On March 12th I was sitting at one of those triangular tables in the Hub, attempting to conclude an assignment on a question I wasn’t sure I ever got around to answering, with the Taoiseach’s address playing in another tab. The announcement of a global pandemic is one of the most surreal – but also most hopeless – soundtracks to study to. I pressed ‘submit’ on Canvas, walked past the swelling Boole library… and that was it: my last day of normality, of life without needing or knowing the language of a pandemic.
Nine months later, we have managed to fit our mouths around ‘social distancing,’ ‘cocooning,’ ‘contact tracing’, and get through two bouts of lockdown while becoming disconcertingly used to knowing and meeting people from the shoulders up, in a tiny box on Zoom.
December begins the process of reflection before the New Year, but what was missed and lost this year hurts more than the usual abandoned resolution. Walking through campus, masked and pre-booked, feels bizarre: an uncomfortable mix of nostalgia and something I can’t really put a name to. It’s weird and sad thinking about “your twenties” and having a big chunk of memory-making missing.
What did you learn about yourself, those around you, about what is important to you? Did you need a break, a reset, a full-on stop? Has 2020 changed your mind about what 2021 should look like? What are you grateful for? What kept you going? What tore you apart? What put you back together again?
Kylie Jenner was a prophet premature in 2016: “this year is really about, like the year of just realising stuff. And everyone around me, we’re all just realising things.” Like, I get it. There are not many words for 2020, I am glad it’s over – but I am also glad to have learned from what it has shown us, what stuff we’ve had to realise… you know?
I hope the Express rooted you to campus for the time you spent reading it this semester, and that you go easy on yourself as you reflect on the last 12 months – even the three before the world seemed to fall apart and after we all held it together.
Stay safe and keep realising stuff,