8 Things 2020 Taught Me
As we wind down 2020, I started to think about the many ways this year has rocked our world. As of today, over 300,000 Americans have lost their lives to COVID-19, leaving a wake of misery for their friends, family and communities.
We’ve certainly learned a lot about ourselves, though, including our strengths, our flaws and our priorities. Many of the everyday conveniences, business and financial trends, supply resources, and even the core framework of our democracy, have been tested to their limits.
But, if we take a step back for a moment from the frenetic news coverage and emotional roller coaster of these last 10 months, there are some valuable lessons and insights to be learned.
So, I thought I’d share 8 of the things that 2020 taught me. Some are funny, some are serious, but all of them are worth paying attention to for the deeper messages they can provide us.
1. Toilet Paper: The new gold standard.
I had to start this list with a little levity and the Great American Toilet Paper Caper fits the bill. Who knew that toilet paper or paper towels would become as rare, and almost as valuable, as gold? One’s sense of safety and well-being became synonymous with the amount of Costco bundles of TP they could cram into their cars and closets. It struck me that when it came down to what was important, we prioritized bathroom necessities over food staples. While I don’t promote the concept of hoarding more supplies than we can reasonably use in a year, there’s a benefit to understanding that we should always appreciate what we have and not take it for granted that it will always be there.
2. Shining Creativity
One of the more inspiring aspects that came from the necessity to stay at home for months at a time, were the creative ways people came up with to pass the time. Zoom became one of the most widely used applications for people to stay connected. From Zoom cocktail hours to online schooling or TV reporters reporting daily news or weather from their own living rooms, people have cranked up their ingenuity skills to stay connected in a personal way. I hope this trend continues to flourish even after COVID is a distant part of our past.
3. The value of freedom.
As the old saying goes, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. That couldn’t be truer than this year when we had to cut back on many of the things we love to do: traveling, dining out at restaurants, working out at the gym or shopping. We learned the true value of Amazon Prime two-day deliveries, getting out those old board games and having a game night or trying new recipes and cooking at home.
Many I’ve spoken with say they’d forgotten about the simpler things in life that gave them joy and found they’re reconnecting with their families in ways they haven’t in a very long time. Priceless!
4. The love affair of the Day Pajama!
Ok, who would have thought that having a day set, and a night set, of PJ’s would become the accepted norm for working at home wear? While I’m pretty sure this also meant a reduction in personal hygiene standards, the positive side was that we got to experience a slower pace of life that few of us have seen before. There’s something almost naughty about being given permission to ignore daily adult expectations of a regular work schedule and instead, sit back, relax and truly enjoy that morning cup of coffee knowing there’s no rush to leave the house!
5. Slowing our roll.
Being forced to slow our roll, for many, is a completely new skillset, one that probably wouldn’t have been so wide-spread if it hadn’t been forced upon us. But, the beauty of removing the rush and tumble of our normal days has given us the opportunity to take stock of what’s most important to us; spending time with those that are most precious to us, maintaining good health and taking a good, wide-eyed look around us at things we may not have noticed before. With social gatherings on hold, more people are spending time out in nature, taking long walks in their neighborhoods, reading and learning new things they never had time for in the past. If that isn’t making a blessing out of a hardship, I don’t know what is!
6. We’re up to the challenge.
One of the most inspiring examples of what can happen when we’re faced with overwhelming disaster is how our communities, our neighbors, our health and essential workers and so many more have stepped up and made the difference in caring for, and supporting those, who have fallen victim to this year’s horrific losses. Between COVID-19 and natural disasters like hurricanes and fires, people have lost family, friends, businesses, homes; essentially their entire worlds. But, time and time again, the heart of our communities have risen to help those in need. It doesn’t take away the pain of loss, but it gives hope that we can not only survive, but know that we aren’t alone on this journey.
7. The revival of humor.
I don’t know about you, but one of the biggest things that has helped me get through this year has been to thoroughly immerse myself in a boatload of humor. Every day I get a new joke or video texted or emailed to me from friends that will inevitably make me laugh until I cry. Research has repeatedly shown over time that laughter provides amazing and positive benefits to our health and well-being. It also allows us a much-needed outlet and relief from the seriousness we see on a daily basis. So, if you’re feeling down and need a quick pick-me-up, find a source of humor on TV, a book or a good joke a friend just sent and dive in!
8. Stress Eating Still Rules
For many of us, the stay-at-home order has had a very real effect on our waistlines. COVID-19 is less about a virus strain and more about the number of pounds we’ve gained these last few months from too much stress eating. No doubt our gym trainer or nutritionist would keel over from shock if they knew the true, dark secrets of our refrigerator. But, who cares?! All bets are off when it comes to global emergencies! We can return to calorie counting, tortured workout sessions and undraping the mirrors in our home when this COVID thing is under control. In the meantime, I say give yourself permission to enjoy the things that give you comfort in these trying times. But, as the advertisements say, please eat, drink and drive responsibly!
So, take a moment and think about the lessons you’ve learned this year. What can you take away from it that has made you a better person? Or maybe circumstances have brought up fears, old wounds or baggage from the past that you’re finally ready to address?
In the spirit of the new year ahead, take a deep breath, appreciate the blessings that surround you in the here and now and make the most of this holiday season in as creative and joyful way you can. 2021 is right around the corner and it’s going to be great!
Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy and stay strong!