2020 was difficult, and a whirlwind. Yet this storm ushered in a prioritisation of ourselves and who we are. Covid-19 threw us on a path of self-discovery, whether we welcomed it or not. With only ourselves and a small bubble, we had a unique opportunity to hone our sense of self, to figure out who we are, who and what we value, and what we want from our lives.
In the first lockdown, the whole world was seemingly paused, and it presented this brief period of time to refocus and recentre. Whether it was through taking a long-needed break from the outside world or isolating us from a toxic circle, Lockdown 1.0 forced us to re-evaluate and savour the small moments. In a pre-2020 world, moments of homemade whipped coffee or baking banana bread could’ve seemed insignificantly miniscule – but this unrelenting year forced us to rediscover those small joys all over again. For those of us lucky enough to be locked down with loved ones, it brought us together and showed us how to give and receive love when it felt like the world was falling to pieces.
Yet the wonderfully strange thing of being in lockdown in 2020 was that we were never truly alone; with social media, we were at one another’s fingertips. Perhaps one of the biggest saviours of the year was TikTok, a video-based social platform catering for every niche imaginable.
We were able to build communities with strangers, bond over similar circumstances despite being continents apart. We rediscovered our old passions for that one band from our teenage years or those books we used to obsess over – but, crucially, this particular platform showed us how to grow into ourselves and who we could be.
Never before have I seen so many strangers actively finding good in one another; in sharing humour, doling out tips on how to cope with and resolve past trauma, and empowering people to finally dress or do their make-up the way they’ve always wanted to despite conventional social norms.
TikTok showed us it was okay to be who we were and celebrated us for evolving into our true forms. There was something about seeing others live their lives generously and unapologetically authentic that gave us hope in humanity’s character – we were all learning how to be kinder and come together as a community. In big ways or small, intentionally or otherwise, we all grew during that period – we became more self-aware, more accepting of our so-called ‘flaws’, and more appreciative of all we have and had.
Whether through inspiration or necessity, these lockdowns also gave us the chance to do something we always wanted to do. And for those of us who had the luxury of logging off from our lives during the initial lockdown, we delved into hobbies we always wanted to discover: baking, fitness, fashion, or blogging – we began doing things for the sole purpose of enjoyment.
One crucial thing to note is 2020 taught us courage. In seeing the bravery and selflessness of the NHS and the essential workers who gave us the gift of being able to stay home and to be healed from COVID if necessary, we became inspired to be brave in our own lives.
Some started businesses around their passions and others embarked on journeys of healing – in a world that seemed alien from all we knew, anything went. And so, we began doing things for ourselves – because if there’s one thing COVID taught us, it’s that we need to begin actively partaking in our own lives. In forcing us to do things purely for our own happiness again, 2020 showed us what we valued, what made us happy and how to hold on.
But, as always, there is the other side of the coin. The storm of 2020 swept us off our feet and flipped our world upside down. We were forced to change every aspect of our lives, from being confined at home, to choosing a tiny circle of people we trusted to socialise with, to having our life plans derailed for the foreseeable future.
As the months passed and lockdowns came and went, it became easier to become demoralised and disillusioned. The rising statistics made it harder to watch the news – hearing of each person dying and leaving a mourning family took a toll, and so some of us (myself included) found disassociation as a coping mechanism. With a transition from basking in the sun’s vibrance in the summer to staring at the pouring rain in the winter, it became harder to retain the positive mindset we once had.
I noticed a shift from actively trying to enjoy the tiniest moments of the day to just trying to motivate myself to complete the bare minimum. But in all this, I was forced to self-reflect; with my disillusionment came a stronger sense of comfort in my own company and a stronger belief in the validity of who I was. I came to appreciate my better days with a new mindset – and I learnt to remind myself my worst days won’t last forever, and that I was surrounded by people who valued me. This new decade taught me, and many others, just how much we can withstand and how strong we are.
We lost much in this past year or so and we will forever remember this difficult period, but we will also remember how we got through it – together, as a community, sharing our experiences and bonding internationally.
With vaccines rolling out, it seems there may finally be light at the end of this tunnel. When we finally emerge from this pandemic, we must carry these lessons we learnt into our new lives – we will live life actively, surrounding ourselves with loved ones and truly appreciating them, living authentically despite negative opinions, and continuing to do things for pure enjoyment.
This decade began with an intimidating roar but better days are coming, and we’ve already made it so far.
Written by Hanaa Moledina (Instagram: @makeupxhanaa)