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COLUMN: Good riddance, 2020, but thank you for lessons learned


What a mess, what a disaster, what a journey the last year took us on. 

If 2020 taught us anything, not sweating the small stuff and being grateful should be the top item on the list. 

Whether it's health, family, food, housing, sports, work, friends or waking up each day -- there is a lot to be grateful for. 

It would be easy for me to write, "Oh, 2020 took a lot away from me," or, "I can't wait to forget 2020," or, "Man, 2020 stunk."

Yes, it did stink, in a lot of ways. Yes, it did take a lot away from me -- and plenty of others. But is forgetting 2020 the way to think?

I don't think so. 

There is a lot to learn from 2020. Taking those lessons into 2021 is a great chance to change course and live your best life. 

I reflect on the past 12 months with some regret, but also with a lot of joy as I finally grew up (not bad for a 23-year-old). 

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in the United States -- yeah, there were two full months before our world was turned upside down -- I was a relatively selfish jerk with a short fuse. I had been working on that for a long time, but I was struggling with it even more in January and February. My actions affected some people close to me and I was left alone -- for the most part -- when the first lockdown was ordered in March. 

Days were dark, I didn't want to do a whole lot. I'm thankful I was staying with my parents after getting back from the Mid-American Conference basketball tournament in Cleveland, Ohio. We were able to spend so much time together, playing cards or (safely) going out to golf made for a great summer. How about the dogs, too? I know they loved having us around all of the time! They're older, and I'm glad I was able to spend as much time with them as I did. 

I went back up to CMU and Mount Pleasant in early August to get ready for the strangest semester we've ever had. Going to class via WebEx and Zoom was beyond strange, but I throughly enjoyed the experience. Continuing to serve as the sports editor at Central Michigan Life was a new experience -- there were no sports to cover and we did almost everything remotely. 

When finally, after all of the other Football Bowl Subdivision conferences announced they would play a season, the MAC announced a six-game, conference-only football season. My excitement to cover the Chippewa football team in my final fall semester was through the roof. 

I had the opportunity to (again, safely) travel to Eastern Michigan and Toledo while covering all three home games in Kelly/Shorts Stadium. I am more than thankful for that opportunity to cover the Chippewas one more time. 

These last 12 months have seen me grow as a person. I don't think I'm quite as selfish as I was in January, and I have a much longer fuse with a lot more patience. 

We go into the New Year with hope that the pandemic will end. It will end, we will get through it as a team. For now, mask up in public, keep a distance and take care of one another and we'll see each other again soon. 

As this year comes to an end, a lot of thanks need to be given. My mom, my dad, brother, sisters, my Grandma, friends, co-workers, advisers, mentors, to name a few. I'm excited to jump into 2021 and become the best version of myself using lessons learned from 2020. I'll see you on the other side, "God willing and the creek don't rise."