I’ve spent much of today and the better part of this week trying to figure out how I’d write something along the lines of a reflection on what this year has been like. It’s the last blog post of the year, and when it would seem like I would have some plan or even a hint of what to say, I have nothing. So I went back and read what I had written at the end of last year, as we all were ready to embark on a new decade. I wrote that “I know that amidst whatever challenges I will face, I want to prove to myself I can overcome whatever odds.”
A year removed from writing this last year, the one thing that I remain grateful for first and foremost is being here to write this post. From the millions who have died across the globe from the pandemic, imperialism, and other efforts exacerbated by this racial capitalist system, I am grateful that my close family members are okay and were able to be fine through the most difficult year of all of our lives.
In 2020, I went from cautious optimism about electoral politics to realizing and experiencing its limits through conversations with comrades. In 2020, I went from Bernie Sanders to Frantz Fanon, redeveloping, and re-evaluating my political education to a position for the first time that centered around the most vulnerable in society. In 2020, I went from spending the majority of my education in isolation to being in conversation and working with folks all across the country. I read more books independently than I had in way too long, listened to hours of podcasts, and wrote a lot about these developments in my ideology here. From just June to September alone, I would like to think I matured significantly in my willingness to have my ideas challenged and my worldview flipped. I connected with folks online, tuning into maybe too many Zoom webinars, but it all just made me feel less alone than one could imagine not leaving the house and not seeing your friends every day.
In 2020, I learned a lot about the people in my life. I affirmed my commitment to friendship with those I care about, while also realizing that some folks genuinely will prioritize their creature comforts over the lives of working people. Staying inside did so many things mentally to millions of us especially in the US, but I never, never let that dictate my behavior. My access to health care, my youth, and good health was something I was never going to take for granted. Nothing about my approach to safety would change one bit if I had to go back to the start of March. I would not lie to say that I wasn’t hurt by the carelessness of some people I know. And that’s a whole other level of reflection I went through in 2020.
In 2020, I spent more time at home than I had since I got my driver’s license in my junior year. I had more frequent, longer conversations (and arguments) with my family now that I didn’t have anywhere else to go besides the rooms in our house. I went to so many random different parks in my area, going on random walks nearby, and rediscovered so many bizarre things about living in the Bay. I got way, way too into coffee and built a brew station in my apartment back in Chicago. I gained some semblance of a cathartic, balanced relationship with coffee as opposed to the weird situationship where I was way too dependent (and maybe I still am but it’s at least aesthetically pleasing to brew now…).
In 2020, I learned to dream like I never have before.
If there was one thing I could take away from this year, amidst all the trauma, the violence, the grief of this year, it is that I know I can and must dream to survive. I refuse to let what I am living through inhibit my ability to seek out and hope to see a world that is habitable and just for all of us. The reason why the photo this week I put on the top of the blog post is a shot from The Last Black Man in San Francisco is because my family and friends are what made this year such a momentous time for growth for me. It took a lot of hard criticism and advice from those I care about that got me through this year not just intact, but stronger and more empathetic than I’ve ever been. I know that the year turning over does not mean the end of everything that has happened in the last twelve months. But, I hope I can continue that persistent, necessary vision to dream. And I’ll continue to share a few of those here next year.
Being Noah Tesfaye #163: Some Words Reflecting on 2020
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