To say 2020 was a turbulent year would be the understatement of the century. The world literally shut down and as a result, we had nowhere to hide leading us to take a long hard look at ourselves. From dealing with grief of all kinds to understanding ourselves more, it has one of the transformative years of our lives. I spent the last few days looking back on the lessons I learned during the year and wanted to share them with you.
Being comfortable in my own skin
I learned to be more content with my body, listening to what it needs. Not punishing myself for feeding it some sugar and working out not because I wanted to shed the weight back off as quickly as possible but because I just needed to move my body and be active. There have been stages in my life where this would not have been the case. It made me realise reaching body neutrality is possible and is something I want to work on even more in the new year.
You can’t control what others feel about you
I spend a lot of my brain space worrying about what others think about me. I often say my opinion on something and then think, “great, this person now hates me”. It is quite debilitating because it prevents you from expressing yourself freely.
This year has been divisive in so many ways. We have all had conversations about quite serious topics with people either face to face or online. These conversations actually renewed my belief in myself. Speaking up about what I believe in, in a way I haven’t done for a while now has been quite liberating.
Sleep is paramount
Hands up if when you first started working from home you didn’t end up going to sleep until the wee hours of the morning or in my case, stayed up past your bedtime. Guilty as charged. I have gone through times when I was getting the sleeping I needed and others when it completely went off the rails. We all know the value of sleep but when you have a bit more time to actually analyse everything you do, you can actually see the changes within yourself and the impact it can have on you.
You have to make time for the things you love
Reading is something I think we all know I love but after years of reading on my commute or while traveling it is something I usually needed to carve out time for in my daily routine. This year I have had to be more meaningful in where I spend my time and place my energy.
It is ok to feel negative emotions
Anger, frustration, jealousy, sadness all have a bad reputation. We are conditioned to believe that feeling any form of negative emotion makes you a bad human. This is not true. The fact we actually feel these emotions is what makes us human. What matters are our actions upon feeling those emotions. I have felt more anger and frustration this year than I have in a while. It took me a while to recognise what I was feeling. I forced myself to sit with those feelings and process them. Only after processing them can you act rationally.
I need to journal
I have always kept a diary of some sort but I thought it was about time I actually started a proper journal noting down random thoughts, lists, memories, basically anything in my head without fear of it being judged. I will go into how I journal in the next couple of weeks but after doing it for a few months I can say I have found it very cathartic and healing. It is a great way to process your thoughts and helps you grow and develop as a person.
Now I didn’t want to make this post all about me. (I am really not that narcissistic) 2020 has been a monumental year for so many of us and I wanted to give some space for others to share their own so I did a bit of a shoutout and ask some friends to share their life lessons with us.
Focus on the things you can control and to let go of those you can’t – Sophie Cliff
The most important ones are I learned to live in present strongly and let go easily. – Anon
I would say patience and perspective. I’ve always been impatient and fickle.. very flighty and “buy now pay later” in every sense. This year I was forced to slow down and learn the value of time. I paid off my literal debts as well as learning to appreciate delayed gratification in life. Maybe it’s not great right now but it will make that FUTURE greater all the greater for having waited.
Perspective is an obvious one; Of course, someone else can always be worse off but that doesn’t diminish your current struggle. That said, a lot of my irritations are exactly what others would wish for in lockdown and so I have tried to build that into my daily gratitude practice as a reminder.. everything is temporary but appreciate what you have at this moment that someone else does not – Mikhila McDaid
It is good to prioritise yourself and put your needs first – Anon
My biggest lesson from 2020 would be to let go and accept what I can’t control. Having lost my job (and career) and also two wedding dates due to the pandemic I really learned to just go with the flow because sometimes that’s all you can do! It’s okay to not be in control all the time – Emily Jo Castle
Being grateful for the company of friends and family – Anon
I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned this year is to be grateful for all of the little things. I’m someone who often has a very busy schedule and I find it hard to slow down. After being forced to slow down early on in 2020, I started feeling gratitude for my daily walk, seeing more of my boyfriend and family, my morning coffee, and watching the sunset each evening. I hope that going into 2021, I can continue taking time out of my day to appreciate the little things. – Poppy
Learn to say no to tasks you don’t want to do or social events you don’t want to attend – Anon
Accept your mental health issues and get therapy. You’ll never be able to make decisions – Anon
There should be no room for negativity and hopelessness from anyone in your life. – Anon
This year taught us all the importance of togetherness and community. As we enter 2021 I hope you bring you everything you want in abundance and more. Here is to us, to me, to you, the person sitting next to you oblivious to what you are reading. May we all strive and grow in the new year.