On, On Buffaloes: WT Students Reflect on 2020 As they Move Into 2021
By: Jessie Joseph
Let’s flashback to a time not that long ago. A time where talks of a rampant virus are inundating our social media pages and TV screens. Breaking news telling us there are new mandatory social protocols to protect ourselves and others. Plans start getting canceled, more time is spent inside, you have Zoom call after Zoom call; you are caught in a whirlwind with what feels like nothing to pull you out.
But now I want you to snap back and consider the new opportunities just on the horizon, or simply just the year 2021. Now that you made it through 2020, chances are you’ve learned a lot, gained an appreciation for new things, or dare I say, changed!
The point being, whether you believe 2020 was a beast, thief, or blessing it takes time in reflection to learn the lessons that help move us forward!
For Senior corporate communications major, Hannah Frick, there are things definitely worth leaving in 2020, but she's decided to move forward into 2021 with quite an inverse goal. Due to the unexpected twists and turns, the year 2020 brought she said, “The goal is to not have a goal”.
Frick, started off the year accomplishing one of her biggest traveling endeavors yet. She spent the start of 2020 in Cape Town South Africa, where she had been for 2 weeks studying abroad. As soon as she landed on American soil she hit the ground running with the start of what would be an insane semester.
Hannah Frick, senior corporate communications major, poses in front of Cape Agulhas. Where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet in Cape Town South Africa, on her study abroad trip in January 2020.
For the people-loving, extrovert that Frick is, “not being there in person” or just around other people, in general, brought her great annoyance. However, by the summer Frick was able to work at a Church camp that followed CDC protocols for summer retreats. It was there that Frick found peace in nature within the craziness going on in the world.
Whereas Frick was able to get in her international travels prior to COVID-19; junior international business major Maddie Kleinschmidt was learning the internship she had planned for the summer was going to look much different than what she anticipated.
Maddie Kleinschmidt, junior international business major, poses in the hear of WT's campus, near the Buffalo Fountain. Photo Provided by Maddie Kleinschmidt.
“It was difficult,” Kleinschmidt said. The Public Affairs internship that would take Kleinschmidt halfway across the world to make a difference in the lives of the people of Sri Lanka; was now transitioned to a virtual internship that would keep her bound to her home for the summer.
Now Kleinschmidt is a very planned out person, despite some of the let downs that 2020 brought her, she suggests, it was a year that could be summed up by one word; “adapt”. That is exactly what Kleinschmidt did, she planned day by day for her internship, while making time for family, and picking back up some old hobbies rather than turning to Instagram. Although none of these were things Kleinschmidt had planned for her year, she can walk into 2021 confidently stating there is “no instruction book,” but that’s okay because “I can adapt”!
Kleinschmidt wasn't the only one who opted for the adaptability mindset throughout the chaos of 2020. Senior political science major & 2020- 2021 WTAMU Student Body President, Seth Rodriguez, describes 2020 as “chaotic” just due to “Everything changing on a whim and it not really slowing down at any point”.
While adaptability happens to be one of Rodriguez’s top three strengths, even 2020 provided a bit of a challenge on that one. However, throughout the adversity of 2020 Rodriguez can step back and see the positive impacts it had on his life.
“It definitely made me more adaptable. It strengthened my relationships with people,” because “throughout all the 2020 barriers we had to be more intentional” stated Rodriguez.
For example, Rodriguez could recall when Governor Abbot made the statewide mandate for gatherings of less than 10 people and masks becoming a requirement. For Rodriguez,
this was slightly disheartening as it was just a few days before his family and friends’ Fourth of July gathering. “It was a different year to gather,” stated Rodriguez.
The 4th of July wasn't the only holiday that looked different for Rodriguez. Like many of us, the Holidays were rough waters to navigate in 2020. Thanksgiving was tough; Rodriguez’s Father contracted the virus; therefore, Rodriguez kept his distance as he “didn't want to risk” giving it to his grandmother.
In addition to missing a normal Thanksgiving, Christmas itself was also everything but normal. With more family members contracting the virus, the ability to meet for the holiday was stripped away from Rodriguez and his family.
Despite the curveballs that 2020 brought all of us, Rodriguez had a fantastic outlook, “On all of the things, I could have been upset about there were a million more reasons for each to be okay”.
Seth Rodriguez, senior political science major, poses for Student Government Association portrait. Photo provided by Seth Rodriguez.
As many of us can relate; things didn't go as we all planned in 2020. We had aspirations of traveling, trying new things, and meeting new people. But instead that quickly turned into moving back home, virtual internships, and endless Zoom calls.
Despite the difficulties faced in 2020, it is very necessary to spend some time in retrospect so that in the present you may realize it’s the little things in life that make a difference because these are the things that keep us moving forward!
To all the adventurous extroverts out there, it was hard not seeing friends in light of the public protocols set in place, but family and spiritual relationships grew more with time at home.
To all the planners and ambitious people out there, it is frustrating when plans get canceled, but knowing there is no instruction book to life proves you are capable of adapting and focusing on what you can control.
To all those who were faced with a multitude of 2020’s relational barriers, it is frustrating, but from the sorrow, there is room to learn and accept such valuable lessons of life; do not take things for granted, do not hold on to bitterness, choose to love yourself, or simply just rest.
Maybe 2020 disrupted our goals to where we willingly decided to have “not a single” goal for 2021. Or even just navigating life as we knew it in 2020 caused us to realize many things were worth leaving behind as we moved forward.
All in all, it is exciting to know, no matter how 2020 looked for each individual; it shaped us to be grateful for little things all over again. It gave us a multitude of things to look forward to such as graduation celebrations, new traveling experiences, and an overall greater awareness of the goodness in humanity that still remains!