Unprecedented. A word that echoed loud and clear in all our homes. In our offices spaces, in our dorms, in our classrooms. A word that appeared repeatedly, in different fonts, in emails, on newspapers, on WhatsApp messages. A word that shaped and defined this past year. A word that means “never having happened before” and a word that is, unanimously, the word of the year.
Sitting at my desk in front of my laptop (like I have all year) writing this, I realise that by the time you will be reading this, the year will be nearly over. Whatever happened this year may not be over because that’s not how disease outbreaks work, but at least we will have a fresh start.
I have come to realise, albeit rather late, that we will perhaps never go back to what used to be. Public gatherings will always scare us. We will act funny when we walk into a conference room to attend a real meeting, in formal clothes. We will make sure we hug our grandmas and grandpas with caution, and we will be more considerate and compassionate towards our doctors and nurses and teachers, the delivery person and the Uber driver and the cashier. Everything that we will become will also be unprecedented.
I graduated from university this year, but I didn’t get to say goodbye to the people who had been family for three years. I started studying my dream subject at one of the best universities in the world, but I didn’t get to properly meet the people who would be my family for the next year. I moved to the magical city that is London, but I got lost in it, so so lost. I forged a relationship with the most beautiful person in the world, but we’ve been in each other’s physical presence only 48 days out of 234. One of my best friends packed up his bags and went home when the pandemic began and I don’t know when I will see him again. There was someone else, earlier this year, I was getting used to but he left me more hurt than I’ve ever known (I’m happy now). I laughed all night long but I also cried all night long.
I also learnt what it means to be human and how important touch is, as each morning, the graphs climbed higher and higher. I learnt how cruel and unjust we’ve turned our society, discriminating humans against…humans. I learnt how essential it is to be kind over being clever. I learnt how nearly irreparable this planet has become, and stepped up my game in doing my part to change that. I learnt the importance of science and of knowledge and how pivotal it has been in bringing us where we are today. I have learnt how difficult our teachers have it sometimes, and I experienced a newfound love for everyone who has ever taught me in the past. I learnt how easy it is to communicate with other people, no matter where we are in the world and what we’re doing and how we’ve reached pinnacles of innovation but aren’t done yet. I listened, learnt and understood.
All of that being said, 2020 has tested our grit, our patience and our ability to be affectionate. It has thrown obstacle after obstacle at us, and so, having made it till December is an achievement in itself. And my thoughts and prayers for those who didn’t.
Here’s hoping 2021 changes that, and brings with it something new (but maybe not SO unprecedented).