Teens and young adults reflect on lessons from 2020 to move forward in 2021

Following 2020, Millennials and Gen Zs are drained, yet driven to live with more intention in the new year. They are entering 2021 with many lessons learned from their hardships, and are feeling hopeful for the future. Young people told Cassandra how they are transitioning from 2020 to 2021, how they define a “fresh start,” and whether or not they made resolutions for the year ahead. The insights below are based on digital discussions with our Cassandra Collective members from the last few weeks.


Young adults have a lot to say about the year they just went through, as well as what they are looking forward to in the year ahead. Millennials and Gen Zs are “cautiously optimistic” and hopeful for some form of normalcy in 2021. Read more about how young adults have a new outlook on life in our 2021 Outlook Report.

“So much has happened [in 2020] beyond what I could have imagined or predicted, and it's crazy to have lived through all this. I also feel a sense of loss—the pandemic isolated me and took away opportunities to spend time with my close friends. But I also feel relief—we made it through this crazy year. Hopefully 2021 will be better.” - Sai, 21, WA

“[2020 had] silver linings for sure. I am so grateful and optimistic given what has come from 2020.” - Stephanie, 33, NJ

“I'm just looking forward to some semblance of normalcy [in 2021].” - Justin, 32, NJ

“I'm just hoping that 2021 will be better. I'm going into it with cautious optimism.” - Danita, 19, PA

“I’m excited for [2021] and what it can bring.” - Tina, 25, IL


From the pandemic to a contentious election to the reignited BLM movement, 2020 was a pivotal year that truly tested young adults. For young people, 2021 offers somewhat of a clean slate: a chance to forgive themselves, work towards self-improvement, take on new endeavors, and recognize just how strong they really are.

“A fresh start is not letting the bad things that happened in 2020 hold me back from the new adventures of 2021.” - Daphne, 34, CA

“A fresh start means setting new goals and forgiving my 'past self' for anything that I may not now like. I understand that I was in a different place then than I am right now, and I should be proud of that. So from this new place I am going to continue to thrive and be proud of how far I have come.” - Grace, 16, PA

“A fresh start to me means starting over with an appropriate mindset for this year going forward, and having faith that my life is headed in the direction it needs to be.” - Shae, 22, TX

“[A fresh start means] starting over and improving things that I needed to work on.” - Victor, 15, IL

“I don't anticipate 2021 feeling that different from 2020, at least in the beginning.” - Melissa, 22, FL


2021 just may be the year of “no-mo” resolutions. Weighed down by everything that occurred in the past year, which Cassandra covered in our State of Mind Report, many Millennials and Gen Zs just aren’t as interested in adding pressure to be productive to their already tumultuous and uncertain lives. Rather than setting intimidating goals, teens and young adults are opting to enjoy each day as it comes, and to feel grateful for the good in their lives.

“I am not making any New Year’s resolutions because I never keep them, plus with Covid-19 there’s nothing I feel I need to strive for. This year is just about a mindset change.” - Shae, 22, TX

“[In 2021,] I will try to be more patient and empathetic and more grateful.” - Stephanie, 33, NJ

[There is] no point [in making resolutions for 2021.]” - Victor, 15, IL

“I make many reforms to myself throughout the year and set goals [without a timeframe].” - Lance, 14, FL

“[My resolution is to] be a better person all around, focus and achieve my goals, and better manage my time.” - Chermain, 31, GA