Who Are You in 2021?

Understanding the social and personal disruption of 2020

Illustration by Piya Willwerth

We are here, in the future.

I don’t suppose it’s possible to recap everything on this site in one paragraph, but I’ll give it a shot: part of my whole mission right now is about convincing people that now, post-2020, is a particularly good time to try something new. It’s the whole pattern interruption thing. This feeling won’t last, although I’m guessing it’ll last longer than I had initially expected it to. (Along with everything else …)

Something about the strangeness and tension of the pandemic seems to have prompted some people to shake up their lives.

Changing a trait requires acting in ways that embody that trait, rather than simply thinking about it. As Richard Wiseman, a psychology professor at the University of Hertfordshire, put it in “The As If Principle,” you can behave “as if” you are the person you want to be. Pretty soon, you might find that it is you.

Olga Khazan, The New York Times

At first glance, you could say this is classic “fake it ’til you make it” reasoning. But you could also put it another way: if, by deciding internally that you are a “certain way,” you subsequently bring about change externally and in your life. You’re really bringing up the outside to match the inside — as opposed to the other way around.


One of the most exciting things that have happened this year has been seeing my friends pursue their dreams. While it’s been sad to see many of them leave the city, they left because they knew that their destiny lay elsewhere.

One friend had spoken for years about moving to New York. It was a big move, everyone agreed. And New York is so expensive! But this year, they finally did it.

Another friend went back to her hometown after nearly ten years in Chicago. She had realized that her place was closer to her family. An artist friend left for the desert, to paint in peace. Another friend moved to a more rural area to figure out what she wanted to do. And yet another friend got married and left the country!

Not everyone has left — some are making other forward strides in their lives, such as launching a new refugee program, attending a bootcamp, or even just getting their driver’s license. Still others are making decisions about where they want to move to (I’m in this camp).

We’ve all been so used to sleepwalking through life that getting all of this information and disruption at once will take a not-insignificant amount of time to process. And who knows … maybe this disruption is just where we live now?

Last Friday, a protest made up of many individuals walked down my street, past my window. Last summer, people who never thought they would participate in a protest found themselves tracking police scanners and buying safety goggles. There are lots of things that we do now, or things that we feel now, that were unimaginable on New Year’s Eve, 2020.

Through painful isolation, this past year has, perversely, revealed the value of friendships and social ties. For those who want to renew connections that have atrophied, solidify friendships that have migrated to Zoom, or otherwise live differently, it’s very possible to do so. Remember that your personality is more like a sand dune than a stone.

Olga Khazan, The New York Times

We’re all getting through this together … but we should ask ourselves, what can we do to be better? Who are we now? Are you who you want to be?

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