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End of the Year for 2020 and Lessons Learned for 2021


The new year is quickly approaching, and even as things continue to be incredibly stressful and confusing, it feels somewhat safe to say that most of us are ready to let go of 2020 and face 2021 with optimism and readiness for change. Looking back past 2020 to 2019, it is safe for I think everyone to say that this year was completely unexpected. It has challenged us as individuals and as a human race beyond anything we were ever prepared for.

LAS121: End of the Year for 2020 and Lessons Learned for 2021

The new year is quickly approaching, and even as things continue to be incredibly stressful and confusing, it feels somewhat safe to say that most of us are ready to let go of 2020 and face 2021 with optimism and readiness for change. Looking back past 2020 to 2019, it is safe for I think everyone to say that this year was completely unexpected. It has challenged us as individuals and as a human race beyond anything we were ever prepared for. 

Today we are going to focus on the lessons learned from this year and how we can bring those with us into 2021. We have the opportunity to take this messy, terrifying, and challenging situation and take something from it to make us stronger, wiser, and better people. As much as I want to focus on how we can take this year and reframe the positivity to be found from the lessons we’ve learned, it does not go without saying that there are many of us who have been more affected by 2020 than others. 

While 2020 has caused many of us to feel isolated, depressed, and anxious as we continue to quarantine and as our lives continue to completely change, there are so many people out there who have experienced unimaginable loss. Some have lost their jobs, their homes, and even their loved ones. It would be insensitive not to acknowledge that this year may not contain any lessons that we would have wanted to learn – or that any of us wants to have to learn. If you are one of us who has felt the force of this year in one of those earth-shattering ways, just know that you have people here thinking of you, and it okay to be angry and feel like there is nothing to be gained from this year. 

Your grief and hardship are valid and unique to yourself and your situation, and we are indeed in no position to tell you how to feel. But please know that we are keeping you and everyone who has been so detrimentally affected by this pandemic and the situations it has caused in our thoughts, our prayers, and close to our hearts. 

For those of us who are struggling in lesser ways, our pain, stress, and reactions are still just as valid. We are in this challenge together, and there is no space for invalidating the feelings of others. This is the time to come together. For those, like ourselves, who want to learn from this year and use the lessons to make 2021 a better year for ourselves and for those around us. Even hardships have gifts to give us in the form of learning things that make us stronger and more resilient – we are gaining that life experience my grandma and grandpa were always talking about.  

This year has been nothing short of eye-opening, and that sentiment extends far beyond the pandemic. So much that has occurred and continues to go on has taught us that we have a lot to learn and a lot of work to do. In some ways, it feels like we have been stripped in a sense and have had to get back to the basics of what it means to be human and how we prioritize our values. So, without further ado, let’s get into the seven lessons we’ve learned from 2020 and can bring with us into 2021. 

Change is inevitable
I think it is more than safe to say that nothing is ever safe from change. We have watched our entire world, and every corner within it, change nearly overnight. We so easily get completely comfortable in our surroundings and forget that nothing in this life is promised. At any moment, we can have the rug pulled from beneath of us. Change is always a bit scary because it is a very real manifestation of the unknown. Even if our situation isn’t the greatest or the most exciting, many of us cling to what is known, understood, and what is comfortable. 

While change is terrifying, especially on the level that we have dealt with in 2020, it doesn’t have to have an entirely negative connotation as we move forward. Change does not wait for anyone, and being upset, angry, or unwilling to accept it will not stop it. So, how can we learn from the incredible amount of change that we have faced during the days of 2020? Well, first and foremost, we can take learn the hard and cold lesson of patience. Yes, change is coming. It’s here already and will always be present in our lives. But most situations have a silver lining or a way of teaching us how to be a better version of ourselves. 

One of the worst aspects of change is that it can take place over a long time. How many of us thought that we would lockdown and quarantine for a couple of weeks, maybe a month, and then COVID would magically disappear, and things would return to normal. Here we are nearly nine months later, and the situation has evolved, we haven’t returned to normal, and we likely never go back to how things were before. As we move into 2021, we need the patience to accept change and trust that we will be strong enough to make it through even the most difficult times. You hear a lot of people refer to this as trusting the process, which is usually connected to something useful like becoming healthier or learning a skill. However, we also need to trust the process during times of hardship.  

Let yourself slowdown
Pre pandemic, we have always been a fast-moving society with too many things to do and not enough hours to do them. Whether it is taking the kids to and from school, sports, and other activities, or you’re in school and working full time, I think it is safe to say that we are all very busy. When our schedules and our minds are this jam-packed, it is so easy to miss out on the most valuable parts of life – family, friends, the moments. These moments and time spent with our loved ones are what makes our lives rich and beautiful.

As 2020 has forced us to slow down – going out less, spending less time on the road and work from home, changing the structure of school and activities – we have had to slow down and take stock of our daily lives in a way that is entirely new for most of us. Thinking about this makes me think about our grandparents or the elders in our lives. Many of us get frustrated when they are moving slow, or it takes them a long time to complete something. We think, my goodness, I have so much to do, there are so many things that need to be done, why are they taking so long? Quite honestly, after a year like 2020, I see more and more that they had it right. Why are we always rushing to move through our lives rather than experiencing or living our lives? Isn’t that why we are here?

