Updated: Mar 21, 2021
On March 16th, 2020, normal life in Massachusetts and Vermont seemingly halted. In both states, gatherings were restricted, dining at restaurants was prohibited, visiting friends and family were discouraged. Most of us, myself included, realized we were entering a very steep battle against COVID-19. As many of us Googled the terms "quarantine" and created makeshift masks, we braced for a radical shift of life as we knew it. We never would have believed, a year later, this battle would have taken half a million lives, more than World War 1, War War 2, and the Vietnam War Combined.
On March 16th, 2020, I turned 21.
Today, 365 days later, I turn 22.
As I blow out my candles on this birthday, I reflect on how much I have grown this year and can't help but know the pandemic is to thank. In the hardest year of my life, I have found resilience, love, and hope, and I wouldn't have wished it any other way. It's reassuring to realize all the things that went wrong to make so much go right. One day, I will tell my kids and grandkids about all I experienced in my 21st year. I'll tell them stories of how hardship creates resiliency, and how distance spurs appreciation.
My 21st year made me slow down, and really think about who I am, what I am doing, and most importantly why. It made me reflect deeply on what makes me happy, and healthy mentally and physically. In a society that emphasizes external gratification, I began emphasizing my internal gratification, focusing on what makes me grateful and happy, and letting that navigate my decisions.
Many of us will celebrate a second birthday in the midst of COVID-19. When you do, I hope you also reflect on this year through a positive lens. Acknowledge the hardships you endured this year, and more importantly, celebrate the lessons and love you experienced. Here's to another trip around the sun.