Article by Abigail Sofia Sze
Edited by Regiena Siy and Caitlin Young
2020 definitely didn’t turn out the way the fortune readings predicted. At the start of the year, everyone had expected great abundance and successes, as the Metal Rat is believed to be an animal symbolizing wealth, but unfortunately, the “新年快乐” (Happy New Year) wishes did not age as well as everyone had hoped. Instead, 2020 became a whirlwind experience that made drastic changes to our routinary lifestyles and introduced the “new normal” that barely resembled the life we’ve always known. It would definitely be one for the history books, even though there’s not much to look back on. In fact, most people would probably choose to hit the fast-forward button if such a thing existed. 2020 definitely showed us the “good” in goodbyes as we bid it farewell this 2021. Although just as the Chinese proverb goes: “守得云开见月明” (“Watch till the clouds part to see the moonlight”). There’s so much to hate about 2020, but every cloud has a silver lining, and 2020, nonetheless, taught us lessons we often take for granted.
1) This year taught us to treasure what we have instead of striving for more.
We often start each year with resolutions. We fill our lists up with I wants and I wills, and we look forward to becoming a better version of ourselves at the dawn of the year. However, the unique circumstances of 2020 told us otherwise. It wasn’t a year of going beyond your own limits, but a year of contentment and gratitude. The recent events have allowed us to contemplate on what matters most as humans, which turns out to be health, family, safety, and life.
2) Hugs are precious.
Admit it, being born and raised in a Chinese culture means that hugs are not the most common ways of expressing affection. A factor, perhaps, would be the conservative culture brought about by the traditional values of respect, more commonly known as “礼,” which translates to manner. Yet, our limited social interaction made us realize how precious hugs could be, even more so now that social distancing is the only way to show our affection.
3) We learn from setbacks.
As atrocious as the year 2020 was, it admittedly allowed us to recalibrate ourselves and reconnect with the world. The crisis was a mirror that revealed to us the harsh realities of life and the real faces of people. But even though 2020 showed us the grim side, it also showed us how humanity and goodness can still exist amidst the darkness. As the saying goes, “吃一堑，长一智” (“Suffer a moat, grow in wisdom”). We learn to be better human beings through these uncertainties.
4) We were too caught up in “hustle culture”.
2020 was a year that forced us to surrender our dreams and yield to the harsh truth. We were living such busy lives prior to the lockdown, constantly chasing deadlines and courting burnout. But then the whole world suddenly went to a standstill and forced us to take a breather. Hence, we realized how self-care was a priority and not a privilege, and we were compelled to live in the present rather than chase the future. More importantly, we have also come to realize that it’s okay to live one day at a time, and that it’s okay to do whatever we feel like doing instead of filling up our schedules with more tasks than we can complete.
5) Still, time waits for no one.
Nine months ago, no one would have imagined the uncertainty of the life we are living today. It feels like it was only yesterday that we were first confined to the safety of our own homes, and now we’ve said goodbye to the year that 2020 was. Despite how much we’ve gained and lost in the past year, time still manifests itself as the most valuable resource. We only have the present moment to live for–our past is a mere piece of our memory, and the future is still a dream. We have to keep moving forward, and the best way to do that is to let go of the excess baggage from the previous year.
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