Monday Author: Susanne Skinner
We had high expectations for 2021. A return to life as we wanted it to be. A vaccine to restore human contact and a rebounding economy were on everyone’s wish list. Weddings, vacations and gatherings of all kinds would make a comeback and we would feel whole again.
Instead, we got the year that wasn’t there.
A Cancelled Year
We understood 2020 was abnormal and we were (mostly) ready for it. A virus held the world hostage while scientists raced to find a vaccine. Humans isolated from other humans, the economy struggled, and our nation confronted unprecedented political strife and racial antagonism.
Although 2021 is still here, almost everything is downsized or cancelled. We remain in a remote world supported by a digital framework, and for better or worse we will continue to live in it for the remainder of the year.
By March we accept that the status quo remain as we continue to do things differently or not at all. Businesses rearrange and reassess goals in deference to a highly transmissible contagion that refuses to back down.
State and local governments, health officials, and event organizers confirm that large crowds and close contact remain dangerous. Offices, sports arenas, churches, schools and even beaches (except Florida) are empty.
We continue to live in masks while the World Health Organization and CDC declare a continuing global health crisis.
The supply chain will bear the long-term effects of this pandemic. Shelves remain empty, restocking is unpredictable and this Halloween did not boast any rolls of toilet paper in neighborhood trees.
I did not count on any of this continuing for another year. It makes isolation harder to endure, creating anxiety and depression that weren’t there before.
2021 became the ultimate life-as-we-know-it party crasher. People continue to rethink the cadence of daily life, reluctantly accepting that normal did not return.
Optimism is Stalled
When 2021 began the optimist in all of us hoped the downward spiral would reverse itself. Unfortunately, chaos and crisis do not follow a timetable or calendar.
Human nature seeks the bright side in bad situations. We hold on to the hope that we can manage whatever comes our way, no matter how difficult. But as the year rolls on the nations continue to feel the negative impact on our health, finances, and mental well-being. There is no short-term fix for the long-term effects of Covid-19.
Now that we are in the final months of 2021 we admit the climb back to the top is an arduous one. The original virus now has variants, affecting even the fully vaccinated. The vaccine itself has become politicized, creating divisiveness in workplaces and between family members.
The challenges and problems that made 2020 a hard year remain, along with the realization that not everything will return to its pre-Covid state. Some things, like salad bars, buffets, handshakes and BJ’s food samples are gone forever.
One addition is likely to remain—the added cost of disinfecting fees applied to air travel, hotel stays, offices, stadiums and conference facilities.
Better Days Ahead
As we prepare to transition from 2021 to 2022 we first need to reflect on how strong every one of us has been throughout the course of this year. The past 10 months challenged all of us and navigating the pain of loss and continued isolation took a lot out of us.
Restrictions imposed by a virus affect our self-sufficiency. The negative impact to our health, income and the ability to move about freely often exceeds our coping skills. We confront our own mortality and the profound realization that some things are beyond our control.
We have changed in so many ways because of what we endured and although they may be hard to see, some of the changes are good. A fundamental truth is that most of us fail to realize the blessings in our lives until they’re taken away. Only then do we find a new appreciation for things we once took for granted.
We learned to adapt. Businesses adapted to remote working. Restaurants created meals to go and retrofitted food trucks. Creativity is born from need, and I hope this trend sustains itself.
Most important of all, those of us who “didn’t have time” discovered that we do.
A Silver Lining for the New Year
In exactly 61 days we will usher in the new year. If we want 2022 to be a better year, we will have to make it better ourselves. Everyone plays a part in restoring and repairing what was lost and in holding on to things we found. Make a list of things that enriched your life this year so you don’t lose sight of the good.
Hard times inspire innovation and improvement. Resilience and compassion surpass uncertainty and fear, inspiring us to be and do our best. There is always a silver lining.
It’s not too early to create your 2022 mindset.