Auld Lang Syne: One Student’s Farewell to 2021

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When 2021 began, many of us hoped for and expected change for the better, but as the new year progressed, we noticed that many of the great problems we faced in 2020 continued to fill our consciences. As Henry David Thoreau once said, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” The challenges we have had to endure are undeniably taxing, but we should instead highlight the incredible progress we have made in the past year instead of sulking about our seemingly incessant problems.

The COVID-19 pandemic has defined the last two years of our lives, and that is a hard fact to ignore. An innumerable number of people have caught the illness, and millions have died due to its effects. Although this may be depressing, our progress in resisting and defeating the pandemic is a matter of celebration. A conflict of this magnitude has not existed since the end of the Second World War. During 2021, the COVID-19 vaccine was administered to 48.3% of the world population. While millions may have died, billions have been partially shielded from the wrath of the coronavirus. In addition, restrictions put into place in 2020 were reasonably loosened and improved in 2021. We were able to experience a much more tolerable and effective school year, and we conformed to the difficult circumstances. 

Besides the pandemic, we experienced many other changes and challenges in the past year. One such change was seen in the transition of power to a new president. Along with a new presidency always comes hope for improvement. While political division may still plague our country, and our new leader may prove to be unpropitious, any change in leadership generates hope. 

After all, there is no pragmatic reason for us to continue, yet we beat on. The very challenges that seem to worsen our lives are the same ones that keep us able and willing to continue.”

We have accomplished a multitude of technological and scientific advancements throughout 2021. We landed yet another rover on Mars, along with a small helicopter, which has given way to the first powered flight of an object on another planet. Also developed this year was the first general vaccine for Malaria endorsed by the World Health Organization. 

Even within our small community we have experienced an exceptional year. We have made great strides in recovering from the pandemic, and we have returned to many traditions. Some of these traditions include Senior Prom, a typical graduation ceremony, Homecoming week, and the Winter Concerts. Sports and student clubs have returned to an arguably normal state, and students have been able to attend school in-person each day alongside their classmates and teachers, whom some may not have seen for quite some time.

Despite all of this, our recollection of great accomplishments over the past year must not hide the important issues at hand. We continue to face challenges that we must overcome, and we cannot put them aside or disacknowledge their magnitude. Most people will say we face unprecedented obstacles, but it is often forgotten that nearly everything lacks precedent. Uncertainty will always be present. No matter the circumstances, we will manage.

When the year 2021 began, a cloud of hope drifted into our cluttered sky, however, many may argue that it drifted right past us. As we bid 2021 farewell and transition into yet another year, neither our ability nor our will should be questioned. After all, there is no pragmatic reason for us to continue, yet we beat on. The very challenges that seem to worsen our lives are the same ones that keep us able and willing to continue. Some may lack hope for 2022. Some may say it contains too many twos, or that it will be a mere repeat of the previous, reputedly “dreadful,” years. But if 2022 does in fact turn out to be similar to the past year, will that be such a bad thing?