2020, am I right?
This year was, a lot, to put it simply. I don’t know a single person who can say that this year wasn’t absolutely crazy – between COVID, the protests and riots from this summer, depressing celebrity deaths (RIP Chadwick Boseman and Alex Trebek), murder hornets, and Prince Harry leaving the royal family – among many other things – 2020 seemed to want to see exactly just how much we could take. But, this year didn’t totally suck for me.
Yes, I lost the job that was supposed to be my super-cool “big girl” job that I actually stayed with for more than six months. Yes, I flew across the country to spend the weekend with a guy I had met once and was convinced was the real thing just to have my heart broken and end up abandoned in a mall. I went to Florida to be with my family for two weeks (remember when we thought that was all it would take to flatten the curve?) and stayed for five months, which I wasn’t prepared for. I went six months without seeing a friend that wasn’t also a family member, and I had to cancel two trips that I was really looking forward to. I got a Travel Rewards credit card back in February which was hilariously ignored.
Obviously, I know that in the grand scheme of things the “bad shit” that happened to me this year really wasn’t that bad compared to what a lot of other people have been through, and I’m very aware of that, but it doesn’t mean that it still wasn’t tough to get through. But, I did get through it and ended up stronger and better than ever.
A friend of mine and I have been saying lately that if you think 2020 completely sucked, then, no offense, you kind of suck, too. I absolutely believe that this year had a meaning – what it is, I don’t know, but I think it did. It forced a lot of people to slow down and appreciate the little things in life, and remember how much they have to be grateful for. They realized what their true priorities need to be. Employers realized that maybe allowing for a better work-life balance wouldn’t be such a bad thing. People realized how important family is, and that honestly, it’s silly to be overly loyal to a company when the company isn’t very loyal to you. This year came with a lot of trials and tribulations, absolutely, but if you’ve simply been dwelling on all the bad things and haven’t learned any lessons from this year then I’m sorry to say that I don’t think your 2021 is going to be much better.
Yes, some bad things happened to me, but good things did, too. I got to see my baby niece’s first steps and hear some of her first words. I spent an unexpectedly large amount of time with my family. I got certified as a Barre instructor after years of saying I would, finally renewed my First Aid certification, and was able to dedicate more time to studying for (and taking) the beast that is the LSAT so I can start law school next year. I sought out specific treatment to discuss my history with disordered eating so that I don’t adopt those habits and end up as sick and miserable as I was when I was at the height of my eating disorder a few years ago. I baked, a lot. I learned to kayak with my mom, started lettering, and read a ton of books. I got my first position on a Board of Directors for a non-profit I’m extremely passionate about, took on a very fulfilling leadership position in the Junior League, and most importantly, I learned to prioritize myself! I finally had a talk with someone that I’ve felt I needed to have for years, and we were able to put the past where it belongs and start to become friends after way too much resentment and pain. I invested the amount of time, money, and energy that I’m used to investing in other people into myself and I’ve come out on the other side a completely different person.
A friend of mine developed a “Soul Purpose” program, and I decided to take part in it because when shit started to hit the fan back in April – even before the pandemic got really bad – I couldn’t help but feel like I was meant to take a step back and reevaluate what I was doing with my life, because I wasn’t on the right path at all. It took me a while to decide to participate, but I am so glad that I did. Honestly, the work I’ve done with her over the past twelve weeks has been infinitely better for me than anything I worked on with my most recent therapist, who pretty much ghosted me when I had an insurance issue and couldn’t see her as regularly. I felt strong enough to go off my anti-anxiety medication because a lot of the reasons I was anxious in the past were no longer present. I learned to trust myself, love myself, and not feel like I have to be responsible for the happiness of everyone in my life – even when it’s at my own expense. I placed boundaries that I actually enforced (finally). I learned more about myself than I thought was possible in only three months, and I’m ending this year happier than I’ve been in years.
I know my experiences might be the exception, but I really do think that attitude can make a huge difference. Even when I lost my job because of budget issues, I knew that I was insanely lucky because I didn’t have nearly as much to worry about as others. There was the coworker who was just a couple of years from retirement, the one who found out shortly after being laid off that she was pregnant, or the one who had moved from a different state specifically for a job she lost just a couple of months later. I don’t have kids or a mortgage, and I’m insanely lucky and grateful to have a supportive family. But I also didn’t take that for granted. I took advantage of the opportunities this year gave me, and the position I was in, to make sure that I didn’t waste something that I was fortunate enough to have. And because I didn’t take my job loss personally, or spend every day finding a reason to have a pity party, I received more opportunities to grow and continue being grateful.
I think I’ve said this before, but every morning before I get out of bed I list three things I’m grateful for and three things I’m looking forward to that day. I get that on REALLY hard days that isn’t enough – and I’ve had some of those days myself – but the important thing is to keep on going. I know this sounds kind of ~earthy~, but I do think this year has made me a bit of a hippie so I’m going with it (I even have a “hippie tray” in my room to hold all my crystals), but I also totally believe in that. You know that book “The Secret”? It’s true. Attitude can make a huge difference in your life, so make sure you have a good one.
This doesn’t mean to belittle your own feelings when you have a valid reason to be upset because someone always has it worse, or you should be grateful for the good things and forget the bad, because that’s not realistic and it’s also not healthy to never have a negative emotion, and it isn’t fair to you to feel like you’re not allowed to have a bad day. You are! Everyone is! But, don’t let one bad day define your whole year. And by the same token, don’t let one bad year define the rest of them.
Just because I had a pretty good year, comparatively speaking, doesn’t mean I’m not ready to say goodbye to 2020. I am, trust me. I’m sad for those grieving a loved one that was lost because of COVID, or any other illness or accident. I’m sad at how divided our country has become. I’m sad for the people who’ve struggled with mental health, abusive relationships or families, or food insecurity because of places being closed. I’m sad for families that missed the holidays together, and I’m sad that my not even three-year old niece gets nervous when her mask falls off in public. I know things aren’t perfect. But, I can’t control a lot of those things. What I can control is how I react to those things. I can’t send positivity and love to people who need it when I’m still taking a job loss from April personally, or being upset about a jerk in Arizona, because I wouldn’t have anything to give them if I was so focused on the ‘bad’ things that happened. Especially because if those things hadn’t happened, SO many of the great things that happened to me this year probably wouldn’t have either!
My friend who led the “Soul Purpose” program I did has made a positive impact on my life since we first met in Orlando when she did my waxes, but this year she went above and beyond. She helped me learn to trust myself, listen to my intuition, address areas I needed to work on to be the best version of me I can possibly be, and most importantly, she helped me find my purpose. To serve others. I’m excited to spend the next year – and beyond – figuring out exactly how I want to serve others, and then doing it! I wouldn’t have been able to do that if this year had been as perfect as I imagined it would be back in February.
So, yes, 2020 sucked but it doesn’t mean that 2021 has to as well. I hope you were able to learn something from this year, too, and if not – there’s still time! I finally worked on things from five years ago this year. It’s never too late. I’m excited to put this year to bed, and I’m ready to take on 2021 and make it the best year yet! That is, until 2022.
I hope everyone has a happy, healthy, and safe New Year’s Eve celebration, and I’m wishing everyone an amazing new year! Praying for peace, love, and light, and for everyone who struggled this year, don’t give up.
2020 is over and it can only go up from here! Right? Right.