The year 2020 has been a doozy and this generation has never seen anything like it before. For a moment, it felt like the world actually stopped for a second and we were just moving in slow motion.
That may be true, but in the middle of all the hardship, 2020 has also been full of lessons. From the ashes, we’ve seen leaders rise up, we’ve seen people become advocates, we’ve seen people support causes they wouldn’t have been privy to otherwise, and people are changing and educating themselves to issues they traditionally overlooked.
I believe it’s because we are all learning. I can’t truly speak for others, but I can speak for myself. If it wasn’t for this season in life, we wouldn’t have been in a place where we had to face our reflection in the mirror. Quarantine forced me to ask myself something:
Is what I’m concerned about really worth the importance I’ve been placing on it?”
That thought started transforming my world view. I’ve gone through every emotion in my repertoire on a never-ending loop and despite my usual reservations or meekness, I’ve found a part of me that I didn’t think was possible.
I think many of us have.
Regardless of the darkness that we feel like we’re shrouded in, think about the growth you’ve experienced. I admit, it’s easy to get lost in the doom and gloom, but here’s my signal of hope. Some of us, including myself, are waking up to the power that we carry and who we are in 2020 is beginning to look a lot better than who we were in 2019.
I’m seeing the change in myself. I wonder, will you see these changes in you too? This isn’t going to be deep. It’s meant to be reflective so do just that — reflect.
These are the 5 things that 2020 has taught me.
1. Find your voice and refuse to lose it again
I was way too comfortable playing both sides of the fence when it came to personal relationships and talking about things that mattered. I was afraid to really offend anybody and I put a muzzle on myself in hopes to make everyone happy. Meanwhile, I struggled internally, constantly overwhelmed by the injustices I saw. I belittled the impact I could have on even one person…until Ahmaud, George, and Breonna. They made me realize that speaking out against injustices isn’t something I should ever consider as an option again. It has to be one with my nature. My community, the Black community, and so many others need people who are willing to say what needs to be said at the expense of themselves. Anyone can be an advocate and I want my legacy to be one where I fight for the good of my neighbor.
2. Never take anything for granted
The amount of loss we’ve seen this year has been truly unprecedented. We’ve seen record amounts of death. We’ve seen mass layoffs. We’ve seen industries completely tank to the point of no return. We’ve also lost things that were more personal to us like close human interaction. We don’t get to go to places like we used to or even sit down at a restaurant comfortably. This year was a great reminder to always be grateful for the things we overlook that we get to freely enjoy. Whatever we have can be taken away at a moment’s notice. We have to appreciate our blessings, even the small ones. I see that now more than ever.
3. Time for ourselves isn’t the enemy
I needed the time to myself. It shouldn’t have taken 2020 to slow me down, but something had to do it. In a culture that always stresses how we need to stay busy, it’s easy to to forget to take care of yourself. When our hands are always moving, when do we ever have time to stop, breathe, reflect, and then grow? Never. This year showed the significance of stopping and taking care of my star player — me. When everything around me was forced to slow down, I was given the opportunity to become a better version of myself.
4. Returning to “normal” isn’t something I’m interested in
There’s a lot of people who want to go back to normal, but quite frankly, that’s not something I ever want to live in again. Our normal has lacked accountability towards those who are doing wrong. It’s let racism and injustice be met with apathy and inaction. There was nothing at stake to help us be kinder to each other or push us to have the simplest form of empathy. Our normal looks like a lot of people not caring about anybody but themselves. When things settle down, I want something new — where the lessons we had to learn during 2020 are lessons we keep until 2021 and beyond.
5. Even when all hope seems lost, it’s not — but it may take some time to see that
Times like these have a way of helping us find strength in our seasons of weakness. They push us to innovate and attack our issues and problems in a different way. What we’ve gone through is tough and will be tough, but it does not hold the pen to our story. We do.
We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. — Martin Luther King Jr.
You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own. — Michelle Obama
If you’re like me, you’ve been challenged in every way possible. This year has come at a great cost, but I’m a believer in optimism and I hope that you are too.
We may not have all the answers and the toll it has taken may be great, but I know that we’re going to leave this year with a level growth that could have only come from what we’ve been through.