For 2020’s year-end #EssayWritingContest, let’s choose to be kinder, not better

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Image: Unsplash/Tim Marshall

The last day of the year is almost upon us, and for avid social media users, that usually means one thing: 2020’s #EssayWritingContest.

Since the advent of social media, people have taken advantage of this annual unofficial custom to revisit their best moments, purge their feelings, and express hope for the new year. For obvious reasons, the tone may have to shift for this year’s edition.

Indeed, 2020 has taken us through many ups but mostly downs. We lost jobs, loved ones, and even ourselves when the pandemic uprooted our life’s plans. No one was spared. It was tough then, it’s tough now, and it will continue to be tough. However, the struggle was different for each of us. For some, it meant losing their job, while for others, it might have meant losing the will to get up in the morning. Whatever the obstacle was — retrenchment, mal-education, mental illness, or a poor immune system — they all technically resulted to the same thing: a life in proverbial paralysis.

Thus, if we may, here’s our humble suggestion: that our yearly retrospection be kinder by recollecting our collective survival instead of our individual successes.

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Image: Unsplash/Wonderlane

Of course, our personal achievements don’t deserve any less space on our social media feeds. For choosing to make the most out of what we have despite a difficult year, we proved that we have earned every good thing we’ve gotten. 

However, we also have to consider how our privilege — a.k.a. the things we had that we “made the most out of” — played its part in our personal growth this year. Let’s face it: if we got through this year, we got by because of, not despite of. Technically, we can’t out-play anyone who couldn’t even get into the field.

That’s where our tone should shift. The element that can turn a self-aggrandizing message into a message of solidarity and hope is a change in perspective.

Looking back at 2020, we can only say we became better if we became kinder too.

By being grateful for what you did despite of your privileges, and for highlighting how much you listened instead of how much you amassed, all during a year that challenged our humanity, is the true success story of 2020. Empathy and compassion is the goal. If you managed to keep your job, learn a skill, get fit, or even just stay sane and happy during quarantine, then hope shouldn’t come from telling people to “try hard enough” to achieve the same, but from encouraging them to not be so hard on themselves in manifesting “success.”

Had your first house built this year? Congrats! Grew a garden? We couldn’t be prouder. Couldn’t do anything in the past 10 months except eat and survive? Hey, you lived until you could tell about it, so that should count for something too. 

Looking back at 2020, we can only say we became better if we became kinder too. Pandemic or not, let’s hope that this is how we cap off each year from now on.

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