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Sometimes, I feel like 2020 was a waste. It was as if so much went on this year, yet so little happened — sort of in the vein of doing so much but accomplishing so little, though not solely on a work-related basis.
This is completely understandable: the global pandemic upended everything on such an immense scale and so swiftly, too. There’s so much loss to grieve, not only in the lives lost to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) but in life as everyone knew it to be: being able to easily sit in a cafe and journal or people watch, striking up a conversation in person with co-workers, or having spontaneous gatherings with friends and being able to hug them.
This is not even accounting for what it’s like being a Filipino under the Duterte administration: getting death threats from the president himself, hearing of politicians violating quarantine, seeing news of millions of Filipinos suffering because the national government would rather allocate funds to militarization than to social welfare, and the country taking the brunt of the climate crisis spurred on by the global North’s emissions, among others.
I’m no stranger to difficulties in life: I have a debilitating condition called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) that affects me for around two weeks a month, on top of existing conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gastritis, and a predisposition for anxiety. Everything considered, I feel like I have managed myself well personally during the pandemic. I allowed and still allow myself to grieve, but I have also adjusted my expectations and life priorities accordingly. I have practiced self-care and self-kindness during these times as well.
Even with this in mind, this does not erase how upsetting it is that life has been upended. In Filipino or at least Metro Manila retail stores and groceries, cashiers cancel a transaction by telling their managers, “Ma’am/Sir, pa-void.” Likewise, many of us joke that we want 2020 to be voided or cancelled. Life doesn’t work that way, though.
Some say that it is in times of darkness that we find things or people when we need them the most. One such group of people for me this year was BTS. I have engaged in other healthy self-coping mechanisms, but I was having a particularly difficult time dealing with the consecutive typhoons in the Philippines mid-November. After avoiding the fandom for so long, thinking it would distract me, I dove deeply into BTS and found a world of so much color, vibrance, and meaning that would also prove to be instrumental in my healing for more personal matters.
There is no denying that so much misery has been associated with 2020. However, it is also true that there have been these moments of solace and joy: little as they may be, they still spark light and hope. And it is these small pockets of comfort and happiness, such as finding BTS, that help us go on with life.
I would like to thank my younger sister Alyssa and my mom for introducing me to BTS. I would also like to thank Chi, Anica, Cherisse, Erica, Nina, Kat, Tina, and my other friends who have been with me through these difficult times. I would like to thank my psychiatrist Dr. Melissa Mariano and my therapist Ms. Paula Garcia as well for the wonderful professional support and for also encouraging my love for BTS.
— Karen Sison
A Filipino ARMY who found hope in BTS. (Philippines)
Illustration By: Francis @lov3lyg3nius
I’m an interior designer. In drawing design details for construction, we have to add certain hatches (patterns) to components to help represent intent in our drawings. What you see on the right is the standard pattern for concrete. I took this as a symbol that things outside our window that are stable/strong (such as concrete/cement) can still fall apart. This translates to just things or people falling apart in general. Additionally, it also represents the virus because it’s dispersed throughout the air. I wanted it to be in stark contrast with the interior so it has monochrome colors on the right side. In the center, you have an architectural detail of a double pane window with the wall and header surrounding it. Then you pass the detail and see the colorful rendering of an inside room which is representative of ARMY’s room. Even though we are stuck in our rooms and feel hopeless/helpless, we still had and have BTS (and ARMY) to rely on/make us happy/give us hope. Hence why it’s different shades of purple. I added a tinge of orange to symbolize hope/new beginnings.
Sison, K. (2021). 2020 in other 2ords. The Rhizomatic Revolution Review , (2). https://ther3journal.com/issue-2/2020-in-other-words
Sison, Karen. “2020 in Other Words.” The Rhizomatic Revolution Review , no. 2, 2021. https://ther3journal.com/issue-2/2020-in-other-words.
2020 in Other Words by Karen Sison is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
© Karen Sison 2021