I'm struggling to put together the words to describe where I find myself as I sit down before this blank screen. This haziness, or fuzziness, is why I want to continue as it feels truer than merely a narcissistic indulgence. I wonder if we're all not in a certain grey space? We are weary from a year that has held no punches, saddened by 9/11-every-day death rates, disgust for a government standing by idly, excited for a holiday with a limited friend group or family members, and the rebellious hope of a better new year.

It is confusing and crushing to contemplate and explore the depths of our present reality. In many ways, I hope that these are my words and that you do not resonate with them. Yet, while the holidays are often stressful and weighty for many, including myself, this year seems to carry a unique heft with it.

This year, this little eternity, that we call 2020 has been too much. And yet it continues to persist. It takes and takes—relentlessly. It's as if the mouth of Sheol opened up this past January.

Yet, this sadist, this shitshow of a year hasn't merely taken from us. I have found gratitude in surprising ways. To evoke Rihanna, we found [gratitude] in a hopeless place.

If you are like me, kicking and screaming, this year has given us the gift of slowing down. Of course, it is a choice, but I noticed that it became increasingly futile during lockdown to press on at a semblance of my default breakneck pace. I wore down and succumbed to a pace that is more conducive to self-awareness and mindfulness—human.

In a way, this year has given us time or at least the space to feel like we have more disposable, to borrow an economic term, time. Many of us explored new or old hobbies. I finally established a meditative practice—the one that I had been desiring to cultivate for the past few years.

Along similar lines, we have been more intentional in reaching out to friends and loved ones. In many ways, we were actually forced to do so during the lockdown. Still, arriving on the precipice of winter and rampant infection rates, many of us choose consciously to continue reaching out and connecting with our humans. I think I'm finally willing to explore the idea of connection and engage in my relationships as if they were water or air—vital for my wellbeing and survival.

Social media is a minefield, but I and many others have seen how useful and necessary these days it can foster relationships and even make new ones. I have certainly experienced the latter, and it still surprises the shit out of me.

We have seen the beginnings of a nation awaking from its near-eternal whitewashed daydream. Systemic inequality and oppression came to the fore this summer, and I believe that we are still having conversations about it, though at a lower volume, if you will. Far fewer of us are still asleep to the inequality and oppression encoded in our society—I'll take it for now.

We have also seen the "essential" people in our economy, and many of us confronted the fallacy of economic scarcity. Yes, resources are limited, but opportunity is not. We noted how these essential people are simply not paid enough, and many did something about it. So many of us learned that collaboration is more powerful than competition. Seeing this has been profound.

On a more personal note, I've had the opportunity to focus more on my mental health this year. It's humbling to realize anew that the more I discover, the more I find there is yet to discover. So, I'm also glad that I had the support and nudges to get back into therapy.

Finally, I'm grateful to have been able to finish my grad degree this year. I was doubtful, to say the least, one year ago when I decided to double my course load—I didn't think I would be able to make it happen. I feel incredibly provided for by the Universe in this area.

I wasn't intending on writing a gratitude journal entry for y'all, but I'm thankful that I did. It's been one hellscape of a year for all of us. Yet, these twelve months have not been without their gifts, both subtle and grand. This holiday season has been particularly challenging and conflicting—I feel this viscerally. However, each of us has at least something for which to be grateful. What's that for you?