What can one take away from a year so difficult? Many have lost loved ones. Others have lost livelihoods. All this while we collectively trudge along in a new normal, without a clear end in sight, where we are deprived of many of the basic pleasures we enjoyed without forethought only a few months ago.
My only suggestion to any looking to whatever wisdom I can offer is to do what I have done in the past, will do again now, and hope to always be able to do when faced with hardship. Namely, to control what I can, focus on what matters to me most, and, in sum, be thankful for what I do have.
Blessed with wonderful parents and the good fortune to grow up in a comfortable community like Roslyn, I never faced real adversity until my senior year of high school. Tragically, within just a few months that year, a close family member passed away and a member of my immediate family fell seriously ill.
I have vivid memories of a number of moments during that time period. Perhaps the most difficult part of all of it was having to see those I loved, both those directly impacted, and the rest of my family in deep pain.
These experiences were more formative for me than any others I have had in my life. My takeaways were twofold. First, I realized that there will be things in my life that I cannot control.
In response, I have since made significantly greater efforts to do what I can to improve my own condition. On a tangible level, one immediate response I had upon starting college the following year was to become a far more dedicated student than I was previously.
This allowed me to gain entry to a law school upon completing my undergraduate education that would not have accepted me had I not taken concrete actions to improve a number of my habits.
Second, I centered myself to reflect on what actually mattered in my life. Since then, small frustrations have never been a stressor upon gaining recognition of what real pain could be. Collectively, these changes made me who I am today and, above all else, have allowed me to better appreciate what is most important to me.
I write this in part out of catharsis as hard times resurface and otherwise with some hope that it can offer a reader some comfort should they be facing similar challenges.
To be blunt, this year has not been a good one and it isn’t exactly clear when things will get better.
However, reflecting on what has served me in the past and what I hope will do so again now, I will work to improve what I can control and focus on the things that matter to me most. In the end, I will be thankful for what I have.