Hindsight is 20/20. The common saying that eloquently expresses the idea that it’s easier to analyze and understand a situation that has happened in the past, than when living it in the present. I think this is even more apt when we look back at the past year.
2020 has been, by all measures, one of the strangest and most difficult years many have, and perhaps ever will experience. This past year brought civil unrest, social upheaval, political intrigue, financial hardships, fear, uncertainty and doubt all wrapped within the dark cloud of the Covid-19 pandemic.
For so many; our friends, our co-workers, our families, and ourselves, 2020 has been a year we want to forget. As 2021 is born, there seems a collective sigh of relief, optimism and hope.
Yet, even the dark pandemic clouds have silver linings. Being asked to stay home gave us time to evaluate ourselves, our world and how we fit within it. Despite, or perhaps because of, the Covid-19 pandemic, there have been many positive, and hopefully lasting changes to our lives. Here are a few.
We discovered our inner artist and genius
People learned new skills and discovered hidden talents. Learning to bake, play an instrument, start a passion project or gain knowledge and insight into other interests. We had the time to devote to new pursuits or hone skills in existing hobbies. In the end, we became more interesting versions of ourselves.
We launched cottage industries and side hustles
For some, they were able to take their hobbies or new skills to the next level and start a side hustle to generate a little extra income. Maybe it’s selling crafts, offering a community service or creating a podcast or YouTube channel. Whatever it is, 2020 was a great year to add a second income stream. We became more resilient and self-sustaining.
We discovered Essentialism
We were able to cut back on spending, simplify and get by with less. Maybe we had no choice with many stores and restaurants being closed or because of reduced income, or maybe it was a conscious decision. Either way, many people learned what is truly important in life. We focused on what moved us forward and what was a distraction. We put consumerism and the pursuit of accumulating more “stuff” in the back seat.
We physically distanced and socially reconnected
Despite the need to physically distance ourselves, and the restrictions on social gatherings, one of the essential areas of life we focused on was connecting or reconnecting with family and friends. Phone calls, text messages, social media and gathering over video chat. We are all in this together and discovered creative ways of maintaining bonds with those we care about.
We let the Earth breathe
With the economic slow down and other social restrictions, there was a reduction in the amount of greenhouse gas emissions globally. While this is not enough to undue the decades of damage we have done to the environment, the Earth was able to take a quick gasp of fresh air. Some cities reported cleaner air than they have in years. Other areas have reported the return of animals that were previously rare or missing. It gives us hope that we can change and reverse climate change if we all make an effort.
We let compassion run rampant
We have seen incredible acts of generosity, compassion and personal sacrifice for the greater good. We made and gave away masks. We ran errands for the elderly and the most vulnerable. Postponed visiting our loved ones who are at risk, even though it pained us to be distant. We smiled and said hello more to strangers because we knew they were struggling too, maybe more than we were. We supported local business when possible. We knew we all had to do our part, and in general, we did. It is our humanity that kept us going when we were unsure we could.
We recognized a new type of celebrity
Front line workers and those who work behind the scenes to keep the gears of civilization turning finally received the recognition and respect they have always deserved. We collectively acknowledged the real heroes and role models around us who put their lives to keep us healthy, to feed us, stock groceries, keep things moving, educating our children and keeping the electricity and water flowing. So many sacrificed so much…some sacrificed everything, to take care of us…to provide for us.
So, take a step back and reflect on the past year. Yeah, it was tough, but here you are. You have survived. That is something to be grateful for. I suspect you have many, many other things to be grateful for too. The past year is the past. Tomorrow is uncertain. Embrace this moment now, in whatever way you can. Face the future with a smile and with courage. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we are better than we thought we could be.
Stay safe, stay healthy and stay happy!