From the editor: Reflecting on 2020

From+the+editor%3A+Reflecting+on+2020

By Hyunjin Lee, Co-Editor-in-Chief

2020 was the year when our lives changed in a way we could have never expected. 2020 was the year when schools shut down, businesses closed, and many of us were unable to see friends and family. 2020 was also the year of racial and civil unrest, wildfires, protests, and a monumental election. But 2020 was also a year of greater self-reflection, and for some of us, a time to heal and reset our perspectives. Regardless of how 2020 turned out, there are a few lessons that I have learned that I wanted to share. 

  1. Social Media is truly unhealthy, and occasionally, unplugging is essential

I have always read articles discussing the negatives of social media, and this isn’t the first time I have thought about how detrimental social media can be in our lives. According to the Harvard Medical School affiliated McClean Hospital, social media are inherently designed to be addictive and are associated with anxiety, depression, and even physical ailments. The pandemic made me realize that mental health really does plunge the more time we spend on apps like Instagram. I am sure I am not alone in spending a lot of quarantine online or on social media. During the initial stages of the pandemic, I spent hours “doomscrolling” and endlessly looking through feeds of pandemic news, people’s rants and fears, as well as picture-perfect quarantine lives. With each post, I felt my own fears worsen, my own anxiety increase and my feelings of discontent arise. After a few months of social media detox, I definitely felt better. We just have to remember the true purpose of social media — to connect with friends and family and to memorialize moments in our lives. We can’t let social media control our happiness.  

  1. Put everything in perspective: for every negative, there has almost always been a positive.  

Concerts, dances, parties, events and conventions: all canceled in a matter of days. Calendars emptied. No more … many things. We all had something we were looking forward to doing in 2020: perhaps it was a trip, a get-together, the prom or just meeting up with friends. However, we have all had to deal with disappointments, hardships of all magnitudes and difficulties for the past several months. But take a moment to reflect back and think of all the positive things that came out of this. Did you reconnect with an old hobby? Were you able to spend more time with your family? More self-care and doing things for fun? For sure, these small positives definitely do not justify or balance all the negatives we had to endure and continue to endure, but 2020 has given us a lot of little, unexpected gifts, too. It’s just a matter of stepping back and acknowledging them.  

  1. Find gratitude, even if it may be difficult at times.  

Although it may be hard to find light during such a dark time, I have found that focusing on the things I should be thankful for has helped my mental health tremendously. Whether it be thanking your parents for a good dinner or for your health, turning your attention away from the negatives can brighten your mood. There is research to back this up. A study conducted by psychologist Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman from the University of Pennsylvania found that people who gave thanks and acknowledged gratitude frequently were happier than people who did not. 

  1. You can’t go through a pandemic alone. 

I am honestly not sure if I would have been able to keep my sanity if I didn’t have my sister. Although our relationship was not always the smoothest, being at home with her every day through the pandemic has helped me in more ways than I realized. With the school shut down and all my in-person extracurriculars canceled, the amount of human interaction I had available was reduced to almost nothing. Unfortunately, humans require social interactions to thrive and survive. Even an extreme introvert like me found it difficult to be unable to see or talk to people daily outside of my family. But having someone my age to talk to, laugh with, bake with, walk our neighborhood with and to share my worries with benefited me in so many ways. Perhaps for you, this person is a friend, a neighbor, a parent or maybe a pet. Whoever they may be, however, be sure to be grateful for them. Without others to lean on, the pandemic becomes even more miserable.