V: The Unprecedented Year


The word that has been in every commercial. I hate the phrase, just as much as “Now more than ever.” But, let’s face it: it is quite fitting.

This year was not what I planned. It was not what I envisioned. And it was not what I had hoped for. Just like it was not what you planned, envisioned, or hoped for either. I remember the first day it hit me that COVID-19 was not just a passing phase [on the news] when I was tasked with preparing the collateral for a system of 10 hospitals to begin communicating the stark reality of what was to come. The next day, I cried and made myself a warm cup of tea as I worked late into the night (a trend that would define my 2020, it seems.) Finally, on the third day, I removed myself from the overwhelmed cloud I had entered, opened up a clean Excel spreadsheet, and came to terms with what would be “normal” for the next few months of my life. I got to work. And I’m not entirely sure I ever stopped.

I was fortunate. While others lost their jobs, I started what will probably be a phase that will never ever happen again in my working career. I worked in healthcare during a pandemic. I spoke to nurses, and physical and occupational therapists about the extra time and attention they took in each patient’s room, knowing they were not allowed visitors. They took extra care to offer a comforting hand when others needed it most. We heard from the scientists, whose entire lives are dedicated to studying infectious diseases, as they educated and informed us all of this great and terrifying unknown. They were among the first to charter into these unknown waters, with the public looking to them to educate them as quickly and efficiently as possible. I shared stories of community leaders who grappled to help those in need as much as possible – a need that will only continue to grow.

I’m aware of how fortunate I was, and continue to be. I tried to use this position to help others. I gave back as frequently as I could, but I was not untouched by the effects of the pandemic. I watched as plans I had laid out crumbled beneath me. And even though missing graduation I worked so hard to accomplish, a marathon I had trained diligently for was canceled, or spending my birthday in quarantine pales in comparison, the year has taken its toll on all of us. (Let’s not even begin to touch on the emotional and mental toll politics had…)

And then… I left healthcare. So when I think about my yearly reflection of what was, and what I hope to accomplish, I’m a bit of at a loss. This year, I graduated. I got a new job. But somehow, it feels guilty to celebrate that, knowing others aren’t as lucky.

So when I think about 2021, and my list of resolutions, I think I’ll keep it simple. I have gotten into the Great British Baking Show, and want to continue to try new recipes. I’d love to be able to try something new every week. I would love to try a cooking or baking class. And, as a perpetual student, I’d love to grow professionally as well. I find myself becoming more and more interested in psychology, particularly behind business decisions and applied behaviors. And while I did defer my spot for the 2021 Chicago Marathon (in an abundance of caution), I’m hoping to do 2 half marathons.

Here’s to a better, brighter 2021. We could all use a little extra hope, happiness and health right now.