The positives of 2020
by Madeline D.
Please note: Student testimonies were collected anonymously via a survey of the Class of 2021.
Looking back on 2020, we can all agree that it was one of the toughest years in memory. Political upheaval and an unprecedented pandemic have transformed our daily lives in a way that we could have never imagined, not all of them negative. As 2020 fades into the background, it is important to reflect on the events that made this year so challenging, as well as the moments that we will look back at fondly. Students shared the best parts of a historic year.
What is one positive thing in your life to come out of 2020?
A theme in many lives over the past 10 months was the opportunity for personal growth. Students are largely grateful for the opportunity that quarantine provided to work on their mental health and reflected proudly on the ways that they learned to cope with quarantine. One senior confessed, “I would ignore how bad my mental health was when I was with or talking to my friends but then once I would be alone it would all hit me again. So during the quarantine, I worked on ways to keep myself happy when I was alone. Now whenever I am alone, I do something that makes me happy like driving around, playing my guitar, painting or just watching something fun on Netflix.” Others remarked that such a destabilizing period improved their understanding of the parts of life that they took for granted. “I’m getting to see my friends grow into themselves and realize what they want to do after school, take steps to achieve that, get jobs, and just generally begin to thrive,” one said.
Despite a year of isolation, drive-by birthday parties, and Zoom Thanksgiving dinners, many feel that this time has strengthened their personal connections. One student said that the best part of their 2020 was, “Spending time with my family. I feel since we were stuck together for so long we grew closer.” Another explained that because their parents were working from home this past year, they got to spend holidays together as a family. Despite limiting social interactions, some even made new friends, explaining, “I met some people around the country because everything is online and so accessible now.” In the age of social media, our isolation is not quite as painful as it might once have been.
Above all, this year taught us to appreciate the little things that make life joyful. One senior got their first car this year, some were accepted into college, many set more time aside to read, or took up new hobbies. One student explained that they quickly got tired of video games and spending time on their phone during quarantine and instead took up painting to pass the time. “The blobs on the page were so horrific that half the time I just threw them away,” they said. “I never stopped painting though and I can proudly say I still paint to this day and am a lot better.” Optimism is a key coping mechanism and 2020 may have forced more of us to look on the bright side. One student said that they have learned to love face masks because they didn’t get sick with so much as a cold this year.
What was your favorite memory of 2020?
2020 made students appreciate the small wins. A day at the beach or even returning to school in the fall felt even more special. Some passed major milestones this year, from applying to college to getting their pilot’s license over the summer.
This year also brought us covid-safe versions of our favorite activities. One student remembers a trip to see Jurassic Park at the Wellfleet Drive-In Theatre, bringing their own snacks and drinks and enjoying a movie safely.
Others stayed home and took their favorite pastimes to new heights. One student completed a 3,000 piece jigsaw puzzle all by themselves.
When you think back on 2020, a year, 10 years, or a lifetime from now, what do you think you will remember best?
One interviewee pointed out, “We apparently made it successfully to one, ten, or many years past 2020. That must mean something.”
Some will remember the March 13th, when things flipped upside down here in Duxbury. One student said, “I’ll remember when school first shut down and everyone was celebrating before we knew what this would’ve turned into.”
Some will remember the seemingly endless days they spent in quarantine. Whether it is the countless movies that they streamed, playing with their dog in the backyard, or making whipped coffee from TikTok.
Some will remember the times that life began to feel almost normal again. “I will remember going back to school in person because it has been great,” one student said, “despite wearing masks and some fears about the virus.”
Some students will remember what it feels like to experience the parts of this pandemic that will go down in history. One student said, “I’ll remember how my mom was a healthcare worker through the pandemic and how she worked through it all and helped to save lives.”
What we will all remember are the ways that this past year made us stronger and prepared to take on any future challenges. “If ever something will happen again in the future, fear not!” one student said. “I just need to pull out my old Legos from the basement!”
Remembering not to take things for granted and that we are all in this together, despite our separation are important lessons. Heading into 2021, a student said “I want to remember it as a turning point towards positivity.”