Are we sick of talking about 2020? Yes and no, right? I think the reason we’re meme milking 2020 for all it’s worth is because it truly is a shared experience. I’m not going to harp on that too much because I have before, but I keep going back to that thing I read that said, “We’re all weathering the same storm, we’re just not in the same boat.” And, ain’t that the truth? No matter which side of the mask debate, the election, the whatever whatever you’re on, we’ve all had front row seats to this bizarro year. I’m just happy that it wasn’t a total wash, and I’d be willing to bet you learned a thing or two, too.
So, as we’re barreling through the twelfth and final chapter of 2020, I wanted to share some of my personal learnings with you.
- Thankfulness is a choice. 2020 gave a whole new meaning to, “It could always be worse.” It could indeed always be worse, and it seems like some stretches of days and weeks this year were out to prove just that. It got me thinking a lot about that notion that you have to know and experience bad to know, experience, and appreciate good. The opposite applies as well. I’ve gotten really intentional about thankfulness in the past six months, and despite the absolute hellscape that is the planet right now, I’m feeling pretty blessed. How did I get here? Well, back in June I started keeping a prayer journal. Every single night, I sit down and I first write down everything I’m grateful for. Sometimes it’s big picture: a job, a roof over my head, food in my belly. Sometimes it’s the details: the ten minute thunderstorm, my blue couch, that perfectly cooked piece of bacon. Immediately after my list of gratitude, I follow up with a list of asks. Big picture: a Covid-19 cure, volume for voices that need to be heard, loving each other better. Small picture: keep my job, get my loved ones to and from work safe and healthy, ease the weight of this fear and anxiousness.
This has been such a cathartic and dare I say… successful? process for me. It’s helped me to be intentional about considering my blessings and has also been insight into how my asks get answered or come to fruition in ways that are totally separate from my schedule and my agenda. It’s been a beautiful exercise in faith and a sobering reminder that life has been good to me. I’m choosing to be thankful.
- If it’s important to you, make time for it. If I could get back the time I’ve spent complaining about not having enough time, I could do something spectacular! Having a lot of extra time these days (no commute, no social commitments, no extraneous errands) has had me thinking about time in general. I’ve got about three more hours to myself a day than I used to, and they’ve helped me to prioritize more than I thought possible. For years, I haven’t had time for art. No time for fitness. No time to go to bed at a reasonable hour, or to sleep in just a little later. The days have seemed increasingly shorter, and not really because they’re increasingly more fun.
Quarantine has taught me a lot about self care, intentionality, and time management. I like a clean house, so I make time to clean the house. I love the way painting makes me feel, so I make time to paint. I want to feel stronger, so I work out. I want a clearer mind, so I go for a long walk. I’ve made so many excuses for not doing these things over the years, and it makes zero sense because I’d rather be doing them!
Don’t lose yourself in the hustle and bustle of your obligations. Yes, they’re obligations and they require your best effort and attention, but you also require your best effort and attention. If it makes you happy, make time for it.
- Being kind isn’t hard. If I told you I think 2020 made me a kinder person because I don’t have to get behind the wheel or go to in person work meetings, would you believe me? You probably would, but don’t. Yes, I think my kinder heart started to grow as a result of less high pressure situations in my day to day life, but that was only the start.Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m still averaging one vent session a day and my brain and mouth betray my kindness pact often, but I’ve seen a huge change in my heart in 2020. It’s a change I was working toward, and also one I needed to make happen because I was turning into some 5’1″ furious little monster, and I’ve seen the memes, I can’t be her.
What made my old Grinch heart grow? Well, my disposition was definitely softened in 2020 by the fact that we’re all in this together. It’s a shared experience that I genuinely hope is only once-in-a-lifetime, but it’s shaped us all and there’s no denying that. Then, as mask mandates went into place all over the country, I learned that my mask protects you, and your mask protects me; when you’re wearing a mask out in public, I feel like you care about me, and if that doesn’t make you want to be a kinder person, I don’t know what will. And finally, I opened my eyes to another pandemic, racism. I had/have a lot to learn, and probably will for my whole life, but the learning process has already shaped my heart in ways that I don’t have words for.
All this to say, I learned that we really need to love each other better and treat each other with kindness. We won’t survive without it. If 2020 teaches you anything, I hope it’s that.
Major sappy post, but it’s a major sappy year. What has 2020 tattooed on your heart?