friends, it’s been quite challenging for both him and our family. Even in a pandemic, there is still cancer.

As always, we entered this year with high hopes. Quickly, we realized that our optimism had become dashed with one fell swoop. 2020 has brought a numbness and expectation of some form of bad news, as naturally and with as much regularity as a magazine subscription. With such a buildup of unfortunate events this year, it seems that there is very little that could phase us at this point (save maybe an apocalypse, though I can't say I'd be surprised).

Great Hardship Can Bring Great Change

Though it might not have happened the way we expected, many of us did undergo a change that resulted in "new" selves. At the beginning of the year, we were like smartphones in need of a new update; whatever would make us better, improved, the best versions of ourselves. What we didn’t realize is that this year would lead us to do more than that. In a way, we did a factory reset - powered off the phone and shut down. 2020 forced us to grow as people.

We learned to accept reality - that there are some things fully out of our control. Our eyes were opened to how often we take the importance of community and socialization for granted. We were made to appreciate the little things - from the ability to see the smile of a stranger to the joy of going to a movie. We received a loud wakeup call that there is a dire need for change in our country, turning many regular people into social and political activists, demanding reform.

Maybe it's not the transformation many of us hoped for, but in more ways than one, it was the transformation we needed. As a senior in high school navigating the college admissions experience, I've come to accept that this really is my “new normal.”

Despite the disappointment of living out my last year of high school amidst a pandemic, I realize that the trials and frustrations I endure are the same ones that everyone around me is also bearing.

Let The Struggle Bind Us And Strengthen Us

For once, the national and global community has a common factor that affects all of us. Here and now, we have a unique opportunity to connect with people from every walk of life, every background, and share our stories. It's our duty to seize that opportunity and spread a light in a period of darkness and uncertainty.

The sooner we embrace this mentality and embrace our “reset” selves, the sooner we can unite as a community to provide encouragement and support for one another, and finally, hopefully, emerge stronger together on the other side of an unimaginable year.