It seems as if a deadly pandemic has done its best to hang a dark cloud over 2020. Sure, a catastrophic event has a way of upstaging its competition. But if all we do is focus on the negative, we’ll undoubtedly receive more of what we seek. But enough is enough! Looking back, 2020 wasn’t all bad.

Now that we can reflect, let’s pat ourselves on the back for a job well done.

Lately, I’ve been reflecting on aspects of 2020 that have changed my life for the better. And guess what—the list is a lot longer than I expected. The following is just my take on a year that others might see differently. Being the ‘glass half full’ person I am, I find comfort in discovering the little gems hidden under that cloud of darkness we call 2020.

Raising awareness and promoting tolerance.

Some horrible race-related incidents occurred in 2020, with tragic outcomes. Yet, what I learned from watching the media coverage of George Floyd’s death is that Americans are begging for change. However, change is never easy, and there will always be resisting forces. But the power created from these shocking events has momentum like never before.

Even commercials and other marketing media, more than ever, portray families of mixed races and gay partners with a tone of inclusion and tolerance. Media is a powerful tool, capable of shaping societies with its bandwagon tactics. These scenarios are becoming more commonplace in media; therefore, people accept them as the new norm. Think about it—it wasn’t that long ago a popular cereal got significant flack for portraying a mixed-race family. Today’s commercials and other media ads are spared this censorship. This is progress.

From then until now, other baby steps all seemed to converge in 2020 with more outspoken opinions and more people listening to those opinions instead of dismissing them. This is the power of raising awareness, and 2020 was the year of making more people aware that human beings are not one-size-fits-all and that being American is about embracing people from all races and backgrounds.

Wake-up call

Before 2020, concepts such as ‘social distancing’ were non-existent. And the general public did not use acronyms such as ‘PPE’ daily. But now that we’ve been through this horrific pandemic, social distancing could be here to stay for many people. Does this mean we can never shake hands or hug again? It is probably not, but now there is a new level of awareness surrounding these commonplace habits of the past.

And it seems we all needed a refresher on the proper way to wash our hands. But most of all, we learned that even with advanced technology and modern medicine, unseen enemies such as viruses are still a force that cannot be taken lightly. From this past year, medical professionals have learned an enormous array of information. Additionally, they have amassed a skill set they would have never tapped without the pandemic crisis of 2020. And all of the advancements developed from this new information are here to stay.

Amid this tragedy, scientists developed a vaccine in record time. And even though there might be mixed feelings concerning the vaccine, preliminary statistics seem to show that it’s doing its job, and COVID-19 cases are on the decline in many parts of the country and world. This year-long (and counting) event was our wake-up call, and the human race stepped up and met the challenges. As a result, this pandemic is in decline.

Old dogs, new tricks

The year 2020 was definitely the year that made the word ‘pivot’ a superstar. Not one person affected by the pandemic can say they didn’t ‘pivot’ in some way. From educators to small business owners— from parents to daycare facilities—frontline workers and first responders—we all had to learn new tricks to stay in the game.

While we were in the middle of the crisis, learning how to do things differently was brutal. There was no time for training, testing, or thinking. You were either all in, or you sank deeper into the quagmire. Now that we are on the pivot’s backside look at what we can do that we would never have done before.

Schools have updated technology and new teaching tools that reach diverse populations. Teachers and parents learned how to use that new technology to educate children. Small businesses got creative and developed new ways to reach customers.

Many of these ways—like delivery services and online options never dreamt of before 2020—improved the lives of stressed-out people. And the great thing is, many of these ways of doing things will stick around because they are now just part of life. These are the bright spots we must continue to pull from that challenging year.

Exceptional comebacks

Back before video games and smartphones, people had other ways of passing the time and being entertained. Playing cards, doing a jig-saw puzzle, playing board games—these family-friendly activities made a massive comeback in 2020.

With nowhere to go and nothing but time, people dug out those games, set up that card table, and started having some good old-fashioned family fun. These are the times that create memories. Most people agree that having a family game night without screens was a refreshing break from their families’ isolation technology.

Rediscovering gratitude

I don’t know about anyone else, but 2020 was the year I got out of my head and started being present for others. There’s something about not being able to see people that made me appreciate them more. I found I was more apt to make that phone call or send that long text. I learned that while I am fiercely independent, I still need my people.

I found myself making crafts and delivering them to doorsteps. I would set up virtual happy-hours with friends I hardly ever see. I did all of this because the possibility of losing any of them to COVID-19 was horrifying. Never had I ever been so grateful for family and friends. And I needed that reminder that I shouldn’t be so preoccupied with ‘me’ that I fail to appreciate those around me.

Final thoughts

With all of the negativity surrounding 2020, it’s time we try to look at the bright side. In many ways, this past year taught us some positive lessons that have re-shaped our lives. And even though these were ‘tough love’ lessons at the moment, now that we can reflect, we can pat ourselves on the back for a job well done in difficult times.

As time marches on, we will continue to discover that the trials, triumphs, and total disasters of 2020 are continually becoming our best stories, conversation pieces, and memories for decades to come.

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