New Year resolutions are a common practice. It is completely normal to feel the need to set them. After all, it is rather unlikely to accomplish a goal you never even set in the first place. They start out strong in January and by February; many of us are still resolute on achieving them. By March the fire is slowly starting to dim. Life begins to take its course and by April, many of these resolutions have slowly fizzled out.

By nature, I am quite adventurous with my goal-setting. I am inclined to set numerous goals ranging from fitness to academics, to family, religion, and life in general, maybe even to changing my eating habits, who knows. But at the start of 2020, I did not feel the need to go down that route. I am not sure why, but my heart was set on one particular goal that towered over all others.

It was simple and clear as day. It was marred by massive failure for those who had gone before me. It, my friends, is known as the dreaded bar exam. Many have fallen victim to it, from former first lady Michelle Obama to former heads of state John .F. Kennedy and Franklin .D. Roosevelt, and even former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. If such notable personalities could fall to this giant, I heavily questioned my own prospects but quickly found solace in the fact that they had each gone on to establish successful careers. After all, a little hope never hurts.

Being fully aware and quite honestly, highly intimidated by the task before me, I developed a plan. The plan was quite elaborate involving sleepless nights and excessive hours at the library. It was probably not the wisest decision for my mental well-being, but I had resolved to do all that was in my power before facing the giant later on in that year, or so I thought. I put on my big girl pants and got down to business. It was going quite well actually, I was surpassing my own expectations. For once in my life I had the drive and the ambition. I was going full speed ahead with my plan, almost burning out every now and then, until one day, life as I knew it came to an abrupt stop.

There had been a buzz around it for a few months, but it was only until the global death toll began to rise that governments began to take notice. Still, the people’s attitude towards it was quite lax, some were even completely unbothered. They went about their business as if there was no looming threat to life. Social distancing was a foreign concept to them and they neither saw its need nor its urgency. There is something to be said about issues of a global nature and the African continent’s perception of it. It almost always seems to be very far from us, until, of course, we begin to experience its effects on our soil.

This time, however, something was different. White collar jobs began to slowly shift from the office to people’s homes. Travel was limited, curfews were gradually being put into place, restaurants, movie theaters, markets, shops, life as we knew it was slowly coming to a standstill. No more warm hugs with friends and in some cases family, not even awkwardly firm handshakes with bosses and workmates. Stay home was the phrase on everyone’s lips.

In the rare occurrence that I went out, the air was one of anxiety and the strong smell of sanitizer. People were scared of each other, but they were even more scared of the interruption caused by the pandemic to their daily lives. Everything slowed down. I had nowhere to apply my new found drive since the only goal I had intended to pursue this year, was disrupted. I no longer had control and that was a painful yet enlightening pill to swallow. I often wondered to myself, what next?

Christine Sumi

Strathmore Law School Alumna.