2020 Wrecked Me

I know I’m not alone in this. 2020 was a preposterously bad year for almost everyone who wasn’t already a billionaire. Obviously, an unprecedented global pandemic soured the year pretty early on, but beyond that, it felt like something was cosmically incorrect with this year. I fell off hard with my writing, and did my third voluntary stint in a psych ward this summer, struggling with depression and suicidal ideation. I’m recovering, and while I doubt I’ll ever be at a point where I don’t wrestle with depression, I’m getting better at handling it.

2020 took some bright stars in seemingly early, untimely deaths, including Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Chadwick Boseman, Jason Slater of Third Eye Blind, even 14 year old Ben Watkins from Master Chef Junior. Truly a cruel year. We had to say goodbye to some stars who had considerably long runs like Alex Trebek and Eddie Van Halen, but their deaths still saddened everyone who knew them. California’s wildfires spread viciously, more than doubling the acres of their previous largest fire in 2018. The racial injustice that has plagued America’s core from the beginning boiled over into rioting in major cities all across the country, including my home of Grand Rapids and especially in Minneapolis following the extrajudicial and grossly under-punished murder of George Floyd. An entire book could be written detailing the absurd number of clearly racially motivated police murders that took place this year alone. Widespread layoffs and business closings led to an unemployment rate of 14.7% in April, surpassing the recession of 2008, making it the worse we’ve seen since The Great Depression. There are definitely subjects I’m glossing over, and I don’t want that to invalidate any suffering from this year, but I’ve spent enough time in this piece focused on the negatives.

I’m not trying to exacerbate or nullify the pain and misery the people involved in these tragic events are surely experiencing, but I want to shed light on the silver linings of 2020 in the hopes that it’ll provide some catharsis.

POSITIVES OF 2020:

  • Trump lost the election (I’m not exactly stoked about Biden, but hey, at least Trump lost)
  • Long overdue and difficult conversations are being forced into the open
  • Oregon’s groundbreaking decriminalization laws have the potential to entirely reframe the perception and response to addiction in our country
  • Some amazing streaming series dropped some absolute gems for us to binge watch while stuck in quarantine (I can personally recommend Lovecraft Country on HBO, The Boys and Upload on Amazon Prime, The Midnight Gospel, The Umbrella Academy, and Big Mouth on Netflix, and Woke and I Love You, America on Hulu)
  • I predict improved hygiene habits for a whole generation
  • A revitalized appreciation for things that we once took for granted, once we’ve put this virus behind us
  • We live in an era with technology and infrastructure to handle and adapt to such a virus

These are small comforts in such a stressful time, but it’s still important that we focus on that which we appreciate and enjoy. Life is hard and painful but ultimately we have to believe it to be worthwhile, for ourselves and for each other. I’m going to try to put out at least 2 pieces of writing a month in 2021. I hope it’s a better year for all of us.

A 26-year-old phlebotomist who lives in Grand Rapids, MI. His interests include movies, linguistics, philosophy, religion & spirituality, comedy, and sexuality.

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