A global pandemic. The Black Lives Matter Movement. One of the most controversial elections. And much, much more.
I think we can all agree 2020 had its fair share of downsides, but for me, 2020 was a year that I accomplished a lot and came to many new realizations.
When COVID-19 hit and the world was pushed into quarantine, I can truly say I made the most of that free time. Although I felt upset and highly unmotivated, part of me maintained a sense of ambition that encouraged me to take advantage of that time. I have always been the type of person to take on multiple projects and leadership roles simultaneously, and I’ve always felt guilty for not doing work (yes, I blame this on being a Capricorn).
Fortunately, just before quarantine began, I had decided with a few other women from Lehigh that we would create a magazine. Quarantine was the perfect opportunity to begin our passion project. We launched The Fit Magazine in May and it has grown immensely since.
We have hired staff at 16 campuses both across the U.S. and internationally. It also gave me the opportunity to attend a Zoom press conference with Katy Perry. Learn more about The Fit Magazine in my previous post: All About The Fit Magazine.
Besides founding a magazine, I published my first book.
I am beyond proud of this accomplishment for several reasons, but most importantly because I followed through with it. This is not the first book I’ve written, but the first book I’ve published, and I completed it in less than a year.
I was 14 when I wrote my first book. I showed it to a New York Times bestseller who saw my potential and put me in contact with an editor. However, I never finished the editing process for my first book and began to lose hope that I would ever be an author. I even erased “publish a book” from my bucket list. (Yes, I have bucket list full of things I wish to complete in life).
When the opportunity rose to write a new book in 2019, I grabbed onto it, and this time I didn’t let go. In July 2020, I published my first book, Female-Empowered Fashion.
The Fit Magazine and Female-Empowered Fashion are my two greatest accomplishments of 2020, but I did more on the side. I completed a social media internship, participated in a PBS-NPR partnership and took on higher editing positions for Lehigh’s student-run publication, The Brown and White. First as the deputy lifestyle editor as the publication transitioned to remote operation, and then as the first head of a new multimedia department focused on creating podcast and broadcasting content. I even received a press pass to film a Kane Brown concert.
I have also come to new realizations in 2020.
First, to be grateful for my family.
Seeing family, from immediate family to grandparents to extended relatives, has always been a part of my life. I have a huge Greek family. But COVID-19 has taught me to value my time with them even more, as I’m sure it taught many people across the world this year.
Quarantine also gave me the opportunity to spend more time with my family. Though that definitely had its ups and downs, it was much needed.
Growing up, my family has never sat at a dinner table together. The five members of my immediate family eating the same meal, at the same time, at the same table—unheard of (unless we were on vacation). Don’t get me wrong, my parents are happily married and we all live in the same house besides when my sister and I are away at college. So, how have we never eaten a meal together? My parents have always worked long hours while my siblings and I bounced around extracurriculars, so it just never worked out. And we never tried to make it work. Quarantine was the first time my family sat together, all five of us, to have dinner at our kitchen table. Even in quarantine it only happened once, but that’s better than never, and I’m grateful for that.
Second, it showed me the true meanings of trust and friendship.
This was a crazy year, and the people who stayed by my side through all of it— the people who I could confide in about my problems and who were there for me when I needed them—those are the people who I will take with me into 2021.
Third, it grew my appreciation for where I’m from.
If you really know me, you know I’ve always dreamed of escaping to live out my life in Europe. However, this past year has definitely made me more grateful for my home. While it has made me more disappointed in the U.S. as a whole, I have realized how important it is to be close to family when I need them and how much I actually appreciate the city. January 12 marked a full year since I have been New York City, and I still can’t believe it. I miss the city more than ever, and I’ll be counting down the days until I can go back. (I even miss the LIRR.)
Leaving 2020 behind, I look forward to this new year and can’t wait to see what it has to offer.