2020 – what a year! Let’s get real here. It’s not like magically rolling the clock into 2021 will erase the challenges facing today’s world, but it does renew hope. It is a global renewal of spirit. A shot of resilience and a chance for self-reflection. At least that’s how I choose to view it.
While the pandemic showed us the flip side of life, it also showed us how to value our lives. It’s not about how many rocks you’ve hit to reach your destination, it’s about how you’ve navigated your way through them. We can choose to focus on the negative situations faced in 2020, or reflect on them and recognize how far we’ve come, what we’ve learned, and how far we’ve expanded our experience on this earth. We’ve all grown in resilience, compassion, love, hope, knowledge, and really, in more ways than I can list. But these lessons only stick if you value them and grow from them.
I am one of those that have truly had a terrible time of it. In 2020, the challenges came like a rocky river I was trying to navigate in a canoe full of holes. With this post, I hope to add value to those life lessons and if any of my adversity can spark growth for you too, then I’m even more fortunate to have gone through them.
Some lessons I learned during 2020:
- Living in a tiny space during lockdown alongside my partner taught me about positivity. There were moments where we were both sat at our small kitchen table juggling work, everyday duties, family traumas, and endless zoom calls. Last year felt like an eternity and the urge for us extroverts to escape was overwhelming (it still is). Some days were good, some days were bad, but this all taught me the importance of smiling and laughing at circumstances that are sometimes ludicrous. Mary Poppins says it best, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” So laugh at yourself, laugh at the situation, and give yourself a break. It will help you deal with things that life throws your way.
- Breaking my hand, shoulder, and tailbone taught me about self-care. The body is fragile, and not replaceable. Suffering multiple injuries taught me patience for healing, especially how slow it goes in your 30s. And, the importance of nurturing your body. You only get one, so take care of it. Feed it good food, drink half your body weight in water daily, and have the patience to wait for it to heal before you start forcing it to do that favorite activity of yours.
- Losing my sister taught me about gratitude. My psyche was stuck on the last time I saw her in person, and remembrance is not just about that ‘last time.’ It’s about the millions of times I can close my eyes and see her, hug her once again. This is something I learned to focus on and share gratitude for. We were gifted an amazing 24 years with her, and I am eternally grateful for all the little moments of memory I can visit in my dreams. Gratitude is much better than grief, trust me.
- Being stranded in a van taught me about community. Like a country song, I was stuck in a broken down van with dozens of family possessions in the middle of no-where (check out my Instagram Story highlights for this misadventure). My mom and partner drove halfway across the country to come to get me, and this truly opened my eyes to what a supportive community is. People who are there for you, without question. You should hug these people, your community, every day.
- Managing family illnesses taught me about quiet moments. Sitting with people when they are sick, and holding their hand when they’re scared requires strength and compassion. I’ve grown a lot this year in these moments, and I’ve learned to appreciate sitting still – listening to what’s not being said and being present in the stillness. When was the last time you were comfortable with silence? Let me tell you, stillness is just as important as a spoken conversation.
- Losing my employment taught me about pursuing dreams. I had been on the fence about my career goals, and losing any opportunity for income for 5 months due to Covid became an amazing catalyst. It forced me to re-direct my career path to one that I’ve been too afraid to take and gave me the time to do it. I’ve had a ‘when I grow up’ goal since I was a kid, and now I’m a step closer to living it. Now is a good a time as any to pursue your dream.
2020 has shown us that life is short and anything can happen, so don’t put off that dream. Don’t put off that family event, and don’t forget to have compassion for yourself and others. We’re all going through lessons we aren’t prepared for and are all doing our best to navigate that rocky river.
If you’ve crash-landed sideways into 2021, start by asking yourself the hard questions about your values, and what lessons you can pull out of the challenges you’ve faced this year. Assess your strengths and failures, think about your perceptions and interactions with others. Imagine where you want to take your life in the future. Then use those lessons as a catalyst and take the first step towards that happier-better-more prosperous life.