Phew, we’ve almost made it, haven’t we? In the next week, all our feeds will be filled with “best of” lists and people making public their thoughts for 2021 (Hopefully, better than what many experienced in 2020!) But it doesn’t make much sense to move on to next year, without reflecting on the year we are finishing. Does it?
I know, 2020 wasn’t the year any of us wanted it to be. And it was full of such contradictions. Even yesterday, I saw two very contradictory posts. One told me that if I managed to survive 2020 intact, I had succeeded and that should be celebrated. The very next post offered me a plan to do more, be more, get more done, be less lazy. 2020 has been the year when we gave ourselves grace but also wanted more. We cheered when we managed to get up, shower, and remember what day it was, but also lamented all that we couldn’t get done. Anyone else’s house look like a herd of dinosaurs live in it?
However, I don’t want to jump ahead to the new things of a new year (think health goals, house organization, and professional goals) without taking some time to reflect on the lessons and learning that happened in 2020. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a list of what I learned.
- I am a feelings person, but after the initial onslaught of (paralyzing?) emotions, I buckle down and (usually) get the hard stuff done. In the spring, every new shutdown/limit sent me into a tailspin for 24-48 hours. But after the freak out came the plan and I got to work. (The idea that I am a feelings person is new to me. Honestly, for my whole life I thought I was a rational, logical thinker.) So now, I allow myself time to feel my feelings without guilt and then I move on and get to the task at hand.
- 2020 was a frickin’ hard year for all of us. Mental Health challenges in our home and in people around me. First, I learned a lot about the Mental Health systems in our area. But most importantly, I learned empathy and a whole lot of compassion. First, for the struggling people in my life and then for myself. Self-compassion is the hardest thing in the world for me.
- This year needs to be remembered, for me anyway, as one where the social injustices of systems were laid bare on the table. From the disproportionate deaths of people of color to COVID to protests and riots for the deaths of black men and women, this year forced me to think hard about my privilege as white woman. And it marked the beginning of a time of learning from BIPOC.
- 2020 is the year I realized that I am entering Act 2 of my life. And there are some things I want to do and achieve. With a house full of teenagers, I realize that I have time on my hands where they don’t need me. Although 2020 has been hyper intense parenting, there was lots of time for me to think about my own goals. And I’m willing to work towards those goals. For me, 2020 will be marked as the year that I started to think about & discover what I want to do with my life. I don’t think that would have happened without the forced slow-down of COVID quarantine.
- Finally, I learned about the powerful effect of small things. A friend who dropped everything to sit with my daughter when her cat died. Long zoom calls with family far away. Well-timed check-in calls and texts. People who listen. Conversations on the couch with teenagers who are learning and thinking and discovering their own selves. Near-daily walks regardless of weather. Social Distanced porch nights full of laughter. Cuddles with kids who aren’t too old to be held by mom. The all-inclusive love of Jesus. Routine. Small bits of quiet I took for myself. I could go on. . .
It’s not an exaggeration to say that 2020 was one of the hardest years I have encountered in my life (And that beats the years when all the kids were toddlers and Eric was working away from the house for 60 hours a week). And there were so many losses. BUT with a little reflection, I can see how much I gained.
How was your 2020? Was there loss? Was there gain? I’d love to hear your reflections on this life-altering year.
P.S. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter. The first one will launch in January 2021 and there you will be able to follow my honest journey to publication. You’ll want to be along for that ride. I promise.