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BWW Blog: 20 Things I Learned in 2020 - The Good, Bad and Everything In-Between

Before the year closes out, here is a list of twenty things I learned in 2020.

BWW Blog: 20 Things I Learned in 2020 - The Good, Bad and Everything In-Between

It's no surprise that the last 366 days have been anything but normal. 2020 has been a whirlwind of a year for a multitude of reasons and while the history books are certainly going to remember the insurmountable events that occurred within the last twelve months, it's important to look back at the lessons we've learned as well. Although it might seem impossible, through all the unprecedented times, adjustments and craziness that has been continuous this year, there have been countless things we have learned thanks to the pandemic and other strenuous circumstances. So, before the year closes out, here is a list of twenty things I learned in 2020.

1. Grow through the unexpected

If you had asked anyone on New Year's Eve last year what they thought 2020 was going to be like, absolutely no one would have suspected a global pandemic to completely upheave life as we know it and change everything in every way possible. But that's exactly what happened. To put it simply, the entire year was unexpected and caught almost everyone off guard equate nothing like this has ever happened before. However, despite the crazy adjustments and learning how to learn in a COVID-19 world, looking on the bright side became crucial. Many used the stay-at-home orders to pick up new hobbies they've never had time for, explore new aspects of self care and help themselves cope with the loss of "normal" life. In comparison to the beginning of 2020, we have all grown in our own ways thanks to the adjustments we had to make due to the new circumstances. Although it's definitely not ideal, one of the positives to come out of this year is that everyone has grown like never before which is very admirable. Now in the future, when the unexpected occurs, we know that growing through that experience is possible and necessary.

2. Everything happens for a reason

Personally, I'm a huge believer in this one. Even before 2020 turned the world upside down, I have always thought that anything happening in my life is happening for a reason even if it's unknown to me. But this year truly solidified that mindset. While no one certainly asked for all the events that occurred over the last twelve months to happen, they are necessary for whatever great things are coming in the future. Despite unforeseen and unwanted circumstances, this year caught everyone off guard which also brought on several new challenges. And trust me, no matter how well others handled the sudden changes, no one wanted every aspect of life to be uprooted and changed like it was. And although the pandemic is deadly and many of the other events that happened this year were negative, it's all a precursor to something incredible.

3. It's okay to not be okay

Mental health was put at the forefront this year with the pandemic taking a very large toll of people. Thanks to Gen Z, who has tirelessly worked towards advocating for mental health, many came to understand the importance of a simple fact that has always been overlooked. It's okay to not be okay. Every and all emotions are valid. This year was not only incredibly hard due to the relentless negativity and continuous changes, but millions realized that their mental health was majorly suffering as well. Because of that, education about self care, prioritizing the needs of those who need help and pushing for the general population to recognize that it's okay not to feel positive or happy all the time especially in the middle of a global pandemic became much more common. 2020 taught us that more than ever our mental health is more important than anything and not being okay is entirely okay.

4. The little things in life matter

Following the countless cancellations, postponements and changes made to events and public life in general, this year made it clear that even the littlest moments and things matter most. In a pre-pandemic world, things like traveling, attending concerts or even going into restaurants was common and normal. Now, many people don't have the "big ticket" events to look forward to anymore so everyday actions have become crucial. Something as simple as getting coffee, watching your favorite TV show or spending time with friends through virtual options have been bright spots in the middle of a very confusing and upsetting year. Those moments of happiness are important no matter how big or small they are. Before 2020 turned everything upside down, no one appreciated the little aspects in life because we didn't have to, but this year has taught us even those things make everyday infinitely better.

5. Never give up on things that you care about

In wake of the peaceful protests backing the Black Lives Matter movement which sparked after the injustices against several innocent African Americans including Breonna Taylor and George Floyd that lasted through the summer, this year has taught us to not give up the fight. No matter what you believe in or care about, if you feel strongly about it, never give up fighting. Change can be made when voices are used consistently and the difference even one person can make is remarkable. In the past, we have seen historical movements sprout up out of nothing and in 2020, it became clear that something on a much larger scale would be remembered forever. Millions of people joined the push which only further emphasizes that if you care about a topic or issue, use your voice and never give up on creating change for the better. The future is yours.

