The year 2020 was a weird one—unlike any we’d experienced before. Maybe that’s why the New Year didn’t really feel any different to me. Is it just me? I doubt anyone expected that the coronavirus would be kicking us around for an entire year.
What I typically do at the end of the year is take stock of different aspects of my life over the past year—health, finances, work, personal, and so on—and make some resolutions for the new one. As we headed into 2021, I again asked myself what kind of year I wanted to have, and all the hope and enthusiasm of a typical new year started flooding into my head. I wanted to finally study Italian for real so I wasn’t so bad at it. Be more diligent about keeping my house in order. Upgrade the items I use for work. Make the time I spend on hobbies more meaningful. And so on. But the fact that I ended up settling for “I want to get through the year safely” is a testament to the fact that things haven’t settled down at all. Isn’t it? Can you believe we’re going to have to deal with this thing for a second year?
The world has been relentlessly focused on the spread of the coronavirus in Italy. Living here, I’ve had plenty of time to take it easy at home, so while it’s been physically relaxing, I’ve also been plagued by a nagging anxiety because I have no idea where anything is going. The only work I had on hand last year was what I could do remotely, and though I was happy about having the time to dive into my hobbies, there was a persistent feeling of being cooped up from all the restrictions placed on life. Still, I think the reason there are so many people around that don’t seem worried or who easily lose sight of the threat is that unlike a war, there aren’t chronic shortages, we don’t have buildings collapsing or other auditory or visual threats, and people aren’t driven into poverty from the lack of essentials.
Some things did run out at grocery stores during the first wave, but they were quickly restocked. Meanwhile, people have made the most of Amazon and other online retailers to supply themselves with anything else they need to live conveniently. And perhaps that comfort and convenience have quietly worked their way into people’s lives and made them accustomed to this present life deprived of freedom.
When the new school year started up in September, the kids had to keep taking classes online, with no opportunity to go to their new schools and meet new friends. Now they’re likely to end the school year not having made a single one.
The new graduates who managed to get hired despite the lack of jobs took the first step towards living their independent adult lives—and yet they’ve been exclusively working from home, never having set foot inside their offices. There’s no way they’re able to feel any deep sense of having embarked upon their careers…
Meanwhile, those who tend to be awkward around people or those who were previously unable to shine at work because they were constantly stressed out from poor relationships with their superiors have, apparently, had a little easier time of it recently thanks to being able to work from home. Similarly, I’ve heard that introverted students who never spoke out in class are surprising their teachers with insightful comments during online learning—so I guess there are some advantages to being remote as well. I hope we’re able to remember those positives and make the most of them as we chart a course for the future.