I think we can all agree that 2020 was a complete surprise and not the nice kind of surprise. This global pandemic has brought so many people to their knees and so many people have lost loved ones, livelihoods, homes and more.
There are many years have been years that I have considered to be years of personal growth for me, such as 2008 which I spent mostly in and out of psychiatric units and addiction facilities. The year that I finally got clean from alcoholism and addiction. It was the most important year of my life – the year I chose life.
2020 will also be a year that stands out above the rest for me as I am sure it will for everyone else in the world today.
Here are my Lessons Learned From 2020:
Above all else gratitude is the one thing that stands out the most from 2020. Yes it was a hard year for me but my hard and the hard that others experienced is not in the same league at all.
My hard was not being able to walk on the beach when I wanted to. It was getting frustrated with being home with kids and trying to juggle work, home, kids and schoolwork. Other people lost lives, homes, loved ones, income and more.
I am grateful that my kids and hubby are alive and well to frustrate me at home. I’m grateful that while things were hard for me from a mental health perspective I have been taught many tools to cope and my mental health is as good as I could hope for in a situation like 2020.
I was taught in rehab that everything, even the awful things in life, offer a gift. I believe my biggest gift from 2020 is that I can be truly grateful for everything that I have in my life.
The Juggle Got Real
I have always found school holidays, in particular the long December holiday, very trying. It is not easy managing kids, a household and working.
During 2020 this juggle was taken to a whole new level with adding in kids being home for months and having to home school them on top of everything else. I never knew I was capable of taking on so much more than the normal difficulty of school holidays.
Suddenly school holidays, especially December, became a treat because I didn’t have to add in schooling my kids! Funny how one’s perspective can change so much in such a short space of time.
For the first time since having kids I was really looking forward to the December holidays rather than the usual dread that used to creep in.
The Importance Of Connection
In one way we spent this year so disconnected from others due to being stuck at home and not being able to visit friends and family, however I found that I actually connected with people more.
My kids and I went to stay with my parents on their farm for the hard lockdown so that my kids could run around and be kids. So we had three months of amazing quality time with my parents. It was hard being away from my husband and yes some parts of that time was hard for other reasons such as sharing a bedroom with my 2 kids for 2 months.
However when we left the farm it was with very mixed feelings, the excitement of going home and seeing my husband, but also knowing that when we left the farm there was no way to go back and visit my parents until this pandemic is over. My dad has diabetes and had kidney cancer in 2018, add in the fact that he is male and 70, so he is in the highest possible risk category.
The result is that 6 months has gone by without visiting them. However we video call each other every few days on Whatsapp when pre-pandemic sometimes we would go weeks without connecting.
I’ve found myself connecting more with phone calls and video calls with friends and family in 2020. I’ve come to realise more than ever how important it is to connect one on one with loved ones, rather than on social media.
While some things got very hectic like juggling my kids and their school work with my work in another way things really slowed down. There were no extra activities at school when the kids went back to school in June, there was no hectic social calendar for my kids and their friends or invites to events.
I found it very amusing that at the start of the hard lockdown even my spam emails, phone calls and texts completely stopped. It was like time stood still and I was just at home with my family.
I had to slow down my work, partly because work slowed down a lot (nobody needs advertising during a pandemic when their businesses have to close due to lockdown) and also because even if loads of work was coming in I would not have been able to manage it with the kids being home so much and having to help them with their school work.
It is so easy to get caught up in all the daily distractions. Slowing down and focusing only on my family unit on a day to day basis has been amazing and it has reminded me where my priorities lie.
Empathy and Helping Others
While I did take a bit of a mental health knock and it was hard to earn an income in 2020, we have been very fortunate. We still have a roof over our heads, food on our table and our family is healthy and safe.
It has been incredibly hard watching other people lose so much from my place of safety and comfort. I saw the mental health of some of my friends and family decline in a scary way, I saw friends being evicted during level 5 of the lockdown due to not being able to pay rent, I saw friends losing their jobs and loved ones.
It has reminded me that while I may not have much I have more than enough and I need to help others where I can.
In October I hired a lady to come and clean one morning a week. She is one of 5 sisters, from Zimbabwe, and she only works for me. One of here sisters works full time and the other 3 are unemployed. I asked her how she coped and she said that it has been so hard because they get no assistance from anyone and for months none of them were able to work. She has a 5 month old baby. I cannot even imagine how they managed to get by.
So I’ve been decluttering my home and sending toys and blankets home with her for the little ones. I’ve cleaned out my cupboards, since my clothes appear to have shrunk during lockdown. I also send our left over food home with her each week.
I’ve asked her to stay home for at least 2 weeks so we can see what is happening with the second wave, but I am paying her for the mornings she would have worked.
A few people in our road have had covid-19 and some of the neighbours are still struggling to recover from it. A few months back I cooked for a neighbour that lives alone and delivered the food to his door every evening while he was sick. I’m cooking for 4 every night anyway, so its not a biggie to add another plate of food. I’ve also been doing shopping for people in our road that are quarantining. I shop once or twice a week anyway so once again it is not a huge inconvenience to add their shopping needs in my trolley.
This pandemic has taught me that it is a time to help others wherever we can.
Sharing this is not about blowing my own horn about what I’ve done to help others. It is a reminder that no matter how little you think you have, there are so many people that have nothing right now. So please take a moment to think about what you don’t need or what you can do to help someone else.
It may just be phoning someone every day to lift their spirits if you know they are struggling, the mental health impact of this pandemic is sure to be devastating.
Misinformation and Conspiracy Theories
I have watched in horror as the USA falls apart and the misinformation and conspiracy theories fly around. Honestly I find it scary how so many people are believing all the crazy stories that are doing the rounds. I’m not going to get into it all since it has been all over the news and social media, unless you have been living under a rock in 2020 you know all about the crazy things that have been happening. All I can say is OMG!
I will only recommend that you add Death To 2020 on Netflix to your watch list. It is absolutely brilliant We could all do with a good laugh right now. Watch the trailer below.
What lessons did you learn in 2020 and how have you managed to survive the year? Share your thoughts in the comments.