6. Be a kind human being

This one might seem simple, but after seeing the endless dispute about the simple procedures of wearing a face mask to protect yourself and others during the pandemic, it's clear that this is not a priority for everyone. Being kind is one of the simplest and easiest things to do. Now more than ever, we need people to be nice and care about others which shouldn't be something that needs to be asked. During tough times like the events of 2020, people who are kind and helpful are appreciated for so many reasons. Bringing light into a time when many need it is something that's not only important, but simply makes the world a better place. The simplest actions could make someone's day. So on top of caring about others, which should be a basic necessity, go above and beyond to be as kind as you can be. There is always more room for kindness.

7. Always appreciate the people in your life

One of the most obvious things 2020 taught us was how special it is to have the people we do. From friends, family to even classmates, everyone in your life is there for a reason and in a year when everything got disrupted, we quickly realized how thankful we are for every single one of them. Even though seeing anyone or doing anything in person became impossible, technology stepped in to allow us to connect with the people who mean the most to us when we needed to. Knowing how hard the last year has been and what we have all gone through, it's more needed than ever before to appreciate the people in your life. Sending them kind texts about how you're grateful for them, make virtual or safe plans, send a handwritten letter or simply remind them that you love them. Those little acts go a long way and everyone deserves to hear those words often. Spread love and never stop!

8. Make the most of every moment

Despite 2020 not being what anyone planned, we had to learn how to continue life in a very different way which means also reimaging the moments that make living incredible. However, just like learning that little things matter, even the most basic moments suddenly had meaning that we didn't even realize until now. Something as simple as waking up in the morning, catching a beautiful sunset, finishing a new book or laughing at a joke became important to our wellbeing. Making the most of every moment has always been part of life, but became much more prominent this year when many were struggling to find something good in all the craziness. Even if nothing exciting is happening, making every moment feel amazing is only going to make you feel better. This year taught us this in so many ways.

9. There is always a bright side

Yes, this year was terrible for a lot of reasons. But, believe it or not, it wasn't all bad. Everyone experienced at least one great thing this year among all the not-so-good parts of the last twelve months. And because of that, this year taught us in a very complicated way that no matter how horrible a situation is, a bright side always exists. You just have to believe it's there and look for it. Whether it's a promotion, meeting a new friend, getting an awesome opportunity or finding joy in something you love, good things will always exist in dark times. Although the pandemic has proven to be a heavy subject that has also affected millions of people's lives, the kindness and goodness in the world has continued throughout it all. 2020 is a prime example of when everything seems negative, just step back and find the good things. A bright side always exists.

10. Knowledge is power

As slow progress is made in our country for social justice issues among many other topics that have been under fire this year, it's obvious that knowledge is power. Education gives people everything that's necessary to not only understand the world, but how to change how everything works. Now, with the Internet to connect people across the world and the younger generations coming to terms with exactly what has to be changed, knowledge of these important issues have been put at a forefront. This year pointed out that knowledge is power and can be used to create a future that is best for everyone no matter what. Read, listen and learn.

11. You are responsible for your own happiness

This was a lesson I learned the hard way this year. Losing live music impacted my mental health in ways I never saw coming and because concerts always bring me the most amazing sense of happiness, a sudden gap existed in my life. Gone were the days of looking forward to a show, getting excited about traveling to the venue and seeing an artist I really love. Instead, I had to come to terms with creating happiness myself and from things I maybe never valued as much in the past. The fact is, you are responsible for your own happiness. Yes, other factors can contribute to it and make life better, but in the end you are the one determining if you are happy or not. In the beginning of the pandemic, I was more upset about what I was losing this year than focusing on trying to be happy with what was still available. Long story short, you make your own happiness and always can because that's what's important.

12. Hobbies are not pointless

With a lot of extra time on our hands this year, many people picked up a wide variety of hobbies, myself included. When the world is in its usual rush, there never seems to be time for activities that seem "pointless" or don't have to do with something beneficial like school or work. However, 2020 showed us that hobbies are amazing and everyone should have one. From cooking, knitting, making YouTube videos, writing or gardening, hobbies can be things you really enjoy and like doing. Not everything has to be for a bigger outcome. On the surface, hobbies might seem pointless, but if they helped millions of people get through a global pandemic, I think they deserve some credit. So next time you're bored and just scrolling on your phone thinking about what you should do, find a hobby and start it!

