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The Daily Tar Heel

Editorial: What got us through 2020

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A group of students wearing masks study together at the quad, Polk Place, on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020

When December rolls around, there is cause for reflection. Another year over, full of experiences, memories and events that mark that time. We begin to think about resolutions and what we learned from the past year as we move onto the next. 

But this year’s reflection looks different. We are nine months into a pandemic that has kept us sheltered at home and disconnected from those we love. Processing the loss and change that 2020 brought will take time. While there is hope for a vaccine in the near future, what 2021 will look like remains unclear. The Editorial Board has used this space to reflect on different aspects of the pandemic — both serious and not. You can read some of those reflections here.

While we reflect on one last issue, the Editorial Board has come up with a list of things that helped us weather the storm that was 2020. In a year like no other, these were our saving graces:


2020 was the year of Netflix and chill — literally. There is no way our sanity would still be intact if it weren't for Netflix. From Tiger King and Emily in Paris to The Queen's Gambit, Netflix original shows marked chapters of the pandemic this year. (Wait, Tiger King was THIS YEAR?) 

Whether you're binging the classics or discovering new favorites, watching Netflix in bed at all times of the day is the perfect escape from reality. And yes, we are still watching. If you need us, well ... don't. 


Masks have become a part of our lives this year, and any reflection on 2020 would be incomplete without them. While there was a point when we were told NOT to wear masks, things fortunately moved in the right direction. They protect us from COVID-19. They let us hide in plain sight. Though we still have to avoid the dreaded anti-maskers, masks and other face coverings have become an inextricable part of 2020. Who knows? Maybe the trend will stick around post-pandemic.

Zoom and other video conferencing apps.

Just like masks, online video conferencing apps, such as Zoom, have become intertwined in our daily lives. Virtual school, virtual work, virtual dates, virtual holidays — so much of our lives is now shared on these platforms. We have experienced every technical issue imaginable and faced the most awkward silences on Zoom. And let’s be real, there is nothing more freeing than turning off your camera and vibing in peace.

The outdoors.

While we were forced to stay indoors to combat the virus, it was the small moments spent outdoors that kept us sane this year. From daily walks to socially distanced gatherings in parks, a moment of fresh air was often the highlight of our day. Though the coldest parts of the year are still to come (hello, seasonal depression!), the past 10 months would not have been possible without a little sunshine.


Where would we be without pass/fail? The University's pass/fail grading accommodations provided the security blanket we all needed while dealing with the pandemic, the election and everything else that 2020 threw our way. It wasn't perfect, but it helped, at least a little bit. This year was hard enough — imagine if we still had to worry about our GPAs, too.

Small businesses. 

From Linda's Bar & Grill to our beloved Cosmic Cantina, local restaurants and other small businesses were the lifeblood of 2020. Though these businesses have been counting on their customers to stay afloat during the pandemic, we needed them just as much (if not more). How could we survive a year like 2020 without loaded tots? 

Life hack: "I'm just supporting my local businesses!" is the perfect justification for getting takeout from Linda's twice in one week.


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