Parents would become teachers, once nameless neighbours would become friends and society would learn that the most neglected workers were, in fact, the most vital.
But, what will the history books recollect? The streets lined with clapping families, the able fetching shopping for the elderly or windows filled with messages of hope – pictures of rainbows that promised this shit shall pass. I hope it’s all remembered, but with the good came the bad. Society will never forget those that lost their lives and the thousands that tirelessly treated people, with no hesitation or thought for their own safety.
For those of us that stayed at home, that was the year that we found pleasure in the small things. We went on walks and actually enjoyed them, smiled at strangers because for the first time since World War Two; this was something we were all in together. And, whilst many of us had it easier than others, we were all united in our uncertainty at what the future would hold.
On the contrary to what many journalists initially said, Covid-19 did discriminate; it had a bank balance bias. It picked on the already ill, the elderly and those that had no feasible choice but to work. This was the year the poor would get poorer. Students would pay for tuition they would never receive and rent for a house they would not set foot in. Countless international students would be forced to stay put, far away from family and all alone.
Many third-year students would never get their end of year shows, exams and graduation ceremonies. Never getting to spend one last Summer in their student houses, abruptly saying goodbye to a city or town they had come to know as home.
Countless people would lose their sources of income, no furlough, no way to pay their bills. Domestic abuse would rise, suicide rates would soar. 2020 was the year we realised the businesses and people that cared. Not the Waterstones, or Wetherspoons of the world, but the Joe Wicks and Captain Toms.
Holidays would be cancelled, weddings postponed, and funerals attended by none. Those that died in care homes would never be forgotten but, the politicians that massaged the death statistics would be held to account.
It was the year we took as a lesson, to seek out connection in a world that can feel so disconnected. We learnt the members of society we need, the ones that work without flaunting their efforts. Not the billionaires or pointlessly famous celebrities, but the doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, retail workers, delivery people and everyone in-between that just did something to help in their own way.
How will this moment be illustrated in the countless films that will no doubt retell it? With rainbows and window waves, with facetime chats to loved ones – or by the sprouting seeds planted during hours spent in the garden.
Upon leaving our homes some returned back to their old ways but for the masses, everything changed. Individuals continued to cook and bake they persisted with reading and writing and finally, society saw the value of the things they had ignored.
And, we would all walk, everywhere.
2020 was the year we waited out the rain, in the end, a rainbow would appear.
Time and time again, people have created photo projects of people being told they’re beautiful. Truthfully, I’m bored to death of this.
What if instead of placing emphasis on appearance we thought about people’s quirky mannerisms, dirty laughs and other odd attributes . That is exactly what we did, revealing to a group of strangers messages from their loved ones; explaining just why it is that they appreciate them.
As you can imagine, their friends weren’t going crazy for their fantastic faces or sets of steel abs. Alternatively, appreciating characteristics like their zest for life or their fascination to learn.
Moving away from home to University is odd. In my experience, I went from a small town where everyone looks like they’re photocopied straight from a Topshop Catalogue to a huge City. In Bristol, people more closely resemble the Tweenies. Since swapping Joni Jeans for Dickies, I’ve been questioning more than ever my own ideas of attractiveness, and what being beautiful really means.
Whether we do so consciously or not, the varying height on which we place beauty ideals in respect to our own lives is interesting. What are your ideas of standardised beauty? What ticks your boxes?
The origin story of the word beautiful is extensive, transcending all geographical and linguistic barriers. However, in almost all cultures it is a term solely reserved for women.
Why is this? Is it because our existence is valued more on the basis of our exterior?
The definition of standardised beauty ideals has changed through time, from the unibrowed women of ancient Greece to the porcelain coloured skin and accentuated foreheads of the Georgian era.
The digital era presents its own handful of new expectations. A recognisable theme throughout all these periods, is the lengths in which a lot of women feel they need to go to in order to visually appease and satisfy.
We’ve moved from scrawling charcoal across our eyes and putting leeches on our cheeks to achieve the perfect rouge to putting jelly tot looking blobs into our bodies so we’ve got the perfect boobs.
Who are the people you choose to have in your life? The ones that make you laugh till you’re in pain, the ones that remember how you like your coffee or the ones that you just look good in photos with.
Appreciating appearance isn’t worth nothing, it’s just not everything.
In the end, looks fade and what are we left with? I’m trying to place higher value on the things that take a little digging to find, in others and especially in myself.
How is it that this year has simultaneously flown by and moved at a sloth’s pace?
Adhering to the massive cliché that I am and it being only a few days into 2020, I’ve been trying to figure out what the f**k this year was. Honestly, I don’t think I’m the only person that’s been feeling a little baffled. If years of our lives were given titles like books or films, I think the past 12 months of my life would be named ‘heavy’.
It feels like something’s been sat on my chest. And it wasn’t until I gave myself a week at home to gather my thoughts that it dawned on me that I’d been operating in autopilot. Until you leave a big city, you often don’t realise you’ve been holding your breath the entire time.
We are a generation of extremes, especially as students. Obviously, the odd individual falls somewhere in the middle of this spectrum. However, the majority either neglect their studies and focus on their social lives; or stay in the library till the early hours downing a litre of coffee.
Before finishing for Christmas, the people around me, made it so evident why we are called the burnout generation. A friend jokingly said he’d scheduled his breakdown in for just after his deadlines, explaining he didn’t have the time. Why do we feel guilty and wrong for trying to take care of ourselves?
Taking into account that we spend a vast amount of our time looking at screens or plugged into some sort of tech, why do we never think to recharge our batteries when we’re running low. We wouldn’t wait till our laptop’s battery died to do something. 2020 won’t see me creating crazy resolutions that I will have abandoned by the end of January, instead I’m just going to try and do more of what makes me laugh with the people that make me laugh most.
Plenty of people aren’t bothered by the beginning of a new year but, the transition of the 31st to the 1st is my favourite time of year. It’s another book in the saga of our lives, with all the best characters rolled over. This year is going to be my year but I reckon we can share;)
Right now you’re surely surrounded by a handful of sausage dogs in a flat with fifty windows, about to leave to go to work at a publication you adore; that makes people’s lives a little lighter with their work.
What are my hopes for you? You should still be surrounded by good people, those that supported and elevated you. You’re good at spotting the kind ones, that have you laughing until you’re in pain. However, perhaps by now you’ve left behind those silent allies, the ones that come to you when it suits them.
I’m optimistic that you’ve gained confidence in your abilities, putting aside the fear of being seen as disagreeable. Instead, write with pure intent and purpose.
Are you giving back to those that gave so much to you? Like Mum and Dad, the friends that let you confide in them at 3 am or the memorable teachers who always preached about your potential.
You’ve always been your harshest critic, I expect you’re finally making yourself proud. Continuing to build the life for yourself you’ve always talked about. Nevertheless, let’s hope you’ve dropped worrying about things that are out of your control.
If you’ve ended up not doing everything your 19-year-old brain envisaged that’s alright, maybe your tastes and ambitions changed. Perhaps life got in the way, as long as you’re moving forward in some way that’s all that matters.