So, as we approach 2021, I think one of the most important lessons that we can take with us is that it is okay not to be on the go 24/7. It doesn’t make you lazy or unproductive if your schedule isn’t booked day in and day out. There is something beautiful and freeing in having absolutely nothing to do. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help
So many of us struggle to ask for help. This seems to be an ingrained part of our society. We view help and assistance as a sign of vulnerability or weakness – if we can’t do something perfectly on our own, we aren’t smart enough, good enough, or we aren’t working hard enough. We would rather struggle in silence than ask someone to help us make it through. What kind of lesson are the fear and stubbornness teaching us? We have family, friends, and loved ones to help us through the things we can’t do on our own, and there is absolutely no shame in admitting that you can’t do everything on your own – no one can!

Despite the movies that show the superhuman who can do it all – that just doesn’t exist. Our differences in strengths and weaknesses are what make our relationships and partnerships so important and nuanced. Think about how eager you are to help those who need it. Why aren’t you just as eager to let someone help you? As you move towards 2021, think about all of the times you have felt overwhelmed and stressed out. Times when you likely needed a helping hand. Why didn’t you reach out and ask for help? 

In 2021, we need to be more willing to ask each other for help. Not only does it help us and our loved ones navigate all of these very confusing and overwhelming circumstances, but it also helps us build trust with one another. When we confide in others, it creates more trust within a relationship and deepens our bonds. 

It is okay to disconnect
We are connected at all times. Whether it’s through work emails, Tik Tok, Instagram, Facebook – we don’t take many breaks from our screen, and when we do, they are usually very short. There are so many challenging and disheartening things that have taken place this year, and if there is one thing that I have learned, it is that people LOVE sharing negative news. There is no judgment here, and I know that this is usually a way for people to feel like they are educating their followers or sharing something that can connect themselves and others. We all want the same thing, which is to feel connected with one another. 

However, for some reason, social media can seem like something that brings us together while it slowly tears us apart. If it isn’t someone sharing a sad or frustrating news story, then it’s someone else showing how great the lives are while we feel like we are falling apart. The lesson to be learned here is that you need to spend some time disconnecting from all of your screens because, before you know it, they are dictating how you feel and how you go about your day. 

Just because you get all of your work emails updated on your phone while you are working remotely does not mean that you are expected to work 24/7. The same goes for social media apps; just because you can look at them all day certainly does not mean that you should. Scheduling times for these activities and for work can make it easier for you to manage the amount of energy and time you spend absorbing all of the excessive information. 

Be grateful for what you have
As we just came out of the holidays, I am sure it was very easy for everyone to consider the things that were missing – family gatherings, parties, festivities. And I don’t want you to feel like you are wrong for feeling sad about these things, because me telling you that you shouldn’t do not change your feelings. It is absolutely fine to miss how things used to be before the dreaded year of 2020, but you should also express gratitude. We may not have big parties, as many activities to participate in, and our lives look incredibly different than how they used to be; however, there are still ways to find and express gratitude even through all of this chaos.  

Slowing down and seeing how quickly our lives can change gives us the opportunity to be grateful for what we do have. One of the most important things we have to hold onto and be grateful for is hope. Everything is temporary, and this situation is going to change. A time will come when the pandemic ends. While we may never go back to how things used to be, we will be able to interact with our family, friends, and coworkers like we once did. There is always a better day beyond the mess. We just have to hold tight, be strong, and be sure to appreciate all of the things we do have – the important stuff.

If you solely focus on what you are without, you will always feel like you are fighting an uphill battle. Things will always have a negative frame, and you are going to feel hopeless and bogged down by the weight of your perspective. I am not suggesting that you act like everything is fine and pretend you are happy – we are all struggling, and it is okay, to be honest about that. However, rather than focusing on what you are without, try to reframe your perspective to pay attention to the many incredible things that you do have. 

The Value of Human Interaction
Now, more than ever, we realize just how important to our health it is to spend time with those we love and care about. We are social beings and need to spend time together to feel connected and loved. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a particularly social person, you may find that you have missed hugging your parents, having face-to-face conversations, or going out for the occasional meal with your friends. No matter how many FaceTime calls and Zoom meetings you attend, nothing compares to giving someone a huge hug or sharing a meal. 

We have all missed out on celebrating the accomplishments and significant life moments of our loved ones, as well as our own achievements and big moments. I think it is safe to say that many of us didn’t realize just how important and valuable these moments are until we weren’t able to have them. As we move into 2021, we can take with us the lesson of the importance of spending time with another and reconnecting. We may not get back to this right away, but when we can finally meet back up with our friends and family in person, we will know just how precious and significant these moments truly are.

The importance of facing challenges together
2020 has been a year that has tested all of us on some many levels. We have faced a global pandemic, economic distress, civil unrest, and many other challenges that continue to force us to reevaluate our lives and struggle to make sense of all of the things that are going on. As we bring in the new year, it is essential to know that we are much stronger when we work together. When we are all faced with the same challenge, such as the coronavirus, it is not the right time to politicize the issue or let the external conflict divide us. 

We are much stronger when we display compassion and extend a helping hand rather than cross our arms and refuse to work together because we don’t see things eye to eye. If we come together, we are able to tackle so much more. Just like it is essential to ask for help, it is crucial to be willing to stand by each other and stand strong. 

 2021 is a year of hope and the promise of the chance to improve our current situation. We have much to learn from 2020, but if we can take these lessons into 2021 to make things better then we will have much to look forward to in the future. 

Jennifer Deputy-2.jpg

Hello, I'm Jennifer Deputy

I am a writer, blogger, and traveler. Being creative and making things keep me happy is my life's motto.

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