OPINION: The Guilt of 2020


Hailey Stessman

For the month of December, allow yourself to rest. Graphic by Hailey Stessman/The Gateway

We’ve made it, the final month of the cursed year that was 2020.

In ‘normal times’, December is the season for festivities, baking cookies and enjoying a cup of hot chocolate with extra marshmallows as snow blankets the streets. The end of the year asks us look back on the year and reflect on all of the progress we have made. However, it won’t be much of a surprise that this holiday season will be quite different from previous years. Through all the sadness and pain that has occurred, I don’t think it would be too much of a stretch to make the assumption that we are all exhausted and not in the usual mood to do any sort of reflection.

For many of us, we will be spending the holidays alone. No Christmas dinner. No early morning to give gifts. No family gatherings. Most of us will be alone watching reruns of holiday movies and snacking on cookie dough we were too lazy to cook. While the majority of the year has been spent in isolation, the thought of closing this year alone can be scary. This particular time can raise feelings of unease, sadness, and extreme loneliness. Oftentimes, our thoughts get the best of us.

When thinking about looking at the past year, I immediately recoil. From the effects of COVID-19, the immense losses people have suffered, and the heightened anxiety and depression rippling across the country, it can be easy to fall into a pit of self doubt, discouragement, and guilt.

I think I can positively say that many of us have a shared experience of falling behind in both our schoolwork, our personal goals and our mental health. But when social media outlets or family members ask you to reflect on 2020, don’t feel ashamed to say that this year sucked. It’s okay to feel lost and burned out.

Your struggles and your pain are valid. No one, including yourself, should make you feel guilty for any ‘failures’ or any sort of lack of progress from the past year.

Please do not feel as though, since it is the last month of 2020, you have to overexert yourself to make up for lost time. Take December to be gentle with yourself. Try your hardest to pick out a tiny victory that you had from the year. It can even be the fact that you got out of bed every day or managed to make yourself a decent meal. Every victory is worth celebrating, no matter how small.