An ode to 2020

"We can’t deny that 2020 has been a tough year for all of us"

By Noor Al Sayegh

If 2020 could speak, or better yet, could sing and perform a duet, I truly believe it would ace Shaggy’s song featuring Rikrok, “It wasn’t me.” Although, we all know that with Rikrok’s situation, no matter what Shaggy advised him to say – it was really him. I mean, who were they trying to fool? He was “caught on cameras!” But regardless of how this song made us feel back in 2000, today, I would like a comeback. Only this time, 2020 would be singing it to us, and only this time, “It wasn’t me” would sound so genuine, if only we listened thoughtfully to what it had to say.  

Looking back at the start of January, I recall the jokes that were made about how awful this year had started.  Jokes and memes about what the world was facing, and the sarcastic anticipation of “the worst”coming went viral on social media. Some of us might called it a coping mechanism to what was really frightening us; these jokes might have been our escape to lighten the circumstances many of us were enduring. However, as the days went by, these jokes escalated into something bigger. In fact, 2020 doesn’t sound like a number or a year from the amount of blame we have put on its shoulders. We have made it seem like the years we live through are either lucky or jinxed, black or white and that they are the ones that are in control of the good and the bad that is happening to us, while completely forgetting that our own thoughts, actions and perspectives can spark a change that is definitely needed for us to live more calmly and breathe more easily. 

Having said that, I want to clarify that leaning towards humor through difficult times isn’t bad; it’s quite the contrary. After all, it is said that laughter is the best medicine. But what is harmful is when these jokes get out of hand and turn into actual beliefs that the year 2020 isjinxed, and the impatience for the last day of this “awful” year to arrive. It is as if, with the change of time, every bad thing that has happened to us will go away; as if, we are literally starting a new page, and the circumstances we’re dealing with today will vanish within a minute. Spoiler alert: Page 1 out of 365 is a sequel of what happened the days before. I’m afraid to drop this information on you, but we are living in a sequel of events, just like the TV show you’re watching – only this is real.

Yes, we all want things to be different. We are all hopeful, or at least, we try to be. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having new year resolutions. We buy a new journal, a new pen, new Nikes, new anything we need for us to say the phrase “new year, new me,” or  “the old me is dead and gone.” We’re thrilled to begin new and healthy habits. We keep track and post about our “page 1 out of 365,” page 2 and maybe even page 3. But try to refresh your memory, have you ever seen someone posting about page 12, 32, or 47? The answer is: Not really. Because life happens in our years, and sometimes things don’t go the way we hoped for them to be. 

 As much as we want to be in control, sometimes things get out of hand. The new year will still bring challenges you wouldn’t like, just like the old year did. It’s inevitable. Some days you won’t have the strength to write in your journal, or wear your Nikes and just do it. Unfortunately, you will not be able to grab the calendar and tear page 12 out of 365,  just because you don’t like it and can’t deal with it. Although, I know there will be many dates you and I will be tempted to tear, and sometimes even wish not only for that day, but for the rest of the “awful”year to end – just like what we’re experiencing today. 

But only wishing for a better year isn’t the solution. What you feel today you’ll feel tomorrow if you didn’t try to change your perspective. What you feel today you’ll feel tomorrow if you didn’t try to change your thoughts.  What you feel today you’ll feel tomorrow if you didn’t try to change your actions. It’s not about the year, and it never was.

We can’t deny that 2020 has been a tough year for all of us, to say the least. But good things also happened to many. Somewhere in the world someone healed from a severe illness.  Someone fell in love. Someone fixed a broken relationship. Someone started new. Someone finally stopped mourning. Someone got married. Someone got hired. Someone had a baby. As a matter of fact, someone delivered a baby at a hospital in the midst of a massive explosion in Beirut. She still had her baby. 2020 was their year in that respect. Let’s not take that away from them by labeling this year an awful one. It is yours too for making it this far. 2020 was built with strong shoulders to carry a pandemic that any previous year wouldn’t have been able to.

On the not so happy side, someone is still battling a stubborn illness. Someone is still waiting to be blessed with a baby. Someone got laid off. Someone is grieving. Someone lost a love. A home. A country. All these people are us, going through ups and downs that can happen this year, or any year. Only this time around we’re going through it with sanitized hands and with our masks on. And only this time, our will to survive is alarmed and awakened to take care of ourselves, our countries, and mother earth from what has happened, and what is yet to come. 

2020, if I haven’t defended you enough in this article, just follow Shaggy’s advice and simply say… it wasn’t you!

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Noor Al Sayegh is an Emirati writer with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and human services. She has found her passion through writing and has written a collection of reflections while she lived shortly in London. Noor is also passionate about charity and has started her own project called “Letters from Noor”,  for which she writes encouraging words to people, believing in the Prophetic saying: “A good word is a charity”.

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