Welcome to the start of something new! We’ve got a lot riding on 2021. We’ve welcomed a new President and Madame Vice President. Modern science is taking its place at the top of our political leadership. And 2020 is officially over. We know the passage of the new year is largely ceremonial, but it feels so good. After all, 2020 was historic. It changed us. It challenged us. And it will probably make us cringe for a little while longer. But 2021? It’s still fresh, filled with potential and brimming with hope. After so much sorrow and anxiety in a year beset by unrest and anxiety, we’re ready to feel optimistic again. Here are 21 reasons to be joyful this year.
1. An End to 2020
Alright...this one is a “gimme.” But we’re still happy that the twelve months that brought us forced homeschooling, the toilet paper-crisis, an alarming number of deaths and global unrest is behind us. Obviously, we still have work to do, but we’re feeling a fresh surge of optimism heading into the new year.
2. Change in Administration – and a Woman in the White House!
This week, our nation welcomed the 46th president of the United States, Joe Biden. With this change, we have the opportunity to usher in new ideas, more diversity and inclusion and goals designed to shake up the status quo. Regardless of political affiliation, big changes lead to innovation. Not to mention a woman in the White House is an historic and inspiring moment! With Madam Vice President Kamala Harris at the helm, finally little girls of color across the country have a leader in command who looks like they do.
3. A Vaccine!
The fact that modern medicine has churned out an mRNA vaccine that allows our bodies to fight COVID-19 in less than a year is a modern miracle of scientific innovation. Piggy-backing on 25 years of genetic research, this type of science proves how collaboration in this community can achieve breakthroughs in record time. This is literal lightning in a bottle.
3. Actually...Several Vaccines!
Not only do we have one manufacturer working night and day to produce world-wide supply of a vaccine to inoculate the public against a disease that—overnight—brought society to its knees, up to nine pharma companies are working to deliver safe options to the public and reduce public concerns of health risks at the same time.
4. mRNA Research Advancement
Immunotherapy research is having a moment as all eyes are on the COVID-19 vaccine. As more people witness the power of this science and research, more funds are being allocated to help researchers discover new ways to fight cancer. This could be a big year for cancer treatment and innovative new technologies leading the way.
6. The Elevation of Science
Speaking of leading, the Office of Science Advisor has been promoted to a Presidential Cabinet position in 2021. The new role is being filled by Eric Lander, a pioneer in genetics research.
7. So Much Sourdough
We have been passing the time at home picking up the oddest skills this past year. From sourdough starters to making cheesecake...our social media feeds were full of DIY projects. Now, we’re just looking forward to sharing the fruits of our labor in person!
8. Seeds, Plants, and Growth
Maybe it’s the time of year, but we can’t wait for the seasons to turn and see new growth and life literally spring from the ground. All our hard work, all our patience, feels like little seeds growing in the dark, deep earth just waiting to burst forth into the light. It’s a metaphor, sure, but we’re also just filled with joy watching our gardens start to sprout new life after a long winter.
9. Our Friends’ Weddings
We all have friends and family who had to postpone joyful celebrations and gatherings last year when the stay-at-home orders went into effect. When the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic settled in months and months later, some plans were put on hold indefinitely. Social isolation was the price we’ve paid to protect the immunocompromised and to stop the spread of this tragic disease. But with a new vaccine and hope on the horizon, we can almost smell the fresh flowers of bouquets and boutonnieres, our feet are tapping, and we have visions of toasting the life-long happiness of loved ones, together, soon.
It’s not just the trips that we miss. It’s the build-up to the excursions that brings us joy. Not to mention the people we’ve been separated from for too long. We’re looking forward to packing bags, planning itinerary, bringing something fun to wear, painted toes for sandy beaches, meet-ups with local friends and yes, hugs with loved ones, and the list goes on! It may not be soon, but we will fly the friendly skies again, even if just for work.
11. (Not) Returning to Complete Normalcy
We miss a sense of normalcy, probably because we’re creatures of habit and routine makes us happy. But we also know that we’ve been handed an opportunity to redefine “normal.” We’ve established new remote and flexible working arrangements that may work better for families and those of us going through treatments. Some of us have been able to relocate closer to our support systems and loved ones, while others have been able to explore and adjust their surroundings. Our options have expanded, and our world looks different now.
12. Wearing Shoes Again
We promise we’ve been wearing pants on all of our video calls, but it’s been slippers for about eight months now. Full disclosure: pulling out business suit and wearing some fancy shoes to the office would feel pretty refreshing right now.
13. Dusting off our Wardrobe
Loungewear will always be our first love, but we appreciate it more when we’re not constantly in sweatpants. Every so often, we have a craving to dress up fancy-like, put on a few jewels and remind our loved ones (and ourselves!) that we’ve still “got it.”
As we learned more about COVID-19, we came to the sad realization that singing can spread the disease and has been linked to super-spreader events. This is particularly unsettling as music is known for its powerful mood-boosting benefits and group bonding potential. Simply put: music is good for society. Not only are concerts, festivals, and other live theatre events a possibility for 2021, the events of 2020 will likely introduce more safety measures.
15. The Little Things
We miss all those little things that once didn’t seem so important. Things like the smell of popcorn and getting to the theatre early enough to catch the trailers. Or riding in cars together, animated dinner parties with comrades new and old and seeing our friends’ faces up close. We’ve now learned that these intimate moments are the morsels that give life much of its heart and meaning.
16. Time to Ourselves
We’re grateful to have had more time with our kids, all under one roof. We promise. But, oh! Just to have a moment when we’re not doing all the things at once with nowhere to hide from the near constant company of our quarantine partners. #purejoy
17. Group Exercise
Let’s be honest. It’s a whole lot easier to cheat our workouts when no one else is watching. Self-discipline is great. But we miss our trainers. Dare we say it, we actually yearn to be held accountable in fitness. We are going to be overjoyed to have our butts kicked in class this year.
18. Charity Events
Kudos to our friends and countless organizations for finding new ways to move events online last year. We hope this is always an option, yet we’re also looking forward to hitting up that 5K in person, volunteering at a physical booth and shopping our favorite storefronts again soon. Experiencing the giving and gratitude first-hand is far better than doing some remotely.
19. More Mind-blowing Astronomical Events
Saturn and Jupiter visible with binoculars? Something about a planetary transit that didn’t have to do with predicting our horoscope? Yes, please! Watching the sky for fun events like a total eclipse or meteor shower is fun, free, and is still practical when we’re practicing social distancing. 2021 is going to be a big year for planetary events and star-watchers, too.
It feels like we skipped right over the holidays last year, birthdays included, while the days and weeks blended into each other. Not knowing what day it was became a theme, and weekends lost their edge, too. This year we can’t wait to make a big, silly deal even, about our friends’ birthdays, throw wild bashes for the holidays and visit loved ones for seasonal get-togethers.
21. Herd Immunity
Reaching herd immunity, when enough of the population has been vaccinated against COVID-19 to stop the spread, may seem daunting. But, we’ve done it before. America reached herd immunity with measles, which is believed to be more contagious than COVID-19. Now, with multiple promising vaccines being manufactured and distributed, the possibility exists again. This would protect those among the population too weak or at high-risk from reaction to the vaccine.
“The world is terrified of joyful women. Make a stand. Be one anyway.” – Marianne Williamson