As we entered 2021, many of us reflected on the difficulties that we were able to overcome in 2020. We had to learn how to navigate through a global pandemic. We sought institutional change across the nation, addressing the social injustices that exist within our communities. We missed out on big milestones, from graduations to weddings. We lost loved ones. We experienced a multitude of challenges that often seemed never-ending. But finally, we reached the end of one of the most historical years that will go down in US history and hoped for a brighter future to come in 2021. However, less than a week into the new year, on Jan. 6, 2021, we witnessed another traumatic event unfold at the United States Capitol, where the building was breached, riots ensued, and lives were lost. While we continue to build on our resiliency and strength with each of these events, it doesn’t make the fear, stress, anger, or any other combination of emotions that arise easier.
Students have begun returning to school for the spring semester, whether online or in-person, and continuing to live through traumatic historical events makes being a student that much harder. For me, personally, as a woman of color, it has raised my anxieties about doing things as simple as going to the store or walking around campus. Watching what took place last week created a pit in my stomach that I can’t seem to shake. In times like these, I turn to friends and family. It’s so important for me to have conversations with people who can either relate to what I am experiencing or validate my feelings, ultimately allowing me to feel heard and providing comfort in knowing that I am not alone. But again, these are traumas that don’t just go away overnight.
Over the past year, we have learned the importance of taking care of our mental health, and bearing witness to the events that have recently unfolded reminds us how important it is that we must actively work daily to build healthy coping skills and practice self-care. Remembering to unplug and just be. If I have learned anything recently, it is that it is important to give yourself grace. Allow yourself to feel. Allow yourself to rest. Continue to check in on your loved ones and with yourself. We can’t know when the next traumatic event might happen, whether globally, nationwide, or in your personal life. But, what we do know is that we can continue to persevere by leaning on one another, practicing self-compassion, and maintaining hope, as we did in 2020.