What a year

(Courtesy of Victoria Silman)

VOLITION

Mahdis Habibinia, Editor-in-Chief

Ernest Hemmingway apparently said, “Courage is grace under pressure.” Well, I’m not sure how gracefully I handled some of the curve balls that life threw my way this past year, but I know it was a great learning opportunity for me. My biggest hurdle was coming face-to-face with my own flaws, weaknesses, and limitations. People, including myself, often think of those concepts as frailties, an Achilles’ heel. But I’ve learnt to view pressure and conflict as opportunities, rather than obstacles, to sculpt my character. It’s easy to be polite, righteous, rational, and courageous when you’re in a good mood — it requires minimal effort. To me, there’s nothing overly admirable about that. It’s when you’re angry or facing hurdles that your choice in behaviour matters because it requires volition — something that defines your character to the core. I went through periods of self-doubt, frustration, stress, emotional turmoil … only to realize that resiliency also isn’t determined by how “untouched” you walk away from a situation, but by how much you can take and to keep moving forward. (Thank you, Rocky!) Afterall, climbing a mountain can’t be done without a couple of scrapes and bruises along the way.

BREATHE

Victoria Silman, Managing Editor

As an extroverted person who spends much of my time travelling, I’m sure you can imagine this year has driven me crazy. I hate being cooped up at home, moving from bed to computer day-in and day-out. I could curse this past year, but it also has given me a reality check on what is truly important. The first is the importance of staying in touch with those we love, including our friends and family, but the second is also staying in touch with ourselves. Over the past 12 months, I have honed in on the importance of setting time aside to do something just for myself. I won’t lie, I haven’t read as much as I’d like to, but I have dabbled in yoga, brushing up on my gourmet cooking, and spending time outdoors basking in the sun (the latter of which I begrudgingly haven’t been able to partake in for months). Despite the struggles with finding work, battling seasonal depression, and the loneliness that comes with lockdowns, taking the time to breathe, relax, and enjoy the moment has helped me through the hardest parts of this year. We really do need to stop and smell the roses sometimes. 

PERSEVERE

Jonathan Q. Hoidn, Copy Editor

How do I describe 2020 and 2021 (so far) without using obscene language? It’s the question of the decade and unfortunately I don’t have the answer. It’s been an era of isolation, an era of inconvenience, and an era of loss. We’ve seen Black people murdered by “protectors of the peace,” an overzealous Cheeto — I mean president— dethroned, and an unprecedented rise in stupidity from the human race since mandating the use of masks to protect ourselves and others is apparently a violation of rights.

There’s no easy way to tell you this, but the world did end in 2012 — we’re just living in a nightmare.

Personally, yeah, the year kinda sucked. I missed out on a number of opportunities thanks to the pandemic, and it’s even put my post-graduate education on hold. My grades have taken a nosedive and my mental health has escalated to the next level — so yeah, the year kinda sucked. 

If I’m being honest, I don’t have a straight answer as to how I overcame my problems because it’s still a work-in-progress. I’m limited on words so I’ll give you some surface-level words of wisdom from your old pal Johnny: don’t give up. Perseverance is the name of the game, and there’s only one rule to the game: don’t give up. 

Also, check out Shia LaBeouf’s motivational speech.

THE TANGERINE METHOD

Sakeina Syed, News Editor

When I took calculus in high school, the only way I could force myself to make it through pages and pages of practice questions was through strange incentives. I would gleefully peel apart a tangerine and then place a segment between each page of my math notebook: a damp orange reward I could only earn if I ground through a few more questions. Genius, right? Not so much — I spent more time peeling fruit than doing homework, and the tangerine method didn’t do much for my calculus grade. However, it has been instrumental in pushing through what might otherwise feel like endless months of this pandemic. 

Doing my job, my schoolwork, and my interactions with others all in one place — my laptop screen — is a recipe for burnout. Pre-pandemic, these activities would have been a chattering whirl of commuting and socializing and physically moving from place to place. Now, it’s become a dull monotone of eye-straining blue light and Zoom calls that never conclude. Success and failure begin to blend together, and everything seems less meaningful with no change to bookend it. Eventually, you begin to wonder: what’s the point?

Enter the tangerine method. Now, my “orange segments” are relatively mundane deviations from the monotony of my schedule, tiny rewards to break up the day. If I finish my paper, I get to take a walk. If I pay attention in class, I deserve to watch an episode of The Legend of Korra. If I finish an exam, maybe I get to buy a scented candle. The rewards don’t need to cost money, and they don’t need to be tied to traditional metrics of success. It’s just about getting through something that you find tough. 

