How do you possibly encompass the dumpsterfire nightmare hellscape of a year?
We’ve used this year as a stand-in for all of the awful things that could possibly happen, well of COURSE it’s 2020! Overtime the year became synonymous with every possible calamity that could befall you. It’s been a roller coaster of disappointments but also achievements.
This was also the year our worlds turned inward. Who were we? What did we value? What was worth the risks to ourselves and our health. What relationships did we REALLY get support and value from? This was the year we all dug into deep wells of reserves to find something to give, or grace to offer, and we learned we had more resiliency than we imagined.
2020 became what I like to call “The Year of Lost and Found”.
This was the year of lost.
People lost loved ones. People lost jobs. For some of us our losses this year were mostly symbolic; of students in classrooms, being able to see family members, lifelong trips differed, holiday traditions altered, the sweet spontaneity of meeting new people and inviting them out, of parties and the small subtle ways we feel connected through hugs and handshakes. I know that for many, and some of you reading this, you cannot say the same.I am grateful every single day that I have a roof over my head and a job to put food on the table. I am sorry for the grieving you’ve had to bear this year. Still, each of us has shouldered so many losses each day that we’ve become numb and hollow to them.
We’ve lost that feeling of safety, of security, and we’ve been painfully aware that there is no one coming to save us. We lost the feeling that someone else was in charge.
This was also the year of found.
I found that managing my mental health was more important than I realized. Somehow we found new friends, and deepened connections to others over zoom. I found ways to take action to bring about the kind of change I wanted to see in the world. We learned that when you narrow your options, you learn rather quickly what matters most, and the realization that where your heart is and where your time is spent are often too far apart.
I found empathy in the struggles of so many around me. The parents who have been forced to shoulder the collective burden on our society’s repeated failures and who had the weight of this pandemic placed upon them at every decision. The friends who had babies and balanced a thousand choices to protect their newly formed family. The business owners trying to scrape & survive. The teachers who had to become experts in online education and deal with already staggering inequities while being reminded of the precise monetary worth of their own lives. The nurses and medical professionals abandoned by our myriad failures and told to keep pushing through waves of exhaustion. I want you to know that I’ve seen all of you, and I am so proud of all that you’ve done to get through this year and the months ahead.
You all are badasses.
We found joy in the wins both large and small. We found growth in the reckoning of our nation’s history laid brutally bare before us. The power of a community joining together to have their voices heard. A rescue dog named Roxy. A win in my husband’s love of cooking and appreciation for walks.The simple gifts of quality time and the reminder that you only appreciate what you have until it is taken from you.
We have all been exhausted by this year. There’s been so many wounds and so much pain. Everywhere we look we find examples not of hope but of despair, how can we live in a world where _______________ continues to happen. I know I’ve fallen into pits of bleakness sometimes, but my desire for all of us is that we are able to be hopeful about what is ahead; not because we are ignorant, but because we are brave.
Hope is all the more powerful because we are not certain about the positive outcome of what is ahead, and we choose to believe in it anyway. It is brave to hope and believe in a better world we can create together.
It is hopeful to strive to do SOME thing even if we cannot do EVERYTHING.
In the face of so much negativity, it is a bold, audacious, claim to stare at the darkness and demand faith that we can do something about it,
This last year my hope for you was that you’ve not had to dwell too long in the darkness. I hope that if you did you were able to find some shining star to guide you out, and that through it all you found some grace for yourself and for those around you.
If there’s something I’ll take from this year it is the power of what happens when everyone we know is going through the exact same thing at the same time. We could no longer pretend that we had it all together, or that no one was struggling. Suddenly, and for a time, we were able to talk about how we felt, were we thought we were failing. We were willing to carry burdens for others and let others help us with our own. 2020 gave us that, and I hope we don’t lose it.
I don’t know what 2021 will bring. I’ve begun to slowly allow myself the gift of planning for summer in the hopes we see some change. I fantasize about the party I will throw, with the Dolly Parton vaccine flowing in my veins as I belt out the lyrics to WAP which I have been waiting to debut in public. No matter what post-covid fantasies you indulge in for yourself I can say that the last year has changed us.
It had to.
I hope that you’ve let this year change you. I know this year has changed me, and it has changed us. I am not the same person I was in December of 2019. I know that I need people. I know that acknowledging our defeats and our mental health struggles is the only way to begin to heal them. I hope that you’ve picked up some awareness as well as a few vices along the way (oh the wine I’ve consumed!). I hope that this next year brings you joy, that you let yourself be changed for the better from all of this and you bring your new perspective with you into the post pandemic world waiting for us.
While I am ready to leave 2020 behind, I KNOW 2021 will only ask more of us all. Perhaps the bravest thing we can do is to hope for better, to believe in the unseen possibility and abundance of the world around us and use that to drive our actions.
I hope this new year brings you all the joy and abundance, peace, and forgiveness you can find. You deserve it.