2020: Same Catastrophes, Different Impacts

Confusion. Anger. Grief.

These are the words I use to remember losing my grandfather – just seven days into 2020.

I knew very early on that this year was not going to be an easy one, but the way it actually played out was beyond anyone’s wildest imagination and expectations. If you would’ve shown me what life would be like as we reach the end of 2020, I would’ve never believed you in the slightest. But 2020 is here. It’s happened. A century of catastrophe packed into 12 short months.

No matter what part of the world you live in, your occupation, economic status, or place in life, the events of 2020 have crept into every single aspect of normalcy for you. Whether it be related to COVID-19, California and Australia wildfires, Atlantic hurricanes and tropical storms, or even a personal loss like I went through, these “2020 moments” impacted you and, in some cases, changed your life forever.

Through all that has happened to us collectively this year, what is truly remarkable to think about is how every single one of us will remember the events of 2020 in a unique way, as they have affected everyone differently. For some, quarantine was boring and stressful. Others discovered they enjoy working from home and have since stayed online. While many aspects of quarantine were similar for everyone, nobody had the exact same experience with it.

The Caledonian has not been spared from the impacts of 2020 either. We’ve stopped printing and distributing our newspapers, and have instead opted to put all stories online. And while it is disappointing that our new writers will not get to experience the feeling of seeing their stories on print, I can tell you we are proud to be the guinea pigs that helped figure out how to make a fully online newspaper work.

With all these horrible events that have been thrown at us, one after the other, we all have our own unique stories to tell about them.

My unique story revolves around my trip to New York City in early March this year. I was standing on the observation deck of Rockefeller Center, in the heart of a soon-to-be-epicenter, when my phone buzzed to inform me the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic. My sister coughed on the sidewalk, which sent a fully grown man much further than 6 feet away from us quickly. Someone tested positive in our terminal the day we flew out, which happened back when COVID-19 was rare in the United States.

So while it’s looking hopeful that 2021 will slowly bring humanity back to its normal pace, the effects of this year will never truly go away. For me, there will always be an empty chair at the table on Christmas day and one less person hugging me on the way out. But maybe that’s the moral of the story for 2020; though things we go through in life will try their hardest to tear us down, we are capable of rebounding and coming back stronger because of it.

Nobody will have the same story to tell about this year, but we’ll all have learned similar lessons and built up persistence to take on whatever is thrown our way. No matter what your year has been like, that is what truly matters.