For many people, 2020 will go down as one of the worst years of their life. Future readers of history books will be amazed at the multitude of surprises 2020 presented, most of them with a negative connotation. This year brought to attention the importance of keeping high-ranking officials accountable for their actions, taking a stand against racial injustice and uniting as a nation against the devastating effects of a global pandemic.

Instead of reading one more article about how depressing 2020 has been, this is instead an ode to some of the positive things that came out of a seemingly endless year. This year we learned to better appreciate front line workers, while simultaneously trying to connect over video chat. We baked bread and played chess, but most importantly we finally had the time to focus on the important parts of our lives; taking care of our loved ones as well as our own health.

One specific plus of 2020 was the upswing in the number of animal adoptions. The New York Times understands the importance of animals in our lives, writing, “stuck in our homes, starved of emotional interaction, suddenly we viewed those formerly unwanted animals in a new light. Their needs gave a structure to formless days; their affection was an antidote to the loneliness of social distancing; their energy was an excuse to get out of the house.” Adopting a new furry friend brought comfort to many as well as providing a safe home.

Many outlets for entertainment including opera houses, Broadway stages and movie theaters were closed this year. Some of these locations couldn’t handle the cost of closing their doors. Painfully we watched them struggle to stay afloat, yet the artists didn’t let the limitation of the pandemic stop them and instead produced some of their finest work.

We saw this in the inspiring collaboration of the celebration of Stephen Sondheim’s 90th birthday, with a special appearance by the esteemed Meryl Streep whose boozy and bathrobe-clad sing-along featuring Audra McDonald and Christine Baranski made us double over with laughter. The 2021 film Nomadland encapsulated the hardships millions of Americans have experienced with the loss of jobs portrayed through Frances McDormand’s character embarkment on a journey to find where she belongs. We saw how artists gave back to their communities by holding fundraisers to support those hit hardest by the pandemic.

With many of us holed up in our homes, with little to no human interaction, mental health has become a higher priority. Online platforms provided accessibility to therapists across the nation as well as the addition of motivational podcasts and mindfulness apps for our phones. We saw people engaging in nature whether that be taking socially distanced walks or growing their own vegetables. We continue to feel the constant fatigue of continually gazing at a screen, which made moments spent with a book or playing a board game more meaningful.

This year tested our patience as well as our levels of anxiety. We rose to the task by applauding essential workers, as well as promoting and investing in BIPOC organizations and small business owners. We organized our clothes and took a closer look at needless materialistic tendencies. We gained a greater appreciation for the individuals who guide us along with our academic endeavors and who make it possible for us to succeed.

The trials of last year have impacted our daily lives and the repercussions of the pandemic will be felt for years to come, yet this does not define us. We are facing a challenge that demands unity and equity. We need to take care of one another and be grateful for the people and privileges we have in our lives. Humans are innately adaptable, thus we must continue to face our challenges head-on in this new year. We will continue to create, care and connect with and for one another. 2020 may have been a nightmare of a year, but like all bad dreams, 2020 is over, and with this new year we must focus on what is ahead.

This is the opinion of Caroline Thoms, a sophomore English major from Chicago. Email comments to Email comments to Follow and tweet comments to @LALoyolan on Twitter, and like The Loyolan on Facebook.

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