To 2020, from a learning, growing, feeling and thinking person.
Another year gone. A crazy, unpredictable, anxiety-inducing year. 2020 seems to have held the events, lessons and growth of five years, but somehow passed in the span of about five months.
I used to hear people say that as a certain year passed, it was the hardest of their life, I never thought I’d be the one saying it...I’m twenty years old, from a safe and happy home and family, have the opportunity of education and countless other privileges.
But a challenging period in anyone’s life is valid. In all honesty, I don’t care who you are or what your thoughts are on COVID, politics, whatever it is, whether you want to admit it or not, 2020 was probably hard for you. So let’s just talk about that.
This is not a “new year, new me” type of thing, so if you’re looking for gold confetti and 2021 glasses from Walgreens, you’re in the wrong place. Instead, here’s my ode to 2020—and it's not very sparkly.
The year may be a running joke, but I’ve been thinking a lot about the below surface-level stuff. I think the past ten months aged everyone about a decade. For me, at times it was depressing, it was scary, it was hardening, emotional and numbing.
March was terrifying, April and May were frustrating, the summer held hope but fell short. And I’ve felt like my head has been in the clouds for the last three months, numb to all of it and not knowing where to even look next. I went through cycles of anxious, to unmotivated, to extreme stress, to the laziest I’ve ever been. But I’m still standing here. I’ve cried over frustration, sadness and anger. On auto-pilot in September, I completely forgot I had taken a trip home two weeks earlier, WTF? I was scared for myself, and I was scared knowing I was one of millions.
Again, I don’t care who you are, details, opinions aside, a lot of heavy stuff happened. People grieved tremendous loss. The loss of loved ones, the loss of milestones that were cancelled, the loss of relationships that couldn’t take the weight, and maybe the loss of their true self. People fought. Fought on the frontline of healthcare work. Fought to keep their family afloat financially and their businesses alive. Fought with their lives to end injustice.
There were cancelled graduations, postponed weddings, caution-taped playgrounds, closed schools and millions of businesses lost. We went to protests, we voted, we spent more time alone with ourselves than ever before.
Maybe we’ll look back on this year and laugh, laugh at the fact that everyone in America made banana bread at the same time. Laugh at the fact that we did dance cardio classes in our living room with our roommates because gyms were closed for months.
If you had told me in advance that this year would be like this, that 2020 would break us down over and over again, I would have spent the time I had left worrying and trying to prepare myself for the unavoidable. Instead, 2020 was thrown at us out of no where, with no time to react, adjust or even really process. Nothing will enact immediate growth like a lack of transitioning period. You must recognize that growth, and be proud of yourself for it.
But in that time I would have spent worrying about 2020 if I knew what was coming? Instead, that time was spent living my life the way I am supposed to. I often have to remind myself that I cannot spend my whole life worrying, preparing and planning—that leaves no room for living. I tend to struggle with transitioning in general, so this year has been the longest work in progress ever. I find myself looking inward much more often, and really asking myself how I’m doing. The answer most days this year? Not so great. 2020 came out of absolutely nowhere, but it pushed my limits and showed me that I can survive the unexpected and messy parts of life, which there are far more of than the perfectly neat ones.
I love the saying, ”If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.”
Recently, I learned about a visual representation of our comfort zone. Think of a small circle with two bigger rings around it. The smallest circle in the middle is your comfort zone. The middle ring represents your stretch zone. This is when you’re just toeing the line of comfortable and uncomfortable. You're learning and testing your limits. The outermost circle’s ring represents the chaos zone. And I’d say that’s right about where the last ten months has landed me. But if I could somehow see my circles, my zone rings, and compare January 2020’s to January 2021, I’m confident that my middle circle, my comfort zone, has gotten bigger. We're stronger.
I’m not saying 2021 is going to be better. But its another chance. I'm a new beginnings type of person—if you're not, why not be this year? Let's refresh, recharge, and be kind to ourselves. Soon, we’ll be able to hug our family members, smile at strangers in the grocery stores, and sing along to the music in a crowded bar.
Find your balance in what you know you are, and what 2020 showed you that you can be.
I write this while not healed. Not even close. But that’s what I’m hoping is next. This is one year, out of (hopefully) so many. I’m not saying 2021 is going to be better. Hell, it might be worse. But that’s life.
I can guarantee that despite the circumstances, you had some great moments this year. I’m also willing to bet that those moments were simple. Maybe it was a long-awaited reunion with a family member, learning to cook a new favorite recipe, or it was the one night you dressed up to go out to dinner, finally.
If it were last year? A dinner date as the highlight of your year? No way.
See? Now this year, you have gained a new perspective. We can be thankful and grateful for the simplest pleasures in our lives, and that should be the root of every new year’s fresh start.
Do hard times change people forever? Or do they just teach them what they were blind to before? At times this year I’ve been angry, I’ve been sad, and I’ve been negative and pessimistic. But that doesn't make me an angry person. Just because it’s been difficult to be positive and hopeful, doesn’t mean that’s not who I still am at my core. I’m not a sad person, but now I know what that side looks like.
You must be self-aware in difficult moments. Let 2020 teach you, but don’t let it change you for good. Our values have remained, and maybe our gratitude for life's moments has increased. We learned. About ourselves in a deep way, and about ourselves enough to realize we may really love homemade lattes, takeout on a Saturday night or jazz music for the #WFH vibes.
Every perspective gained is a blessing, there is something so powerful about the ability to see something from a new perspective. Let us take the lessons, the still raw feelings into the new year with us. Don’t forget the year just because it was hard. We have no idea what’s in store next, and 2020 has proven that the only thing you need heading into 2021, is yourself.
Be kind, be grateful, and allow yourself to sink into who you really are and what you feel. Ask for help, tell your family you love them, and don’t lose sight of everything that this crazy life has to offer.