Like many others, I started 2020 with high hopes, big dreams and even bigger plans. But like most others, I was left disappointed.

It was supposed to be the start of a new era, a time when things would change for the better. Instead, it almost feels like things went backwards or even just stood still.

Although we went through some pretty dark and depressing times in 2020, we also saw much hope. As a state, country and world we came together in so many ways.

As a journalist, I had the opportunity to see how all different types of people handled the many events that took place over this past year. From issues in our country related to the election, the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, to global issues like the pandemic and the many wildfires that engulfed places around the world.

We are living during a time when many are scared to hug their friends and family, because it could potentially kill them. A time when friends and families are unable to get together for birthdays and holidays or carry on traditions.

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Through this year of sadness and anger, I have also seen so much giving and love in our community. I have seen people doing the very best they can to help the people and businesses that are suffering during this time. I was grateful for them this holiday season, because they helped me keep my faith in humanity. From the health care workers, to people buying groceries for the individuals who are immunocompromised -- it felt so much better to get to write about the people that have been spreading kindness and hope, instead of hate.

Fear can bring out the worst in people, but from what my colleagues and I have seen through our line of work, it also brings out some of the best in people.

Over the past 10 months I have written about people buying food at our local restaurants for health care workers who just can't seem to catch a break, and organizations and groups buying Christmas presents for families unable to buy gifts due to job loss.

People came together from all walks of life to help others, knowing they were not getting anything back in return.

So, instead of making a new weight goal or travel plans for a New Year's resolution this January, try making a resolution of how you can spread kindness this year. Start small -- be kind in the grocery store, call or text a family member to say you love and miss them. Maybe make some food for others or donate groceries, treat your friends to dinner from a local restaurant or become a volunteer for the first time.

Try and remember we are all human beings and we are going through this together.

Little did we know that 2021 was really going to be the year of new beginnings, so let's move on from a year of anger and sadness to a new year of hope and kindness.

Hannah LaVigne is a multimedia journalist for the Bemidji Pioneer. She can be reached at hlavigne@bemidjipioneer.com.