I must say that I’m happy to see you gone. I’m not afraid to call you out for what you were at times: a soul-sucking maelstrom of frustrations, losses, and annoying surprises.
But with the bad comes the good; for me that equates to growth. I want to reflect on the ways that I am stronger, more compassionate, more self aware, and frankly, more laid back than I was before you showed up.
And although much of what I learned is a result of the pandemic, I also recognize that every year brings unique challenges, new outlooks, and greater wisdom; 2020 simply stretched me in ways I could never have fathomed. And for that, I must say that I’m grateful.
Thank you, 2020, for providing me with necessary lessons and transformative power that I didn’t know I needed.
Lesson 1: Slow Down
Before you, I was a ‘list girl.’ And I suppose to an extent, the list-maker in me will never fully go away. But when quarantine happened and suddenly all of my obligations and activities flew right out the window, I realized that I liked living day to day without such rigid plans; somehow I felt freer when I didn’t have to answer to a glaring set of tasks to check off. A cute planner is for sure up there with coffee-flavored ice cream and a good, long bubble bath, but the forever-long lists can take a hike. An empty calendar is truly a thing to behold.
Lesson 2: Money doesn’t have to be spent
You also exposed my habit of “shopping just to shop,”— of spending money just to spend it. I’m grateful that stores closed and I had no reason to go anywhere or buy anything, because I actually saved loads of money that I can now use towards our new home on items that I actually WANT. Or, I can just keep all that money in the bank, too—my prerogative. Furthermore, you reminded me that the best things to invest in are experiences. At the end of the day, everything else is really just clutter taking up space in my closet. And I suppose I have also come to realize that most of the best things in life cost nothing.
Lesson 3: I was never in control
What can I say, you had me fooled in Jan/Feb. Now I know that my life is both grandiose and minuscule, that I can have it all and I can have it all taken away. There is peace in surrendering to the universe, in trusting God’s plan for me and breaking down the expectations that provide me with a false sense of security. None of us are in control, and all we really have is the present.
Lesson 4: I should do more of what makes me happy, and do it now
You have reminded me of what brings me true joy: writing. This very blog began in quarantine with my best friend. I shudder to think that it might never have seen the light of day. Before the world came to a stop and I had my checklists to focus on, it was simply an idea buried under fear and excuses. Nothing like a global shutdown to make a person realize that they had better get moving on those dreams and pour themselves into what ignites their soul. We all have that thing that makes us come alive…now is now, friends.
Lesson 5: Adapt, trust and go
Thank you for providing me with unlimited practice in rolling with the punches, for forcing me to constantly adapt. You revealed to me that I can do hard things, that I can change the way that I’m used to doing life, and yes it will be difficult, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. You’ve given me opportunities to experiment, modify and recalibrate…and shown me that despite my resistance, things work out. Just try.
lesson 6: I am resilient
Along those same lines, you’ve reminded me that I’m resilient. We all are. And we are capable of making the most of a hard situation. There were several times where I cried for multiple days in a row. Death and hardship were not strangers to me this year, and honestly my attitude toward pain and loss is very different now than before. I see now that pain can be our friend when we view it with curious eyes, that loss is temporary, that death isn’t scary. You showed me that grief begets growth. Saying goodbye to people and things and traditions and ideas has brought forth a new girl in me: in some ways she’s softer, but in other ways she’s more of a badass.
Lesson 7: change is inevitable-might as well embrace it
You reminded me that change is really the only constant. And I was already aware of this truth, but you definitely made it more obvious. Every season has an ending (which brings a new, exciting beginning). And change doesn’t have to be hard or scary; it’s what pushes us into the next chapter, despite our opposition to welcoming newness and unfamiliarity.
lesson 8: time is a gift
You afforded me this gift to spend on myself and my people. In quarantine we had to get real creative, am I right? Swimming in April? Yes, please. Sonic runs for Vanilla Diet Cokes on the daily? Yep. Playing board games, binge watching new shows, learning new skills, face-timing more than ever, talking on back porches, creating, meditating, connecting…what’s not to love? Who doesn’t want more of those things? We all complain we don’t have enough time, and then when we do we waste it or distract ourselves from just ‘being’…2020, you gave me so much time to think, ponder and listen…to be intentional.
Lesson 9: We don’t all have to agree
You handed me plenty of doses of humble pie, too. I mean, didn’t we all have pretty strong opinions when this thing started? And maybe we still do…but I have in some sense given up trying to prove something. Because who really cares what I think? Who cares what you think? We’re all just humans trying to make it through the day…so let’s allow more room for compassion and less for pointless debating and pride taking the forefront of conversations. Let’s be curious about each other’s beliefs and actually freaking listen for once. I don’t agree with you, you don’t agree with me, and it’s A-OKAY.
lesson 10: humans aren’t bad…we just aren’t that smart
And speaking of that, you showed me that humanity is not evil and selfish, but rather, we are a bunch of souls who don’t really know anything and just want to be loved. Some of us show it in not-so-great ways and some of us show up on Facebook with some really frickin’ strong opinions, but when all is said and done, ALL of us are human beings with feelings and insecurities. So in knowing that, can we offer a little more grace and shake off the negativity like it ain’t no thing. I swear if you just look at every person in this world and imagine them as a newborn baby swaddled in their mama’s arms, it will soften you, and you’ll be able to take a deep breath and just let it go.
Lesson 11: when things suck, change your perspective
I resisted this lesson, and maybe that’s why you kept handing me chances to learn it. For a big chunk of the year, I played the blame-game and victimized myself by complaining about decisions made by local leaders and government officials, never hesitating to name all the ways their choices made my life harder. The problem with this mindset is that I was handing my happiness to people I didn’t know or care about. The truth is, there were TONS of decisions made that affected me in a negative way, but as soon as I made the conscious choice to stay neutral, it was like I was a different person. Because when all is said and done, I’m still a free woman living in a free country with ENDLESS conveniences and blessings at my fingertips. All I had to do was change my perspective a little, and suddenly the power was back in my hands.
I readily acknowledge that this year was HARD. But I also see that I’ve become different, and I don’t think that girl would have emerged quite like she has without something like a global pandemic literally forcing the growth out of me. I think it’s seeping out of all of us now, and it’s necessary. We are tired but we are STRONGER.
Who knows what 2021 will bring, and honestly, is it worth caring anymore? I say, come what may…and love it.