A look back at what 2020 can teach us

      2020 was a difficult year. There is no doubt about it. All around the world people found themselves struggling against a virus that took over their lives, directly or indirectly, threatening not only their health but also their jobs, financial stability, relationships. All of a sudden we had to adapt to a brand-new world, one of lockdowns and face masks, of fear and uncertainty.

   Now, this isn’t over yet. We all know we have a rough winter ahead of us. But with the coming of a new year and the vaccination programme rolling out in several countries, there is a promise in the beginning of the new year. A promise of better things to come. 2021 brings with it a new hope.

   Even though this year the New Year’s celebrations were kept to a minimum, or, in some cases, completely cancelled, some traditions remain. One that seems to be particularly strong is making resolutions. Looking ahead in anticipation and excitement of all the things that will be better this year.

   For me, though, the idea of contemplating what’s to come isn’t particularly appealing. I still live with uncertainty, both professionally and personally, and I have no inkling as to what to expect in 2021. Not yet. So, instead, I’d rather look back at 2020 and reflect on it. It is said that in everything in life there is a lesson to be learned. So, what lesson can I take away with me from 2020? What have I learned that will motivate me to become a better person?

   My answer is this: never take anything for granted.

   2020 started with a lot of plans. I knew exactly what I was going to be doing all the way through to the end of the summer. My plans involved quite a few trips, some summer festivals, visiting friends that are living relatively far away, a steady income at a job where I had just gained a pay rise. Things were looking up.

   Then the world decided it had other plans and pulled the rug from underneath my feet. As it did for the majority of people. A pandemic became the norm. Forget about travelling, all parties and music festivals were cancelled, never mind getting together with groups of friends. We became secluded, for our own good, fighting this invisible enemy that threatened the life of so many. My pay rise went up in smoke, I was furloughed for the better part of the year (still am), and all my plans were scratched. Back to the drawing board. Only the drawing board remained blank. There was nothing much to do except wait.

   More than anything, 2020 was particularly painful on my mental health. I hadn’t felt so lost and confused in a very long time. Managing my depression while not being able to benefit from my usual coping mechanisms was challenging. But, after a while, I discovered other coping mechanisms. I learned how to take more advantage of the internet and calls (especially face time) with loved ones. I learned how to exercise at home. Alas no, I didn’t learn how to bake my own bread (sorry, that’s a trend I can not get on board with!) but I did learn a lot that helped me to change the way I look at things. But most of all, I learned not to take things for granted.

   My job, how easily I could travel between countries, my independence… All of those things I always took for granted. A night out at the pub was so easily arranged! A dinner with a couple of friends, what could be easier? Going out to the cinema, getting on a train for a day trip to London, such things were so mundane to me! Not anymore.

   Now the world is on its way to recovery, I know I’ll need to do better in enjoying the little things (as soon as I can). I miss travelling, live music events and dinners with friends more than anything! Things that I always thought would be there, whenever I needed or wanted them. Now I know better. Now I know everything can be taken away. Our freedom is not a given, it’s a privilege!

   Going forward, I hope I’ll keep this memory with me wherever life takes me. I hope I get to make more of an effort and appreciate the life I can have in a world after the pandemic. I hope I remember not to take things for granted, even the little things, the smallest of things.

   What has 2020 taught you?

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