2021, Let's Try This Again

Tiffany Bradford-Oldham's 40th birthday dumpster fire cakes made by her spouse.


I want to admit a truth. I didn't start this blog until this week. It is unlike how I usually try to work, but given how 2020 has been I didn't want to begin this process to scrap it and rewrite because something NEW had happened. It's been a year.

I don't know how everyone else is feeling, but I am more than ready to toss this entire dumpster fire of a year away. The year began with such promise, especially for those of us with milestone birthdays, only for it to be filled with fear, disappointment, social strife, impeachment, risk of war, poor responses to crisis, financial struggle, fires, murder hornets, isolation and for some death. Looking at the recaps of 2020, we have been through a lot. If you are wanting to dive into gallows humor Amazon and Netflix have 2020 specials that are worth the watch. For those who tend to focus on the good things NPR and Huffpost have offered some things that went right this year.


Still, if you are like me you may feel like you are somewhere in-between. There was a lot to hate about 2020, so many things missed, delayed, fumbled, postponed, cancelled, shuttered and lost forever. As much as we are all yearning for 2020 to end in reality 2021 may shape up, at least in the next few months to be as equally lamentable as 2020. Yet despite this looming cloud over the beginning of the year there are some things I have considered that I want to share with you:

1. You can learn a lot about yourself when you must be still.

For many of us the normal routine was disrupted a lot and while there was many challenges, some of us found we had a lot more time to sit and think about who we are, what we want and what we do when this time is over. Sitting still allowed me to really think about what it is I want for the second half of my life and what I really wanted my long-term goals to be.

2. Your circle is only as strong or as weak as you have allowed it to be.

This year we have had to be creative about how we connect with each other. This may be the first time those we hold close to ourselves may have needed our help or vice versa. I know for me 2021 will start with a family birthday party for my grandmother via Zoom. Additionally, I have encouraged my spouse to reach out to friends more and I have found my conversations with friends/family are richer and deeper than they have ever been.

3. Good things can come from bad things.

This pandemic has opened our eyes to things we need to fix to be a better global society, from social justice to healthcare system preparedness. For example, I have seen more done to fix the digital divide in the last 6 months than I have in the last 6 years, and many have now began to see internet access similar to a public utility than a nice to have. We have exposed many things that could be better and have a better understanding of what it will take to fix those things.

4. We are more adaptable than we think.

At the beginning of this pandemic the idea of millions of Americans working and going to school from home, sounded like a futuristic fantasy akin to the flying car (and yes, I'm still waiting for that...though a transporter sounds more appealing these days). Yet here were are some of us edging up on a year being home. It has not been without challenges and failures but we did it, we are doing it and we will get better at in the future.

5. There is no reason to not be authentically you, and it's never too late to start.

The biggest lesson I am taking away from 2020 is this one, and the one that I hope that many of you take away as well. Life is short, and I am not going to sugarcoat that statement. This is a fact I have always known. No matter if you end up living as long as my grandmother or pass away before you even have a chance to retire, like her daughter, my mother; there is never enough time if you wait to start living and nothing is promised. 2020 put this concept squarely in our faces as the pandemic indiscriminately has taken not only the institutions, we thought were solid and rocked them to their foundations but have for some, taken people we love.

If there are things you have left undone, unsaid and unrealized...now is the time. If you're afraid, know that everyone is afraid the first time they try something they have not done before, and that fear is a good thing. Fear keeps us grounded to reality but it’s not an excuse to not spread your wings and fly. If you don't know if you can handle the work or the stress, realize you made it through this rocky year; maybe not without scrapes and scars but you are here. Finally, if you have no one to tell you they believe in you...let me be the first.

So, come on 2021 we are ready. I challenge you to want better and to be better. Also, when you see me with a cake that says 40.8, know I am being authentically myself by reclaiming my birthday. ;)

Blog Category
Adult Nonfiction


Submitted by Jo-Ann Wang on Fri, 01/08/2021 - 5:25 PM


Your Comment
I would love to redo last year. My, my what a year, but there are some good that came from last year: the protests that showed that people care, even though George Floyd died, the election that finally reflected our votes even though it was recounted and fought over, and the pandemic that revealed our shortcomings, our healthcare system, but also revealed our tenacity and resourcefulness in how we continue to work and adapt. I don't really know what to make of it. But I agree with you whole heartedly, let 2021 come and let us live unafraid.

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