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A hate letter to 2020

From a “cautiously optimistic” third-year who is very much looking forward to 2021

<p>Emma Keller is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily.</p>

Emma Keller is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily.

Over the past few weeks, a question has continued to resurface in my head — if the year 2020 was a tangible form that I could see and talk to, what would I say to it? Obviously, I cannot speak to — or curse out — the year 2020, but pretending that I could has helped me process the tumult of loud feelings and jumbled thoughts this year has gifted me. 

This letter is a small part of that process and is quite personal and raw in its content. It was difficult for me to try to put my emotions towards this year into words but in a way, being so honest and open on such a public platform is liberating. It feels like I am taking back an ounce of control and documenting my life with my own paper and pen, acknowledging that my feelings are real and valid. I hope that in reading this — my hate letter to 2020 — at least one person will be reminded that they are not alone in what they are feeling. So, here goes nothing.

Dear 2020,

You are truly not what I expected. You were supposed to be the best year of my life. I imagined you would be the year that I found myself — the year that I started chasing down my dreams and living my life to the fullest.

What happened to “Happy New Year!” and the excitement I felt when I toasted your arrival? January — and that excitement — seems so far away and so far from me now.

“Be present. Take risks. Embrace spontaneity.” That is what my 2020 bucket list said. I was so ready to take control of my life, to grab time with both hands, stretch it as far as I could and stuff it full of precious moments with the people I love. 

But so much for living in the moment and making each second count. You have made my time so mundane, so monotonous and so utterly uneventful that the months have bled together and flown past me in a blur. 

I wish I could say that you have not been all bad. But every time I believe I am regaining some semblance of control, you pull the rug out from under me and again, I am floundering. That kind of feeling overwhelms most everything else. 

You are a wave that just keeps breaking over my head, pushing me down beneath the water and allowing me just enough time to surface and say, “I can’t breathe,” before you shove my head under again. 

Do I sound harsh? Dramatic? Angry? Good.

You have put me — and every other human being — through the wringer in every way possible. Instead of showing me parts of the world that I have always dreamed of seeing, you showed me just how evil its inhabitants can be. Instead of helping me find myself in the things and the people I care about, you have forced me to look within myself and to ask — who am I when I do not have these things to cling to?

I always thought that I would find myself in college. I imagined what it would be like to see the best parts of myself reflected in my friends and family, in a relationship and eventually in a career. And while I still believe this to be mostly true, it was not until you showed up that I realized why I cannot place my entire identity — and all of myself — into these temporary things. 

I will not deny that you have forced me to reflect on myself and to learn who I am at my core, but I still kind of hate you. Because of you, I now live for Christmas and rely on music to feel something. Because of you, I want to shove my fingers in my ears when I hear sickeningly fake phrases like “cautiously optimistic” and “the new normal.” Because of you, my dreams and ambitions of furthering myself have been completely flipped on end.

The only thing I have to thank you for is “folklore” by Taylor Swift. Everything else — every other genuine moment of happiness I have felt this year — has been in spite of you. 

I hate you for making me feel like having even an ounce of joy is selfish and at the expense of the millions of people suffering around me. I hate you for making me feel so sad even when I am surrounded by people that I love. But most of all, I hate you for making me hate you. I really did not want to.

So, instead of continuing to carry the weight you have placed on my shoulders, I am forcing all of the tears, anxiety, guilt and grief you have caused me into this letter — my hate letter to you, 2020. And while I search for joy here in Charlottesville, away from my family and amidst growing concern for the health of myself and those around me, I have to ask — are you done yet? 


Me, a “cautiously optimistic” third year who is very much looking forward to 2021

Emma Keller is a Life Columnist at The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at