Next Year is Friday

Do Not Set a High Bar for Yourself in 2021

This Friday begins 2021.

I have seen people with their avatar pushing a stone-looking 2020 out of the picture on Facebook.

It’s cute and funny. We all get it.

2020 was awful because we all had to change our behavior when gathering together or attending public places. We had to stay at home, work from home, order food from home. There were drastic changes!

As a teacher, I had to adjust to teaching online. That was a real change because most of my curriculum was based on in-person learning. I wouldn’t be a teacher if I didn’t know how to be flexible and a problem-solver. As teachers we were stressed to keep learning “as normal” which was a tall order for many teachers who were not accustomed to teaching online or tech-savvy. We had to learn new tools such as Schoology to keep our lessons organized and accessible for our students.

Then, we had to go back into the school building with students whose parents wanted them to be there and teach them at the same time with the students online! Teachers were near exhaustion and in tears because we taught black squares with just the students’ names during our Zoom sessions.

It was depressing! I teach ninth-graders, and some of them are new! I had to ask some of them to turn on their camera because I had no idea how they looked! I didn’t know who I was teaching for most of 2020!

After Thanksgiving, teachers were given a choice to teach from home again. I chose because I have asthma and I am a diabetic; and, the COVID numbers increased. The first-responders have it hard to ease the pain of the afflicted with the disease and teachers have to be present and aware while teaching with a mask.

Now we have a vaccine or vaccines available to fight against Coronavirus. In Arizona, they are looking to inoculate educators next because we need to get our students back into school. I have to admit that I have my reservations about the vaccine, but what else can I do? I get the flu shot every year and I do well with it overall; however, I am unsure about the vaccine’s strength and aggressiveness. Science like this usually takes years and years to get it right, but these pharmaceutical companies are sure of the vaccines, even after spurts of studies.

I have the feeling that everyone wants to leave 2020 behind, but in reality, we cannot do that. The beginning months of 2021 will have remnants of 2020. The beginning of a new presidential administration will be a relief, yet, the Biden-Harris team will have a lot to clean up and sort out after Trump leaves office. We can’t expect miracles to occur in the first few weeks; this is when we will need a lot of patience.

Also, I am not going to claim a resolution that I will not keep. There are small goals that I promise not to ignore anymore. For one, I want to keep writing. I enjoy writing and I want to continue to enjoy it. I want to start reading for enjoyment and relaxation again because reading is something I enjoy! I want to take walks around the neighborhood and the university because I love the fresh air and my dog loves being outside too. If you noticed, I did not mention I lose weight or save money, or eat well. That doesn’t mean I will not do those things, but I will not put them on a list of priority resolutions – I refuse to flow with traffic because 2021 has to begin differently than other years prior.

We have changed in the last few months in 2020. Our attitudes toward health and well-being have shifted. It is a no-brainer that taking care of ourselves should and will always be at the forefront. Therefore:

I will continue to wear a mask even after I receive the vaccination.

I will continue to wash my hands (as I have always done).

I will continue to physically distance myself from others.

Yes, we will embrace 2021 like a hero rescuing people from sudden disaster; but, we cannot go back to what we have known before all of this has happened. Too many people have died from COVID (over 300,000 in the United States) for us to think we can resume business as usual. Maybe I watch the news too much, but I am trying to be a realist.

I am sharing this with all of you: Do not set a high bar for yourself in 2021. Take it easy and enter 2021 quietly and gently. Be kind to yourself – love yourself – take care of yourself mentally first. We are exiting a rough ride, and we need time to breathe and set a course to learn what 2021 will bring us.

After all, 2021 is on Friday.

Author: L.S. Watson

Hi. My name is L.S. Watson, and I'm an English teacher at a charter high school. I enjoy traveling (my favorite places are Rome and Paris), writing poetry, and watching documentaries. I have a lovable yet stubborn Yorkie-Poo named Chuy.

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