Sometimes when life gives us lemons, I think we deserve to give ourselves a tangerine. 

FILM

Sarah Garofalo, Assistant News Editor

Is most of my personality built around my love for film? Yes. As a full-time film student and full-time movie lover, the pandemic has fully shifted how I’ve gotten to view and experience my favourite cinematic worlds. Pre-pandemic, every week I found myself at some form of screening, performance, or viewing party; they always brought me the most joy against the often-times dreary reality of work and school. It’s been over a year since I’ve stepped foot into a theatre — or even hung out in a friend’s basement, half-assedly watching whatever B-horror film we found in the bowels of the internet — and it’s made me rethink the limitations of how we ingest art in any form. (Side note: Technically the last movie I watched in theatres was Cats… and I regret nothing.)

Film courses have been admittedly a little difficult to adjust to in an online format — watching The Matrix in class on a Tuesday afternoon with the sun blaring outside my window really just doesn’t pack the same punch. But the pandemic has given us the chance to be a little more imaginative with our cinematic endeavours, if you will. From drive-ins to Netflix Party, the pandemic has helped me resolve a bit of my big-screen addiction. Not everyone has access to theatres, internet, or even film in general — and it’s reminded me how lucky I am to be studying what I am and where I am. It’s also made me recognize that even in viewing on the crappiest of laptops (and wow is mine crappy) you can still find joy in watching the cinematic worlds where you dream to be.

ACCOMPLISHMENT AND INDULGENCE

Shivam Sachdeva, Health Editor

It feels like just yesterday York was sending us emails informing us that on-campus activities would be shut down until further notice, while we all enjoyed our newfound time off and immersed ourselves in Tiger King episodes. Fast forward a year, and we find ourselves in the midst of another lockdown as yet another semester of school winds down. The last year presented me with challenges such as low motivation, a lack of direction, and just plain boredom! Addressing these issues was not easy, especially when days seem to blend into each other and laziness feels like it has no consequence. But I knew I had to change something before my bad habits became a daily routine. I began making a schedule for my days to add a sense of purpose and more activity to fill up my time. By knowing that I had something to look forward to each day, and continuously completing tasks — no matter how small — I’ve been able to keep my mind occupied and give myself the satisfaction that at least something was accomplished during the day. 

Juxtaposing the last tip, another big key I discovered during this isolated period is to allow yourself to indulge guilt-free. In a time where hustle culture haunts us all, sometimes the most productive thing you can do is take a break. There’s nothing wrong with watching that extra episode or eating one more cookie or even sleeping in a few extra hours, as long as you keep it all in moderation. 

When so much feels like it is out of our hands, the best thing we can do to feel empowered is to take charge of the things we can control. 

APPRECIATIVE

Sydney Ewert, Arts Editor

This past year has instigated a shift in my personal life and how I take care of myself. I began to appreciate the little things and to take my time enjoying my days upon suddenly having an unfathomable amount of free time. There were (and still are) so many social justice issues coming to light, not to mention people around the globe losing their health (mental health included) or their loved ones. The world seemed uneasy. I began to look for joy in my daily activities. The simplicity of a warm cup of tea, a walk in the sunshine, or enjoying a book that I never had the time to pick up. These daily appreciations provided me with feelings of satisfaction and delight that the events of 2020 seemed to dampen for many. I feel more connected to myself and my surroundings than I ever have before. Amidst chaos, actively searching for these quiet and personal moments has provided me with a mindful practice. Even if this is the only thing that I take away from this past year, I’m really proud of that.

GRATITUDE

Bhabna Banerjee, Creative Director

The past year has been quite different — as much as my personal struggles of being a 2020 graduate weren’t quite so trivial, to me they seemed as if they were. This year gave me a new set of priorities (one that doesn’t list immediately getting a job within a month of graduation at the very top). In the middle of a global pandemic, riots, protests, natural disasters, terrorist attacks and what felt like the world collapsing and a revolution at the same time, I found empathy and gratitude. Seeing daily stories of victims — someone who lost their mother to a mass shooting, owners of closed businesses, families experiencing multiple losses at the hands of the pandemic — my heart broke every time I’d come across these stories. People were living their worst nightmare; I was just grateful to be okay.

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