The Year You Survived

Paul Cantor
Dec 9, 2020 · 2 min read

The end of the year is here. I know you, overachiever that you are. Pandemic and all, you’re taking stock of it. In a world where everyone somehow still seems to be crushing it, did you do enough?

The truth is, you did. If you are alive reading this right now, you did enough. This was a crazy year, and you survived. Maybe you social distanced, maybe you didn’t, maybe you worked from home or maybe you had to go out there and be amongst the people. Maybe you didn’t even work at all. Maybe you’ve just been locked in your house/apartment since March. Maybe you are living in your parent’s basement, home-schooling yourself. Maybe you spent your stimulus check on fireworks. Maybe you’ve just been smoking and playing video games this whole time.

Whatever you did, you survived, you got through it, and now you’re here. You hit the streets after George Floyd was killed, you protested and marched, you stood up for the things you believed in. You went to bat for your co-workers, your fellow students, friends and people you never even met before. You saw an injustice, centuries in the making, and did what you could to correct it.

The election was coming, and that was big. Democracy was on the ballot. You mailed in your vote or you showed up at the polls, braving long lines and risking your health so you could have your voice heard. Trump sued to overturn the election, but there was nothing he could do. You wanted change and you got it.

You didn’t see your family and friends as much. Nobody did. But you thought about them more than you may have done before, and you understood, through no fault of your own, that time with loved ones is not always guaranteed. Why put off until tomorrow what you could do today — everyone always says that — but then there was this question of whether tomorrow would ever come.

Still, you’re here. And hopefully so are they.

You parented your children in ways you hadn’t done before, watching over them day and night. Maybe you had to quit your job to do it. Maybe your job was forced — via the government — to quit you. But you did it. You took care of your kids. There is no unit of measurement to quantify how valuable that is. For you, for them, for everyone. You did it.

This was the year with the asterisk, the one where you had to ask all the big questions. Now that you’ve normalized wearing a mask and keeping your distance from everyone, now that you’ve grown content with asking yourself a hundred and fifty questions about safety before you make a simple decision about where to get a hamburger, you’re back to your old bullshit.

Did I do enough? What did I do? Am I enough?

You survived. That’s enough. Really it is. Everything else is bullshit. You survived. That’s all there is. Nothing more, nothing less.

This was the year you survived.

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Paul Cantor

Written by

Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

Curious

Curious

A community of people who are curious to find out what others have already figured out // Curious is a new personal growth publication by The Startup (https://medium.com/swlh).

Paul Cantor

Written by

Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

Curious

Curious

A community of people who are curious to find out what others have already figured out // Curious is a new personal growth publication by The Startup (https://medium.com/swlh).

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