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An ode to 2020

It seems weird to want to salute a terrible year, but as I was driving home on New Year’s Eve, my mother said something that resonated with me.

2020 was the year that “forced us to slow down.” Think about that statement for a minute. She’s absolutely right.

As Americans, our society is so consumed with the hustle and bustle of everyday life, that we had no choice but to slow down and take a beat because of this pandemic.

Yes, it took some adjusting, but those of us that are lucky enough to ring in the New Year have grown and learned more about ourselves heading into this next trip around the sun.

I know that’s the case for me. As I write these words out, I’m thinking of where I was a year ago today. I was contemplating some life changes that had the potential to turn my life upside down. Luckily for me, I decided to go through with them, and my life has drastically been changed for the better.

2020 began in an unconventional way as I had surgery just 14 days into the new decade. This was my second surgery in an effort to remedy a soccer injury that I sustained a few years ago. Thankfully with the love and support of my family, friends, coworkers, and others, I made a recovery, and my quality of life was improved.

As I recovered, I gradually returned to work with my soccer team and continued my internship with Ohio Dominican as I explored the potential next steps that awaited me.

Unfortunately, like many others, COVID-19 halted my plans as the world I knew came to a grinding halt on March 11. From there it was making adjustments on the fly and living the phrase “day-by-day” in the most literal sense as lockdowns gradually became the new normal.

I learned to be at peace with myself, I had time to think, write, read, and take much needed time to myself. The pandemic also allowed me to come to terms with an important decision I had been contemplating for some time.

To return to school to obtain my master’s degree.

This was the year that I left my comfortable job of 10 years, to return to school and pursue a career that I am truly passionate about in athletics. It was a scary transition as I said goodbye to a steady income and a “safe” way of life. It wasn’t until I left my former employer that I realized how truly unhappy I was with the trajectory of my life and career.

I was also presented with the chance to move back home, which used to be seen as a “failure to launch” but has become the new norm in this world. It’s a blessing that I never could have imagined as it has allowed me to be present and reconnect with my family daily.

Moving back to my hometown has also allowed me to see how my community has improved in the 12 years since I last resided here.

As we head into 2021, society is filled with a sense of optimism to what lies ahead. A vaccine is here and slowly being rolled out and will make its way across America, allowing us to (hopefully) rid the world of this pandemic that has taken so many lives away from us.

Life is slowly returning to normal as college and professional sports make their return with social distancing, masking, and other restrictions. As these ways of life attempt to return to normal, hopefully, the days of going downtown, or to the mall without fear of an invisible enemy return as well.

Social Justice is also at the forefront of everyone’s minds as we head into a new year. I pray that we learn from 2020 and leave racism and bigotry out of this upcoming year and trade it for tolerance and understanding.

There’s no way to know what is down the road for us in 2021 but let’s condition ourselves to start the year on the right foot and continue to march forward as we look to forget the sadness that 2020 had for us at every turn.

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