In this "end of 2020" blog post, I'm not going to recap all the reasons 2020 was terrible. There's been enough of that and most people are tired of it.
I'm not going to spin recent news to make 2021 sound like it'll be too much better either. Even as we see good signs on the horizon, there's been too much public health, political, and economic damage. A lot of this damage will last well beyond the next year.
I especially won't write that this year (or the next) is something we can overcome by "changing our mindsets" or "just making something of ourselves." I don't to be another white guy doing the "gaslighting and dismissal disguised as inspiration and individualism" dance in America. Stress will keep hitting us in these difficult times. Meditation and gratitude help, but coping strategies aren't complete solutions.
Instead, I only want to write one thing I haven't heard or read much as 2020 winds down.
In 2021, hold onto enough hope and goodwill to stop yourself from sliding into pure cynicism and apathy.
It's impossible to not feel some cynicism, and a little can be helpful at times. But too much takes away any feeling of control, and with that goes one's will to do anything to help. Even if someone only does something unbelievably small to help themselves and others, it's vital they not forget it. One small good thing is better than no things at all.
What are these small good things we should keep trying to do? I know a few off the top of my head.
- Give a monthly donation to a charity or nonprofit helping others. Small, recurring gifts are more affordable and do more long-term good - $10 a month for a year is better than a one-time $100 gift. Food aid or direct cash transfers are my personal favorites.
- Use your work or hobbies to help others, even in little ways. For coders like me, focusing on web accessibility can help more people down the line. It can serve a larger purpose and still be something you enjoy doing. But it can be as small as making others laugh, or sharing bits of useful info.
- Take care of your health with exercise, sleep, and a good diet. Better self-care lets you do more good for others in the long-term. You can't help anyone anymore if your health collapses around you.
- Spend time with friends and help them feel better. Check in on them and show them you care. Knowing others don't want you to suffer is a huge motivator to keep moving forward.
2020 was horrible, and 2021 will be slightly to marginally less horrible for the same reasons. I don't think we shouldn't try to just avoid all its sadness, anger, dread, and frustration. That's unhealthy and will only make those bad feelings fester and grow under the surface.
I think the best thing is for each person to stay positive enough to make 2021 a little less terrible. At this point, every bit counts. These little steps could be what lets us walk out of this nightmare down the line. So we should remember to keep picking out the positive moments in the continuing tough times.
Here's to taking as many steps as we can, together, in 2021.