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Student Blog

Lessons from 2020


Written by
Shazia A.

2020 was a year that nobody expected. In this blog, Shazia reflects on what the year taught her and the people closest to her.

Person holding string lights

I asked some of the people closest to me what 2020 had taught them. The question posed a lot of thought, each response was carefully curated, and all were different.

  1. Life is short, make the most of what it has to offer, as it is ever changing.
  2. We need less in life rather than more; consumerism is not a top priority.
  3. Be grateful for human interaction and value freedom of movement. Value the lives of others and your own life, while learning to be compassionate, patient and empathetic with those around us.
  4. We are all responsible for each other. 2020 taught me many things, but the most important lessons have come out of being in lockdown in South Africa. I've always been extroverted and indulged in socialising, but during lockdown, I was forced to be solitary. This allowed me to deepen my relationship with myself and I’ve come to understand my own needs more clearly. I have set better boundaries with others and started socialising more selectively.
  5. Life is precious, take advantage and develop successful habits - goal setting is vital.
  6. Blessings can come from the most unlikely places.
  7. I am in awe of all the selfless healthcare workers, first responders and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to save as many people as they could.
  8. We don’t always have the chance to say goodbye to someone we love. Being good to others is important.
  9. Even in isolation, the ever-changing world remains connected.
  10. Communication and social interaction are imperative to our wellbeing.

For me 2020 was a whirlwind adventure, from University acceptances to an Amazon job. I started the year off in Cape Town with family, thinking this was it, this is life, my 20's and a new decade, new adventures, an exciting world out there to discover. Wow, was I wrong!

In February and March I set out to discover the world, partying the nights away in Dubai and visiting tourist sites in New York, not knowing that we were on the verge of the coronavirus pandemic.

I would then return home to South Africa and go into a full lockdown. Restaurants, malls, movie theatres and gyms were all closed indefinitely. Under no circumstances were you allowed to leave your house without a permit and a valid reason.

Visiting the doctor or going to the grocery store were now categorised as essentials. Travelling with a maximum of two people in the car was the new order. The rules and laws were changing by the day, I had to ensure I was versed in the regulations or be subjected to fines and penalties.

2020 taught me countless lessons. If it was not for this unfortunate and unforeseen virus, I would never have stopped to think about the things around us that are not essential and in no way more important than the people I love. It’s taught me to be thankful for everything that I was fortunate enough to have been given. I am thankful for where I am, for the people that surround me and encourage me to be the best I can be every day.

During lockdown, I had to learn that patience is a very important skill that one needs to practice, it is something that is taken lightly but when mastered can make all the difference in one’s life. Another lesson I learnt is to cherish everything. Nothing in life is forever, and nothing is promised either.

It’s important to reflect on these lessons. We should never take anything for granted and always spend our time usefully. Always treat people in the manner as you wish to be treated.

So, I pose the same question to you, what did 2020 teach you and how will you use that knowledge in 2021?

Shazia studies English in South Africa.