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What 2020 Has Taught Me

What 2020 Has Taught Me

Goodbye 2020, Hello 2021.

January is for many the hardest month of the year. It’s cold and dreary. It’s a long month when it comes to finances and in some ways it is an anti-climax when we consider that we’ve just celebrated Christmas and New Year.

For me however, January is a fresh start. It’s a chance to be reflective. During December, we’re caught up in the ‘magic’ of Christmas, spending time with family, seeing friends and often over-indulging. It’s hard to feel reflective when your senses are overloaded. I also think Christmas 2020 was hard to take.

January is my time to take stock and think about how I intend my year to go. I don’t write off January – I use it as a reset. I consider habits I want to learn/change, things I want to do more/less of, people I want to see more or remove from my life, I think about what brought me joy and what brought me down and so on. The list is endless.

I do also ask myself what I have learned from the previous year that I don’t want to repeat again.

So here’s five lessons from 2020:

Basic isn’t basic anymore:

Having a home, being surrounded by loved ones, having a job, clean clothes, water to drink, food to eat and a bed to sleep in – these are things to be thankful for. When I think of all the things that have been lost in 2020, it’s sobering and humbling. With these basics, we’re living with abundance. Previously, there’s been this ‘want’ culture and the ‘I need it now’ mentality – appreciate what you have and be thankful because it’s not certain and can be stripped away from you when you least except it.

I started 2020 excited – ready to get married, go on my honeymoon, move into a new house. I remember the last time I saw closest friend in person – she was trying on her bridesmaid dress and we’d gone out for lunch. I don’t know when I’ll next get to do that with her. I’m sure it won’t be long – but so many won’t get that chance. So many have lost friends and family. So I am grateful because one day in the future, I’ll get to go for lunch with my best friend and we’ll put the world to rights.

People will come and go

One thing I learned in 2020 is that it is hard to keep in contact with everyone you know. People from work, friends from school, family members – you can’t speak to them all. Those people may not have time for you either and really that’s okay.

I’m fine with the small close knit group of people that I’ve formed closer bonds with over the course of the past 12 months. I’ve come to the realisation that spreading yourself too thin means that you don’t give the best of you and you don’t get the best of others. Taking time to nurture the bonds that bring me joy has been a key learnings.

Others are probably feeling what you are

I felt isolated and alone despite being in a house with other people. I felt anger at the unknown and while I had turned my hand to baking and creating – it wasn’t enough to make me feel like I could get through this unknown.

The more I spoke to my friends, the more I realised that I was not the only one. My cousin has two young boys, both of whom were at home as schools and nurseries were closed. She shared recipes she was trying, FaceTimed throughout the day to let me see what the boys were up to and generally just checked in. I had quizzes with friends via Zoom and joined a book club where I could have meaningful discussion about the books that I was reading.

Talking about how I felt to those closest to me showed me that I was not alone and that everyone has moments where they can’t cope but by leaning on each other, we can get through it.

Busy is not always productive

I burnt out in 2020. It wasn’t until September when I stopped and booked myself into a residential retreat where I could stop and take stock of what was happening that I actually realised that I’d been using ‘being busy’ as a way of copy.

I’d started running everyday, writing a post as often as I could, baking, working, being the carer for my grandparents, trying to meditate, digging up a vegetable patch, drawing, henna art.. the list goes on. I’d wanted to make the best use of the time but I didn’t actually leave any time to rest and recover.

I didn’t leave enough time to sit in silence and heal myself or give myself the space I needed to cope with this unknown. I just busied myself hoping that I could ride it out and come out a winner on the other side. Instead, I wore myself down to the ground and had to take near a month out trying to ‘fix’ my mental health.

When I took that break, went away from all the distractions and just focused on myself – I realised that it’s important to take time to stop and appreciate where you’re at in that moment and how you’re feeling.

Your feelings aren’t more important than anyone else’s

Compassion is key. We don’t know someone else’s story and they don’t know ours. Approaching life with kindness is so valuable.

I had a habit of saying ‘oh is that all?’ when someone told me a problem they were having and then I tried to show them how easy it was to fix it. When someone offloads, they are not always looking for a solution but instead a kind thoughtful ear to hear them. They also don’t want their feelings to be belittled because you don’t see it as a significant issue – it’s all relative to the situation.

Remember as well, we’re all craving a hug right now.

So my key takeaways from 2020 are simple – be thankful, be kind and be grateful because we’re not going to be here forever.

This is a good post.. have a read:

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