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Pt 1. A Letter to 2020: New Beginnings

Written by Katie Waits

Design by Aimee Lee

A note from the Editor: this article is one half of a two-part series. To see the second letter, please see the Lifestyle section of The Collective Magazine.

So, 2020…

I would be lying if I said 2020 was a decent year. We would all be lying. I had high hopes. It seemed that everyone on social media did too, with hopeful tweets about the modern ‘Roaring Twenties’ and ‘the start of a new decade’. It’s quite painful to think back about how optimistic a lot of us were, and how different it turned out to be.

Halfway through my second year of university, I felt that things were finally looking up. First year wasn’t too great, but I was finally feeling comfortable with my course. Those reports on the news about Covid-19, although concerning, could quite easily be pushed to the back of my mind. I’d booked concert tickets to see Harry Styles and Niall Horan, and had every intention of seeing and spending time with my friends. It was looking like the beginning of a pretty normal year. Until February that is.

2020, did you really have to give us two storms in a row? In February, my house, along with many others throughout my county, got flooded. The devastation it left behind I will never forget. But, I will also never forget the support of my friends, my family, and the community at that time, including the people who gave us packed lunches! I’m so thankful. Unfortunately, shortly after, Covid-19 became more of a concern in the UK. The immense stress of just thinking that we would have to spend a lockdown in our flooded home is something I’m almost positive won’t happen again in 2021. Fingers crossed!

2020 snatched months of university away from so many of us. In March, I spoke to two of my friends about the rumours of the university closing, hoping they wouldn’t. I remembering saying bye to them, optimistically. A few days later, all universities switched to online learning. Oh dear…

The next few months were extremely tough, but I made it through! I’m incredibly proud of myself. Despite the situation with my house, forcing me to apply for extenuating circumstances, I managed to meet my deadlines. I’m so pleased that I (somehow) managed to achieve what I did. Whenever I get worried about my essays now, I remind myself how I powered through them during that part of the year. It really reminds me of what I’m capable of, despite the circumstances.

That doesn’t mean students have had an easy time. We all got fed up of 2020 and the struggles it brought pretty quickly. We have all had to adapt to online learning, with Zoom seminars and recorded lectures. For many, I know they’ve struggled, and have found the lack of in-person contact stressful. I’ve lost count how many times my friends and I talked about how overwhelmed we felt. We didn’t expect it to be like this. Personally, I hate how much time I spend staring at my laptop screen every day, worrying that my unreliable Wi-Fi is going to cut out right in the middle of an important discussion. Although, it is quite funny when someone’s cat interrupts the Zoom call. That always makes my day.

Like many others, I have not been able to regularly visit my grandparents and have missed them terribly. I’m incredibly grateful for their good health, but even now, not visiting them often, and not being able to give them hugs really upsets me a lot. I wasn’t able to visit my friends, and by the time December rolled around, I hadn’t seen my best friend in over a year. I’m really hoping that I can visit my grandparents more this year, and perhaps give them a hug. Actually seeing my friends in person would be great too, if I remember how to socialise that is…

At the very least, I’m glad that 2020 gave the UK lovely weather over summer. I think a great deal of us were glad to go for sunny walks or spend time in our gardens, or outdoors in general! That summer meant that my family could go for drives again. I also managed to get out of a terrible reading slump. Reading definitely helps with stress! 2020 allowed me to reconnect with the hobby I love most. Also, my family and I went on holiday to Pembrokeshire, and spent an amazing week away. Staying away from people, we went for long walks on the beach, and had the occasional ice cream. I can’t emphasise enough how good that week away was for my mental health. At the moment, my Dad is still deciding whether or not to book our next holiday, just in case. I’m still going to remain hopeful that the situation will improve so that we can continue our annual trip. Having something, even something small, to look forward to, even if it seems impossible, reminds me that this isn’t going to be forever, and keeps me hopeful!

Now, after a summer of being able to visit my Gran and Grandad at a distance, and even getting to have a birthday meal with one of my friends, circumstances are difficult once again. We’ve gone in and out of several lockdowns, and university just seems more overwhelming than ever.

The last few weeks I’ve been reflecting a lot, and writing this has allowed me to get some of these thoughts down:

So, 2020, I’m happy you let us move back into our home after the flood and have a lovely Christmas despite restrictions, appreciative for all the time you gave me to watch Doctor Who with my sister, and for the beautiful autumnal walks. I’m grateful for the health of my family and friends. But I think you’ve done enough. Many people are going to need a lot of time to heal. I don’t think any of us will miss you.

And, 2021 – Please be brighter, healthier, and happier. I hope to have a lovely graduation. Let me hug my grandparents or at the very least let me visit them regularly. Can I spend time with my friends, and go on day trips again?

I know things won’t get better or change just because it’s a new year, but I want to try to be optimistic. Our current situation won’t be forever.

#2020 #COVID #Dear2020 #DearDiary #newyear

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