I had a therapist once tell me to always replace the word but with and (in a sentence) if both things were true. Take 2020 for instance, it was the wake-up call we all needed AND it sucked at the same time. See, both things are true.
I, like many of you, have had my fair share of challenges this year – grieving the passing of a dear friend, homeschooling a child with special needs, the weight of so much hate all around us, and just the constant worrying for my friends and family to remain safe. I kept looking for the silver lining, but some days it was non-existent.
However, as someone who studies human behavior for a living, I can now see why this year had to happen. The life we called normal was no longer serving humankind. It felt comfortable for many of us, yes, but nothing great ever comes from comfort zones. We needed 2020 to awaken us from this ignorant slumber.
We as humans subscribe to this cult of the hustle…overworking, over-functioning, overachieving, over-EVERYTHING. We wear this badge of busyness with honor. We think it increases our value, but what it really does is allow us to miss the good stuff. The stuff that never makes it to the to-do list. And what this year has taught us is that we have been placing value on all the wrong things.
I, personally have seen the life-changing shift that would have never have happened if things remained status quo. I have seen people leave unhealthy relationships, families reunite around the dinner table, health has become our main priority, and the power of the collective standing for causes they may have never paid much attention to in the past. We have deepened our connection and respect for nature, and essential workers got the recognition they always deserved – stocking shelves, delivering packages, and saving lives, while risking their own.
So, 2020 was not for naught*. I needed to somehow document the good stuff because I was consumed by the darkness of it all. On a hot summer day in July, I started to timeline out all that happened, highlighting not only my own experience but what I have observed from others as well. I don’t believe anyone will forget 2020 but when life returns to semi-normal, I for one, want to hold on to the lessons, the value shift, the power of that much needed pause. I am still perfecting it, but thought to share the rough draft with all of you.
We all had such great hope for 2020, the start of a new year and decade. As we closed out 2019, we toasted and blew horns excited for what was to come. And then, in a matter of months, our lives changed dramatically. We were stripped of all our plans, goals, dreams, jobs, and unfortunately, many lives were lost as well. I honestly thought the worst of it was going to be the death of Kobe…and believe me, that was a complete and utter gut punch. But not too soon after, 2020 sent a deadly virus our way – as well as wildfires, earthquakes, floods, murder hornets, an economic recession, racial injustice, political divisiveness, RBG’s passing, and the unfortunate loss of 1.5 M lives worldwide (due to Coronavirus).
That same therapist that encouraged me to replace ‘but with and’, also shared that when we don’t take time to learn our lesson the first time, we won’t progress until we do. This thought always leaves me curious, but this year, feverishly so. What possible lesson(s) is 2020 trying to teach us, that we may have dismissed or avoided the first go around? How can all that we experienced this year help us level up? I have some thoughts on what some of those lessons may be….
Lesson #1: Family and friends are the nectar of life
The importance and connection we have with family and friends deepened in 2020. The abrupt slowdown in modern life has given people a chance to enhance relationships and create new rituals together. Families had more time to cook and eat meals together, engage in meaningful conversations, play games, have movie nights, and immerse themselves in nature.
Some of us couldn’t get together physically, so we sent our love, hugs, and well wishes via zoom and facetime. It wasn’t the same, but it made us appreciate the people who sometimes we don’t make the time for.
Take inventory of those people throughout 2020 who called/wrote/zoomed to say “How are you? How are you coping? Is there anything you need?. 2020 has most definitely revealed our wolf-pack. Those are the people who should always top our to-do-list.
Lesson #2: Prioritizing our health and working to eliminate the existing health disparities
What 2020 has taught us is the greatest wealth is health. 2020 made us pay closer attention to our mental and physical wellbeing and tend to any unusual symptoms. We rested when needed. Consumed healthier, home-cooked meals. Exercised more. Meditated/prayed. Spent more time in nature. We took the necessary meds. And put our trust in health experts. 2020 has taught us to never take your health for granted again.
