A year of change: expectations vs reality 2020

by Nov 20, 2020

When every year commences, I have high hopes of what I would like to achieve. I don’t write a list of New Year’s resolutions or anything, but I do have a general agreement with myself on how I see my year progressing. If someone had told me that 2020 would bring with it a slew of unprecedented situations caused by a global pandemic, our most potent defenses against which is staying away from people and washing our hands (turns out a lot of people don’t – gross), I would have laughed.  

But here we are in 2020, wearing face masks, social distancing, bathing in hand sanitiser, fumbling our way through online etiquette for Zoom meetings, and – if you’re like me – questioning what really matters in my life and if I we’re doing it right. 

If I had to summarise my experience of 2020 in a meme, it would have to be ‘expectations vs. reality’. I love memes, but this one in particular makes me laugh. Here are a few of my favorite for 2020: 




I think this meme applies so well to my life at the moment because it brings me joy, hope, and the understanding that I’m not alone. I think it is best described as this: 

“….the beauty of memes such as “Expectation vs. Reality” lies in their simplicity. They allow us to feel less alone and to seek solace in the fact that, like us, other people recognise the sense of dissonance, disappointment or surprise that comes with realising that something is very different to how you had initially anticipated it would be.” [x]

2020, in a nutshell, am I right?! 


I can’t help but notice the irony present in 2020, particularly in the form of ‘social distancing’. While we all locked ourselves away and became physically distant from each other, we became socially closer. We didn’t have to try to understand what others were experiencing since we were all experiencing the same thing. As Afshan Mohamedali writes in Psychology Today: 

“While we may be physically distanced from others, this shared experience gives rise to an unprecedented level of empathy that keeps us bonded…and to feel even closer, we find ourselves doing more to strengthen this bond.” [x]  


I have heard a lot of people ask, ‘so when will this be over?’ Or ‘when things go back to normal…’ I don’t think life will go back to the way it was pre-covid. While there have been some horrific losses, there have also been some well overdue adaptations as well.  

Zooming in on the world of work specifically (pun intended), while not all jobs can adapt to working remotely, more can than I thought possible. For many people, all or part of their jobs can be translated to online rather than in person. People can even attend international conferences without leaving their homes. For some, this doesn’t seem so attractive, particularly if they like the perk of traveling in their work. But for others, this opens up so many opportunities that they may not have otherwise had access to. 

For those looking to enter the world of work and wanting experience, the pandemic seemingly has put up another barrier to access. Even so, the world is adapting. Employers are now hiring virtual interns to complete virtual internships. To me, this makes sense, as the world of work is currently (more than ever) online and remote, then why not connect, learn and have meaningful interactions in an online internship before entering the world of work online?

As for what 2021 will bring? Who knows! If 2020 has taught me anything, it’s that anything can happen. However, in 2021 there is still a good chance that I will be looking at memes to help me explain my life. 


Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

Rachel Yasmineh

Rachel Yasmineh

Project Manager

Rachel Yasmineh is a Project Manager for UTS Careers. She has been working in Student Engagement in Higher Education for more than a decade. Rachel is dedicated to delivering the best and most valuable university experience to students as they make their journey through university and beyond.