New Year, New Me?

Published on 2 January, 2023

In mid-March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic really kicked off across the USA. In January of 2023, COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc, although largely from the shadows (at least in much of the western world) as our collective attention has turned to new and different things. To a certain degree, I’ve felt that every new year, month, and day is merely a continuation of March 2020. It’s almost as if we’ve never quite left 2020 and nearly 3 years on we’re living in the year “2020, Revision 3” (or 2020.3 if you prefer a short-hand). Don’t get me wrong, plenty of stuff has happened in the years, months, and days since March 2020 both in the world/society and my own little slice of life. However, many of these events exist in my mind with a little asterisk pointing to a footnote that reads something like “occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic”. I know that many of them may have happened differently or maybe even not at all if it wasn’t for the global COVID-19 pandemic.

As the world and I transition into 2023, I feel a certain sense of irrelevance in the back of my mind. Irrelevance that the we are embarking on a near year, but one that feels so similar to the last three years in more ways than normal. It hasn’t stopped me from making plans and setting goals for the new year, but I also don’t feel invigorated by the opportunity of a new year. I don’t feel anymore excited, hopeful, positive, etc. about 2023 than I do when looking back at how I felt at the start of 2022. Likewise for 2021. The transition from 2019 to 2020 was the last time I felt a real excitement about the new year. Unfortunately, within a few months (and for me personally, within a few weeks) that excitement was quickly squashed and replaced with anxiety, depression, sadness, and so on. Many of these feelings I have yet to fully shake to this day. I’ve had good days and weeks in the time since of course but they’re far from the majority and are sometimes forgotten when I look back on those periods.

So with 2023 will come new plans, goals, and all the other things that come with a new calendar on the wall. But, for me at least, they will be made with a COVID-19 asterisk attached to them. One way I like to think of it is that “The New Normal” still feels abnormal to me. I sometimes wonder how I’ll feel when I look back on this period of my life in the future when COVID-19 no longer exists. Or maybe it will never not exist, and at some point “The New Normal” will actually feel normal to me. Whatever the case may be, as of yesterday I am attempting to live in 2023 or, as it feels to me, “2020, Revision 3”.

Fun Fact: As of writing, it has been 2^10 + 4 = 1028 days since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11th, 2020. Okay, maybe that fact wasn’t very fun.