Anasthasia Shilov

If the advent of 2020 was roaring, I must have missed it. On New Year’s Eve 2019, I was in my bed, defeated by the flu my brother had so kindly passed on to me. I had refused to get my flu shot or its nasal spray equivalent. So obviously I had to spend this monumental New Year’s feeling sorry for myself. Instead of enjoying food and booze with my friends, I huddled in my room, forced to listen to my parents downstairs having a small party with their adult friends. Even if I had wanted to leave the room, I would have been too scared to brave the small talk.

To pass the time until the new decade began, I did a little reflecting. Over winter break, I bought myself one of those fancy notebooks, the kind that has a removable cover that separates from the pages inside. It was a serious looking notebook — soft purple cover and an off-white lined refill pad — perfect for my intentions to begin 2020 as a “serious” adult. It was definitely a splurge but ultimately a worthwhile purchase because this would be my resolutions book. Not wanting to spoil the book, I set myself some guidelines: on the first page, I would write out my resolutions in three colors of highlighter. After each I would draw a black square for me to tick off each resolution as I achieved my goals systematically. And the rest of the pages? Obviously for my gratitude list. I downloaded the latest one-second-a-day app and settled down to writing:

– Get Strong

– Teach yourself Spanish. And Japanese.

– Learn the splits

– Be nice?

– Stop procrastinating

– Try TikTok

– Figure out Billie Eilish

– Learn social media influencing

– Veganuary

– Dry January: with exceptions 😉

– Become a reiki master

Admittedly, these resolutions are filtered as I scribbled out most of the word vomit I came up with in my flu-ridden haze. I hope to expand on them with more worthwhile skills and service based resolutions in the coming weeks. But are these distinctly 2020 resolutions? Are they sickeningly “millennial”?

Following this train of thought, I started to google resolutions in 1919. It turns out that at least in this sense, not too much has changed. Apparently there was also a distinct smell of alcohol in Times Square on New Years Eve 1919 as people rushed to get their hands on booze before prohibition entered full swing. Actually, one hundred years ago, people were distinctly braver and published their resolutions in newspapers. They proclaimed intentions to become a better person, “recommit to God,” swear off vices like using “foul language” or “kissing other men’s girls.” In many ways, not much has changed.

But if the 1920s were popping off, can we hope for a roaring 2020s? What will this sexily symmetrical year bring? Maybe you missed it because you were wrestling your way into that anthropology seminar or gushing over how perfectly “emotionally” placed you are to take Attraction and Relationships. It’s barely two weeks into the new decade but already a lot has happened. In an attempt to distract myself from shopping period, I did a little more googling. Here is what I found: In world politics, it has not been great. DJT was trigger happy with General Soleimani. Iran shot down a Ukrainian airliner and lied about it. California is the fifth largest economy in the world. Australia is consumed by bushfires. The most googled things in 2019: Disney Plus, Jussie Smollett, “What is Brexit?,” “What is a VSCO girl?”

The search was becoming increasingly depressing, not to mention embarrassing, when I came to the real news. Disclaimer: research was conducted whilst still in the U.K. and the British media has a very narrow interest, namely Brexit and the royal family. For the first two weeks of 2020, it was impossible to escape Harry and Meghan’s decision to step back as royals. #Sussexit. In a distinctly “modern” move, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced their intentions to step back as senior royals. Tired of the strict rules surrounding being a royal, Harry and Meghan will sever their dependance on the royal coffers and seek their own American dream. Of course the Queen was dreadfully disappointed: it was Wallis Simpson all over again. The classic American (or Canadian) divorcée beguiling Britain’s treasured ginger and stealing him away. Personally, I am impressed. Powerful female flips off royals, makes prince leave his imperial throne and saves small island millions of tax dollars.

It’s odd to think what will characterise the 2020s, to begin fragmenting our lives into decades that we hope will be distinctly different — not to mention guide us towards the road to better futures. If you think too hard about it, it’s difficult to get beyond a sense of why we are so self destructive … Maybe the sound of the 2020s are Queen Elizabeth’s tears. But to end on a positive note, maybe #Sussexit can reflect the tone of the coming decade. I’ll rewrite my resolutions. Meghan, I wish to channel your energy in 2020.

Alexa Stanger | alexa.stanger@yale.edu