1) You never truly know when your last day will be: Early on in the year, Kobe Bryant passed away and for many of us, myself included, it was another wake-up call to point us to the reality that death has no timestamp. We truly never know when our time is coming, and I think we’ve all become more aware of that this year, whether it was through the passing of a loved one or someone else we may have known.
2) We are not as “in control” of our lives as it may seem: We cannot predetermine where our lives will take us, what situations we’ll encounter, who we’ll end up meeting, and the pivotal moments that end up shaping us. Many times, we try to control these situations and attach ourselves to them, then end up disappointed when they don’t get met. Instead of trying to control external environments and situations (like the pandemic for example), I’ve learned that it’s much more important to let go of the external and focus on the internal. Nothing externally will ever truly fulfill you.
3) At the end of the day, we are all human: 2020 has allowed us to better understand one another and realize that we all are just trying our best. Even though my Professors may not have seen this as a positive, I loved when their dogs randomly started barking during a lecture or when one of their kids walked into our Zoom call unexpectedly. Sometimes I think we get so caught up in what we are doing that we forget that we are all just people, to begin with. I loved being able to see more of people's realities this year.
4) There is so much power in vulnerability: We all went through it at some point or another this year, but the thing that makes me the happiest is the fact that so many people were open and truthful about their experiences. There is so much power in being vulnerable and I think that when people let down their egos and showcase this, we can all connect on a much deeper level.
5) Mental health is SO important: This year was huge for mental health awareness and I learned how important it truly is. Taking time for yourself to look inwards through therapy, journaling, self-reflection, and meditation (or whatever works best for you) will only allow you to become more conscious and aware of yourself and your surroundings.
6) You have to fill your cup before filling others: You can’t give what you don’t have. I realized how important it truly is to take time for yourself and fill your cup so that you can share and serve others well.
7) Uncomfortable situations allow you to grow: After intentionally going out of my comfort zone this year I’ve realized how much I’ve grown. If I hadn’t started going to therapy, reaching out to people, and having hard, vulnerable, and open conversations, I would definitely not be the person that I am today.
8) You will only go as far as your mind will take you: If you would have told me last year, that I would run a half marathon and love every second of it I would have thought you were crazy. I realize now how much influence our mind has over our lives and what we think we can or cannot accomplish. Getting past my mind and running that half marathon while having so much fun only made me want to push my limits more and see what I’m actually capable of. A full marathon is for sure coming in the future :)
9) I’m always going to be learning: After the killing of George Floyd, I became so much more aware of the fact that I knew, and know, so little about racial injustices, our country’s history of oppression, biases, and so much more. This year I also realized how little I knew about life, politics, media, science, religion, physics, our environment, and so much more. There is a lot of information that education doesn’t cover, and it’s so important that we realize this and take personal responsibility to try and gain this knowledge and insight.
10) Everything is what you make of it: All of my classes this year are online, and by the time my sophomore year is up, I’ll have spent more of my college time online than in person. This saddened me at first because people always talk about their college years as some of the best times of their lives and I felt as though I was “missing out” in a way. Now I realize that being online has enhanced so much of my college experience. I have grown so much closer to my friends, made more meaningful connections, and began to cherish every moment. I’m so much more grateful for my education, my professors, the relationships I have, and my experiences. The time spent with my roommates and friends this year (which is a lot of time because we are all online) are times I’ll never forget, and they are truly like family now.
11) Solitude is necessary: I always thought I was an extremely extroverted person (and I’m sure many teachers can attest to that as well, lol), but after this year I’m starting to think I’m more of an extrovert/ introvert. I love being by myself and in solitude.
12) It’s okay to feel lonely: I had to put this one after solitude because I feel they sometimes go hand in hand. This year, I’ve learned to accept and honor the feeling of loneliness (and other feelings that occasionally arise). It is completely normal and okay to feel lonely, especially when being in a community with one another is hindered because of a global pandemic!
13) Relationships and connections are everything: Being in quarantine and spending so much time with the people I live with has shown me the importance of relationships and connections. People always say you are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with and it is so true (so choose wisely, haha).
14) You can control social media or social media can control you: I’ve been very fortunate to have met amazing people through social media this year, but I’ve also realized how toxic certain platforms can become for me. The amount of time spent scrolling and looking at other people’s lives or posts just prohibits you from living your life at the moment. If it’s not benefitting you and propelling your future forward, then why waste that precious time?
15) There are so many distractions: When everyone was under the stay-at-home order and everything was canceled, I realized how many things in my life were just distractions that filled much of my time. Many things that I valued back then are things that I don’t value anymore, and vise-versa.
16) The time is now: I used to listen to a song that states, “If not now than when, and if not me then who?” It’s simple questions like these that I think we should ask ourselves daily.
17) Trying new things is what life is all about: I started a garden this year, and while it didn’t flourish as much as I’d hoped (and many plants may have died, lol), it was still fun trying and learning something new.
18) Less thinking can sometimes lead to heightened productivity: It sounds so crazy, but the less time I spent focusing on my schoolwork and assignments, the more productive I was. Sometimes our brains need a mental break! Taking the time to intentionally focus on things outside of school (like my health, relationships, faith, and more) allowed me to become more efficient.
19) “Vibe check”: My roommate Doan always uses this expression and I feel like it is so important to apply in life. Sometimes it’s critical to pause and assess how people and things are “coming off” or “feeling” to you. A mentor of mine says that everything in life either raises your frequency or lowers it. It’s so true. This year I’ve tried to do more “vibe checks” to see what things, and people, are filling me up or depleting me.
20) Spontaneity isn’t bad: If anyone knows me, they know I’m a very routine-oriented person. I go to bed early and wake up early so I can start my morning routine and get on my usual schedule. Well, this year I’ve learned that it is okay to get a little off my routine and be spontaneous at times (thanks to my roommates and friends). Sometimes it’s nice to switch things up and live a little!!