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2020: Expectations vs. Reality

This past New Years Eve was full of happy anticipation for the exciting year ahead. My fiancé and I celebrated with my brother and a few friends back in New York, where we’re both from. We watched the ball drop on TV and clinked champagne glasses while trying to see through our lopsided 2020 glasses, toasting to our upcoming August wedding and all the fun events that would precede it. We, like everyone across the world, had no way of knowing what was going to happen this year.

We had no clue that things were going to shut down or that masks would soon become as ubiquitous as smartphones. We, like everyone else, had so many plans for 2020, and as we started working from home, celebrating various holidays and birthdays through Zoom, and finding new ways to entertain ourselves without going out, we still naively thought things would get better by the summer, and life would go back to normal. But as the year went on and things got worse and worse, we realized that normal life is going to look very different, maybe temporarily or maybe even permanently.

As the pandemic dragged on and August got closer, we were faced with an insanely difficult choice: postpone our wedding entirely or try to have a smaller wedding on our original date, and then do the big party next year. To be safer, we decided to postpone everything to next year. Even if COVID-19 regulations were going to allow us to have a small celebration, how could we ask people to risk their own lives and the lives of others just to come celebrate with us? How could we ask our vendors to do the same? Even if we only had 10 people celebrating with us, we still felt the risk was too much. If someone got sick, got others sick, or even died, we couldn’t live with ourselves knowing that we may have been the cause.

We know we made the right decision, and we are lucky that things haven’t been worse for us, but 2020 has still been a difficult year, as I’m sure it has for most people. At the beginning of the year, our calendar was filled with exciting events: concerts, visits from family and friends, trips back to New York, our wedding and all the fun pre-wedding events that were supposed to come with it, and so much more. One by one, everything continued to get postponed and canceled, and as the year goes on and I continue to realize, “we should have been at my grandma’s house this weekend,” or “we should have been getting married today.” It’s been a roller coaster of emotions, which has been tough on my mental health. I go from feeling sad and angry about my plans being upended to feeling guilty about thinking that way, and around and around until I find a way to take my mind off of everything.

I know I’m not the only one who has experienced the highs and lows of being excited for plans and their subsequent cancellations, but the things that make the lows more manageable are always different depending on my mood. Sometimes I need to clean my house while blasting music, sometimes I need to relax with a book or a TV show, and sometimes I need to let myself disappear into a long workout. Staying off of social media can also help a lot, and sometimes distancing myself completely from my cell phone is all I need. Or sometimes just letting myself feel whatever I need to feel, without making myself feel guilty, helps even more than distracting myself.

2020 has not been the amazing year it was supposed to be, but I’m hoping that next year will be better. If we can all continue to protect ourselves and others by wearing masks, washing our hands, and social distancing, maybe it will be.