The year where everything and nothing happens

A letter to myself on January 1, 2020.

Dear 17-year-old high school senior, praying-your-SAT-score-is-good-enough Daniella, 

Your SAT score will be good enough. Sort of. At this point, you will have submitted all of your college applications, and you’ll have no idea where you’ll end up. To be honest, I think you’ll be very surprised to see where you go. I think the universe picked it for you. 

Your high school class adopted the slogan of “2020 vision” the moment you walked in. It seems that there was a collective wish around this year. Its perfect numbers made everyone dream big and have rose-colored images of their life in a year, which symbolizes perfection. Unfortunately, a lot of the year will be nothing anyone asked for. 

I know that most of all, you’re wondering if your concluding months of high school make up for some of the disappointments you’ve had. I have to be frank with you — the last semester of high school will take the back burner, and other things will supersede it. 

The advice I can offer you is this: Notice the little things, and enjoy them because you’ll be surprised at what things can be taken away at a moment’s notice. 

By little things, I mean the sips of green tea boba you have with your friend at your beloved Urth Caffé. 

That one library patron who gave the brightest smile when you helped them find the book for their little kid.

The way you and your best friend always manage to find each other, even in the most crowded parts of the school. 

Moments such as these happen all the time. I know you notice them, but I want you to appreciate them more. These are the memories that help you through the tough times. 

I wish I had a word to describe this year, but I don’t. It has been the most indescribable year of my life. “Crazy” feels like an understatement, and “unpredictable” defines most of life anyway. What’s different about 2020 compared to the other years of your life is that you’ll witness people all around the world become inextricably linked through one shared experience. 2020 is a year when you’ll see your soul so clearly in others.

But at the same time this global connection takes route, there will be moments when everyone feels so torn apart. You already know the major issues people are divided over: health care, climate change and all things politics. But, this time, you’ll really feel it. And unfortunately, these divisions will physically manifest in ways that your children will read about one day. The bright side is that you will get the chance to use your voice, even when you’re scared.

Part of me is saddened by the fact that I’m not writing to you as a super excited college freshman who is enjoying all the things that college life has to offer. I feel that in some ways, you and I aren’t as distant as I thought we’d be. It’s like everything and nothing has happened. Everything that happens this year is not what you anticipated at all. And none of the things you expect to happen, happen. And if they do, they won’t be the way you planned it. 

Remember that line from “Parasite”? You haven’t watched the movie yet, but you will pretty soon. The character Ki-Taek says, “So, there’s no need for a plan. You can’t go wrong with no plans. We don’t need to make a plan for anything.” 

Of course, you’ll always have some sort of plan to guide you along, whether it be a class schedule or the events in your calendar. But, what I understood from this quote and this year, is not to get umbilically attached to this plan. 

Even though my life now may not be dazzling, I know that in some time, there will be light again. I’ll get to look around and see the colors so much brighter and feel the hugs so much warmer than they ever were before. But don’t wait for this unknown time like I have to. Relish in those little moments now, for our sake.

There are only a few weeks left in 2020, and I’m honestly not sure if I have learned everything this year has tried to teach me. I feel that I’ll look back years from now and realize just how much the year where everything and nothing happened has taught me. 

Wishing you Godspeed, 

Future Daniella

Contact Daniella Lake at [email protected]