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Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

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What NOT to Leave in 2020


Happy New Year! Many of us were over 2020 around July and eager to usher in a new year. But as our resolutions are refreshed and we forge ahead with plans for 2021, there are a few things I think we should hold on to.

1. Slowing down. Regardless of where we find ourselves along the spectrum – employed or seeking; married, single or somewhere in between; surrounded by family or far from loved ones – 2020 forced us to slow down. The initial slowing down seemed to be welcomed by most. However, as the weeks and months of the pandemic continued, many became anxious and were ready to re-engage or go back to their previous lives. But I think there were some lessons in reevaluating our pace. Some of us live with abandon resulting in long work hours, little sleep, poor diets, and no exercise. The pandemic invited us to consider what it means to retain some of the slower pace, the ease of a lazy day, and quality time with friends, as well as family.

2. Quality over quantity. Prior to the pandemic, I would interact with close to 100 people directly and indirectly on a given day. While most often these interactions were invigorating, they could also be exhausting. A countless number of meetings, conference calls, text messages, and social gatherings left me longing for solitude. The pandemic welcomed an opportunity to evaluate not only how we spend our days, but who we spend them with. Perhaps we recklessly agreed to social gatherings or scheduled a meeting without thinking twice. The pandemic gave us a chance – albeit unwelcomed – to carefully consider how we regard quality time. Even as I was distanced from loved ones, it helped me appreciate my time with them so much more and be less likely to take these occurrences for granted.

3. Evaluating our dollars. How many times do we put an extra item in the shopping cart because it caught our eye? Or ordered take-out two nights in a row? Or splurged on some other indulgence without a second thought. During the pandemic, many of us had to re-evaluate our expenses in preparation for a range of “what ifs.” What if I lose my job? What if I don’t receive a raise this year or in the next few years to come? What if I am unable to earn residual income? The pandemic invited us to be more conscious consumers and monitor our spending habits more diligently.

I don’t know if anyone will say this pandemic was pleasant. But I have learned to seek new opportunities even in the midst of an extremely challenging and prolonged season. These are but a few things I’d like to take into and throughout 2021 with me. Do you have others?

* Dr. Sabrina T. Cherry is an Assistant Professor of Public Health, UNC Wilmington. You can read more about her work at

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