13. Change can be good

It's no surprise that everything has changed this year. Our old way of life seems to be nonexistent now, but that doesn't mean change is a bad thing. Sure, a lot of the adjustments the pandemic brought on were very unexpected and hard to get used to, but in some ways, the change is good. Many are scared of change in any way because it's something new and not similar to what is well known. Stepping out of our comfort zones can be scary, but is necessary to grow. Over the last twelve months, the changes to our lifestyle have been both good and bad since the circumstances of the pandemic are mostly negative. However, it's important to remember change can always be a good thing and we saw that several times this year with the peaceful protests, safety precautions and more.

14. Music can make everything better

The music released this year was nothing short of phenomenal. Many artists dropped surprise albums, new singles and even held virtual livestream concerts for fans to experience the magic of a show from the comfort of their own homes. And when everything else seemed to be falling apart over the course of the last twelve months, many people turned to music to help them get through the tough times like always. While some found comfort in music that matches their emotions, others enjoyed more upbeat songs to remind them that happiness is still out there. The power of music is nothing new, but 2020 amplified just how much we need artists to create especially in difficult times like this year. Comfort and solstice can be found within the tunes that are released and unlike ever before, music was needed to help make everything a little bit better.

15. Don't be afraid to ask for help

While millions experienced negative impacts to their mental health this year due to the crazy circumstances, many learned that asking for help from loved ones or professionals is more than okay. Not only does it help in breaking the stigma around mental health, but it truly allows everyone to feel a little better during rough times. Whether it's just listening or actively helping in some way, asking for help is never something to be afraid of and 2020 showed that we are truly stronger together. This year has presented challenges like no other, making it impossible for almost anyone to really adjust, which proves that leaning on friends or family to help you get through. With mental health becoming a more prominent issue, millions have seeked out assistance from others in a truly unprecedented time. Help is nothing to be scared of and can only better you so remember that for future instances as well.

16. Don't take anything for granted

Another phrase that has been said over and over for the longest time, but didn't have true meaning until this year. "Normal" life had become what we were used to in every capacity to the point where when changes were made to what we were already familiar with, it felt like the world was turned upside down. But when the things we had become so accustomed to having or doing like eating at a restaurant, traveling, attending concerts and so much more started being put to an end due to the safety precautions related to the pandemic, the things we once took for granted mean everything now. This year has been the biggest lesson to not take anything for granted, no matter what it is. From the simplest moments to the big eventful days, appreciate it all because you never know when things might suddenly change.

17. Keep looking forward

All those saying about getting through the rough times for a better end result were proven to be true this year. Although it may not exactly seem like it right now, all of the negative things that have occurred in 2020 allowed us to see that in the end, this will bring us something great and things will go back to "normal". But until then, we have to keep looking forward. Even though this year has seemed like the worst possible thing to happen, it's crucial to remember that looking forward to the better things that are coming will not only make the current situation seem a little less daunting or rough, but will change your perspective completely. Hope is a magical thing so just keep looking forward. Good things are coming.

18. Live the life you want to live

Under the crazy circumstances, it might have seemed really hard to live the life you want when everything you want to do isn't possible in a world impacted by a deadly pandemic. However, 2020 taught us every minute should be put towards living your best life and having days that you are happy to be alive. While we each had to rework that definition this year, it's now a tool to use in the future to make sure that everyday is part of the lifetime you are proud of and enjoy living. In the new year or when things finally go back to what we can call "normal", take this lesson and use it going forward. There is no fun or joy in living a life you are not interested in, so make sure you do whatever you can to make it yours.

19. Be creative in every way possible

This year has taught us thinking outside the box is needed in every aspect of life. Reimaging how to spend time with loved ones, learning to adjust to new restrictions and making everyday enjoyable with the loss of events or things to look forward to all included thinking creatively. With the unexpected changes 2020 presented, it's almost impossible not to learn how to creatively think so life could remain as normal as possible. From FaceTime dates to celebrating birthdays while also doing the everyday tasks, life had to quickly become different but just as satisfying. Everyone's creative thinking helped the world become as good as possible during all the circumstances. And using all these instances in the future will only continue to enhance our way of living going forward as 2020 has taught us.

20. New beginnings are on the way

Although 2020 has been an exceptionally hard year for countless reasons, new beginnings are on the horizon. With the new year arriving soon, everyone has a chance to spend the next 365 days any way they can to enjoy life to the fullest. Despite how difficult this year has been, it is not permanent and better things are coming. Endings are also beginnings so on this January 1st remember everything you went through in 2020 and take those lessons to make the next year as amazing as you can.

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From This Author Student Blogger: Breanna Ebisch