2020: A Lemonade Year
This year has been all about rolling with the punches and turning lemons into lemonade.
It’s the last day of the year, and whether I like it or not, it’s the most memorable to date. These are my reflections…
How I would explain 2020 to future generations
2020… It was the year of toilet paper, hoarding, hand sanitisers, and fear-mongering. We saw increased rates of suicide, mental health issues, and domestic violence. Millions of people were left feeling lonely and isolated during extended lockdowns or quarantines.
2020 was the year of conspiracy theories and polarising politics. Left or right. Masks or no masks. Vaccine or no vaccine. Black Lives Matter or Back the Blue. All this was magnified by social media.
It was a year of significant loss — in lives and in businesses. A global spotlight was cast on the injustice against George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others like them. It was a year of “we’ve had enough”. A year that sparked rage worldwide.
On a more positive note… It was also the year that accelerated digital transformation. It was the year of travel restrictions, physical distancing, online meetings, video calls, and virtual celebrations. Five years of digital transformation happened within just twelve months.
It became the year of self-awareness and discovery — a year of taking time out and self-care; learning new skills or revisiting old passions. A year of connecting and reconnecting with people we hadn’t seen or spoken to in years.
What I will remember of 2020
For me… I’ll forever remember this year as a shit show of epic proportions — the year when shit hit the fan. This clusterfuck of a year wasn’t only about the pandemic for me. It wasn’t just about me worrying about my mental health and finances as a result of it. No. The pandemic was the straw that broke the camel’s back — a back that was already heaped with other concerns of a personal nature.
What I learned about myself in 2020
For me, and I should assume for many others, 2020 was also a school year. Meaning… I learned a lot of lessons. It was a year in which I had my ass handed to me and was schooled by the school of life.
I learned many lessons, and here are the two most impactful lessons I’ve learned this year…
I need to give less fucks about what people think about me, put myself first, and say “No” more.
I’m only human. I’m not a machine. Now, some may think that, duh, this is obvious. But you need context. My environment growing up and the culture surrounding me has primed me to work hard with little regard for my wellbeing. The people around me were Yes-people — working late nights, over the weekends, and even while out with friends. I worked like a machine — in fact, I sometimes still do. It’s not an easy habit to break. A former employer had once said, in awe, that I was a machine. In retrospect, it was not something to be proud of. It meant that I was only as good as my A-game, which had to be every damn day — and I’m only human. So on the days that I wasn’t at the top of my game, I was the complete opposite of what a well-oiled or working machine would be — deadweight or useless. This revelation has taught me that it’s counter-intuitive for me to go the extra mile. I need to learn that it’s sometimes okay to say “No”. It doesn’t mean that I care less about the work. It just means that I’m trying to look after my wellbeing. It’s healthy to set boundaries and manage expectations. It may be uncomfortable in the short-term mostly because I’m such a Yes-person, but it’s way better for me in the long-term.
I don’t owe anything to anyone that has made me feel less than on more than one occasion.
I made a conscious decision to cut off communication with someone that has been like a brother to me. This person had helped me through one of the most challenging points in my life and knows things about me that very few do. I thought this person was a good friend, but their actions had increasingly showed me that they were selfish and an emotional bully. I can easily forgive this person and explain how they had hurt me with hopes of them changing. But let’s not kid ourselves. We can’t change people, but we can change who we associate ourselves with.
What gave me hope in 2020
Despite my mental anguish, I am grateful — so very fucking grateful — for all the people that helped me and gave me hope throughout the year.
People that believed in me when I was starting to feel worthless.
People that supported me when I couldn’t look after myself.
People that worried about me and checked in on me when I went radio silent.
People that didn’t judge me when I flaked or didn’t respond fast enough because I wasn’t feeling my best.
People that cheered me on when I had any kind of win.
People that gave me space when I needed it.
People that shared their pain — you made me feel understood and less alone in my struggles.
People that made a genuine effort to help.
To all of you that gave me hope — directly or indirectly — thank you so much. It’s because of you that:
- I’m still here.
- I was able to keep a roof on my head and put food on my table.
- I was able to get a new job.
- I was able to look after my loved ones in some small way — even though I was struggling myself.
- I was able to help others — even when I needed help myself.
Happy New Year, everyone. In 2021, I hope you will be happy, healthy, peaceful, loved, and free of suffering.