In 2016, when people asked “What’s the worst that could happen?” if then-candidate Donald Trump was elected, I thought non-stop drama, pettiness from the commander-in-chief, scandal, etc. Never in a million years, did I think “more than 318,000 dead” (including my own loved ones), businesses being shuttered, food bank lines running for miles and lives uprooted in ways we could never imagine. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming Trump for the pandemic, but his leadership (or lack thereof) has exacerbated this pandemic and altered the course of so many lives. 

The still-raging pandemic has many of us hesitant to look ahead. But that’s just what we need to do. There is a reason the front mirror is bigger than the rear view mirror. Because while we need to be cognizant of what’s behind us, our true vision lies in what’s ahead. 

While the absence of an awful 2020 is not enough to make 2021 a good year, we need not just a respite from the heavy weight put upon us by the pandemic but the promise of actual joy.

Fortunately, there are plenty of things to look forward to next year, and not just the return of, well, everything. At some point, sports, culture, travel, in-person get-togethers with the people you love and care about will hopefully all make a comeback. Though we’re eagerly anticipating all that, 2021 should have a lot more going for it than just the promise of a return to normalcy. It’s true that we have lost something —f ailure to recognize this would be some form of extreme denial. But we still have a job to do. And looking back will not get us to where we need to go.

It is possible for us to grow stronger through this challenging time. To be forced to dig deep inside ourselves and uncover that hidden wellspring of resilience — that ability to rise in the face of an obstacle. Hopefully a new (and thankfully, boring administration) will get us back on the right path. And we can address the myriad of issues facing Americans, from the coronavirus to social injustice to police reform. 

Hopefully, 2021 brings a better, brighter year for us all. Let’s look forward, and know that no matter how long it takes to turn around (and even if it doesn’t) we gon’ be alright. Resilience is in our DNA.