2020 was supposed to be the year, or at least many my age had hoped. As the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve, amid all the hugging and kissing (before this became a faux pas), we whispered our silent mantras and hopes for the upcoming year. This is the year you get that promotion. This is the year you travel the world. This is the year you meet the one. This is the year — because it must be, right?

I told myself that 2020 would be my breakout year. As both a music journalist and band manager, I planned to hone in on my career more than ever before. I wanted to turn my pipe dreams of interviewing high-profile artists and touring the world into attainable goals. Using 2019’s forward momentum as my propeller, I was ready to give it my all.

Boy, was I wrong. A little over two months later, the world as we knew it hit “pause.” Parents now worried about what to do with their kids out of school. Renters wondered how they would pay their landlords. Restaurants and bars questioned whether they were locking their doors for the last time. 2020 was no longer about striving, but rather surviving.

Nine months since the first wave, the world has yet to resume “play.” The experts are trying to get us to cope with the idea that we may never hit “play” again as they try to familiarize us with the term “new normal.” While this may very well be life going forward, accepting it won’t make us feel any better about it. We miss the old normal.

As government officials ask that citizens keep their physical distance from one another, they don’t explicitly state that side effects may include emotional distance. If you had told me in any other year that I’d go more than nine months without seeing or speaking to some of my closest friends, I wouldn’t have believed you.

Don’t get me wrong, quarantine hasn’t been all bad. As an extrovert, the idea of wasting months cooped up indoors with little to no contact with the outside world seemed claustrophobic to me, but I’ve made my peace with it. I do feel more content spending time alone now. What I worry most is how the pandemic will affect the relationships and networks that we have spent so long trying to build.

“What’s up?” seems like a useless question to ask in a time when most of our daily lives are driven by an endless loop of mundane routine. Waking up, working or schooling from home, eating dinner, unwinding at night, going to bed. Repeat. What results is the lack of motivation to even reach out. To ask friends what’s new. To start up a conversation you predict to be pointless. After all, it’s not like we can even meet to catch up. In-person encounters are either frowned upon or downright illegal, depending where you live. It’s simply not worth the risk, nor the chore.

As life now seems to exist solely online, so too does my career as a music journalist. Concerts are now called “live streams.” Networking in the green room is a thing of the past. Interviews take place through Zoom. The career I chose is now devoid of all my favourite parts — unrestrained and spontaneous human interaction.

Yet, there must be a silver lining. To believe otherwise would be dangerously pessimistic.

My main hope for when this is all over is that we become more empathetic toward one another. The collective trauma that we have all endured should bring us closer together, not push us apart. We should be more appreciative of the little things, those we took for granted — holidays spent with family, live music, a cold beer on a bar top, to name a few. We should listen more. We should say “yes” more.

Above all, we should strive to connect more. In person, that is. I, for one, am sick of Zooming.

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