Seven Lessons I’ve learned so far in 2020

Personal Growth

I’m not sure about you but 2020 has been by far one of my most profound teachers.

I’ve seen plenty of memes with messages like ‘can we start over’, ‘have we tried alt, control, delete on 2020 or just unplugging and turning it back on’ and I totally get it. This year has been exhausting, testing us in so many ways and it’s not over yet in fact we are only seven months in.

If only we’d been given an end date to the chaos or a gestation period like a pregnancy for example, things might have been easier.

Perhaps if we’d been pre-warned on New Year’s Eve to enjoy that free spirited sip of champagne and then buckle in for the ride of most of our lives.

But life doesn’t work like that, we don’t always know what’s coming.

It’s the surprise element that keeps us grappling, learning and on a level playing field in some regards. No one I know of had a heads up and rushed to buy shares in Sorbent.

I’ve recently taken some time to reflect on the year so far, a practice I often like to do after Winter Solstice here in the Southern Hemisphere. I’m also sitting here writing this in the sunshine but with a head cold, something else that we all think of differently nowadays. So much has changed.


Seven Lessons that I’ve learned so far this year;


Uncertainty is the only sure thing


Just as change is the only constant, not knowing 100% what will happen in our immediate or far off future is the only thing we can be totally sure of. 2020 and Covid19 has really brought this truth into the spotlight. We all knew it on some level but we’d become so used to living in a way that was far more under our own jurisdiction. We set goals for the year and then go do them (or not) but it felt like it was largely up to us.

Instead, this year we’ve been told what to do and our lives have been impacted severely by circumstances outside of our control. We’ve had to learn to live with uncertainty.

There is no denying the reality of how little we can be sure of and while this was at first deeply unsettling, in a way it takes the pressure off. We don’t have to control outcomes, we just need to take responsibility for how we respond.


Patience really is a virtue


It was one of the repeated phrases I recall when growing up and now, finally I really understand it. Patience is “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious.” The key here is managing your emotional tendencies towards anger and anxiety and that’s not easy when things aren’t going to plan.

A virtue is a human trait or quality deemed to be morally good and something that helps promote “individual and collective greatness.” I think of patience as being required when you’re in limbo or waiting for something to go your way that is currently outside of your sphere of influence.

We can see then how being able to tolerate discomfort and uncertainty without resorting to anxiety, overwhelm or reactions involving anger is definitely a virtuous trait to cultivate. Not only does it play a huge part in your own health and wellbeing but emotions are contagious, so learning to manage your own is a gift to those around you.


Love crosses borders and boundaries


I am just one of many people separated from family in 2020 by border closures and travel restrictions in efforts to curtail this virus. If I knew what was about to unfold before I moved to another country last year I would have delayed my move. I couldn’t have imagined going this long without hugging my loved ones. But seeing as I didn’t know and here I am in this position, I’ve learned about the strong connections that can be built and nurtured at a physical distance. Thank goodness for technology making it easy to connect and communicate. The other practice I have cultivated is holding my loved ones close in an energetic sense by thinking of them and sending loving thoughts and intentions often.

There are no restrictions to love.


We are stronger than we think


So, imagine you were sipping on champagne on the eve of this year when someone handed you a note, fortune cookie style and it read ‘Happy New year, in 2020 you will experience severe restrictions on your social life, health fears, a threat to your job or business and livelihood. Your town may escape severe impact from a rampant virus or it may be taken out and you will lose multiple friends and family. You will be separated from loved ones and face an unprecedented situation in which we cannot guarantee anything really, good luck’.

You would have been freaking out right! And yet, here we are. You are reading this and you are alive and okay. You may have taken a big hit financially or to your health but here you are now, so much stronger than you probably gave yourself credit for.


We can all live with a lot less


Who else admits to saving money while in lockdown? Aside from a few desperate online purchases (wax strips for leg hair I could no longer look at and some warm things as the wintery air began to chill), our household spending was significantly less that normal. I had previously thought we were living on as little as we could without feeling deprived but I was wrong. Without driving everywhere, eating out several times a week and grabbing coffees on the go as well as those spontaneous purchases you make just because the thing has been placed in your line of vision we spent far less and it felt good.

A caveat to this point. If you have a hospitality or retail business and you’re rolling your eyes right now, I am back to spending money this way because I do deeply care about your livelihood and I love good food and nice things. However I’m a lot more conscious of where my dollars go and I choose local, small businesses wherever I can.


It’s not just weddings and funerals that bring out the best and worst in us


It’s clearly, pandemics too. So many of my friends and clients commented along these lines “I’ve seen some terrible posts on Facebook, from people I thought were my friends”.

What do you get when you mix, fear, anger, grief, loss, alcohol and social media? Wild unfiltered hate speech is what.

On the flipside, what do you get when you mix, all the emotions and suffering with people who have done some work on themselves, healed wounds and genuinely care what’s happening on a larger scale? You get positive movements, words and acts of love.

Both have been very much in evidence. We get to decide who we follow and where we stand on issues we care about. We are also 100% responsible for the words and vibes that we put out.


2020 is asking us to Wake Up


Black Lives Matter was founded in 2013 in the United States, advocating for non-violent civil disobedience in protest against incidents of police brutality against African-American people. In 2020, it has risen to the forefront and now speaks more broadly for All Black Lives around the world and the racism and brutality endured everywhere. We are waking up to the fact that this occurs, it has been occurring for an extremely long time and it’s NOT okay. We are being asked to listen, to educate ourselves (as whites) and stand in solidarity to eradicate the virus of racism.

2020 has also asked that we wake up to environmental destruction URGENTLY. That we think about our local communities and economies and support them instead of looking for cheap and disposable options. We are being called to wake up to issues of human rights and sustainability on all fronts right now if we are to survive and thrive in the future.

I know it can feel completely overwhelming at times but think about the consequences if we stick our heads back in the sand? There is too much at stake and although waking up always comes with feelings of discomfort, we would do best to embrace this opportunity to see clearly, change our thoughts, words and behaviours and in doing so, help change the trajectory for all of us.