2020 also revealed the health disparities in the COVID-19 crisis, which called attention to long-standing inequities that pervade the health care system and society at large. Among those affected, communities of color bared the brunt of the pandemic. African Americans and Latinos in the US have been three times more likely to contract COVID-19 than white residents and nearly twice as likely to die from it. If we learn anything from this it’s that policymakers, health systems, and public health authorities need to turn attention to concrete steps that can be taken to ensure that recurring patterns of health disparities do not repeat themselves.
Lesson #3: Slowing down and resetting priorities
The cult of hustle came to a halt in 2020. It granted us the ability to appreciate the pause. 2020 forced us to abandon overburdened schedules and workaholism in favor of leisure, emotional wellbeing, and more sleep. Our homes became a sanctuary rather than this lair of loneliness. Quarantine gave us time to reflect upon our lives, priorities, beliefs, dreams, shortcomings, relationships, passions, and goals—something that feels impossible to do when life is moving at lightning speed. 2020 has allowed us to prioritize time affluence…more presence, less preoccupation.
Lesson #4: We are nature’s virus
When we were all at home during the lockdown, nature seemed to flourish. Research done during that time showed a 500% decrease in sewage and industrial effluents in rivers. The noise level was reduced up to 35%-68% all over the world, and we saw wildlife come out from their hiding place and reclaiming their land.
We are all visitors on this planet, but we have started behaving like owners, doing what we please, without asking permission. 2020 has revealed how much we violate this planet, we pollute it, and destroy it for personal gains, without realizing that this world does not belong to us, we are only tenants. This year has required us to reflect upon how we have contributed to the destruction of nature and the action we need to take to fix it.
Lesson #5: The importance of self-care
In 2020, self-care is not vanity, it’s sanity. This year has taken a toll on our mental wellbeing. Whether it was the anxious panic we experienced every time we left the house or the loneliness we suffered in isolation, we have realized that self-care has become less of a luxury and more of a priority. We fixed up our homes and purchased things to make us feel comforted. Candles, plants, and body care sales saw an uptick, as people created these self-care sanctuaries inside their homes, and designed new rituals to get through these trying times. 2020 has revealed to us the importance of making self-care a discipline & daily practice.
Lesson #6: Racism Is Another Virus to Eradicate
2020 has opened our eyes to the deep-seated racism that previously existed and continues to exist in our society. It is more obvious now than ever before that what we were taught about America being The Land of the Free was true for some people, but not for all. Seeing these atrocious acts of injustice and hearing the message from protesters has been a catalyst for white people to come to terms with their own biases and ignorance. This is the year where we unlearn everything we know, re-educate ourselves, act on those learnings, and use our white privilege for good.
2020 has been a helluva year, Daily Feelers, but like every great uprising, comes an opportunity. This is our chance to experience the ultimate universal growth spurt – to right all the wrongs, effect positive change, and come together as a collective to ensure when we look back, we know we had a hand in one of the greatest transformations of our time. 2020 is not the end of the world. It’s the beginning of a new one.
Be safe, stay well and Happy Holidays/New Year, Daily Feelers.
*I do not want to discount the heartache and loss that this year has brought people around the world…lives were lost, jobs were stripped away and justice in many cases did not prevail. I truly understand why those affected want this year to go away and be forgotten. I honor everyone’s thoughts and experiences had in 2020.
Janis Gaudelli is The Founder of The Daily Feels. She started this passion project to reveal the magic behind storytelling, and how truth-based narratives bring people together in the most heart-warming of ways. Fascinated by soul, depth, intellect, raw truths, and rebellion with a cause. Often captivated by the awe of nature: star gazing, moon manifesting, sunset chasing, waves crashing, crickets singing. Fiercely curious about the inner-workings of the human psyche… she professionally studies human behavior for a living. Forever proud and grateful for being a mom to the force that fuels her life: her 9-year-old son, and greatest professor, Kellan.