Things I Learned in 2020


Things I Learned in 2020 

It’s okay to be ready for 2020 to be over. It’s been a crazy year—one filled with experiences and challenges that none of us could have been prepared for.

But before we write the year off as a total bust, let’s pause to think through some valuable lessons that many of us learned. 


In no particular order, here are some things I learned in 2020: 


We’re more resourceful than we think.
I’ve never seen people get that creative on ideas ranging from homeschooling methods to decent toilet paper substitutes.   


We care about each other.
I saw people reach out to each other, if a senior person needed something, we would drop off to them, we helped single moms and dads, we became more kind and helpful.


Isolation can create anxiety or depression.
About six weeks into the quarantine, I was experiencing anxiety. The “what-ifs” began taking over my thoughts . . .  especially at 3 a.m. What if life never returns to normal? What if I do not see Brooke graduate? What if this is the end of the world? I would wake up every morning with a vague sense of dread. I was growing more miserable by the day. 

It wasn’t until I realized worrying about things will not change things.  I can only live for the day that I am in, we are not promised tomorrow 


We can stay home.
I remember those early days of quarantine when we wouldn’t leave our four walls for days on end. It seemed impossible at the time, but we did it. And in its own way, I’ll forever be grateful for that time together. It serves as a reminder to me now that I can stay home. I don’t have to book my calendar until it bursts. In fact, I shouldn’t. 


People in the medical field are the real MVPs.
While the rest of us were conducting Zoom meetings in our pajamas, doctors, nurses, EMTs, and firemen were diving headfirst into the front lines of the battle against Covid.  


We need healthy coping mechanisms.
For me this came in the form of writing a daily devotion and sending to my ladies group from my church as well as looking forward to church via zoom but it felt like we were a family and together. 


Sometimes you need to call someone.
I’m of the mindset that if something can be said in ten paragraphs or less, it’s a text conversation. But after not hearing the voices of the people I care about for weeks, I needed something more. Once I started calling people on the phone, I realized how much more it means to talk instead of text. 


Routines are helpful, but hold on to them loosely.
I’m a pretty routine person. I thrive with a schedule. With goals and tasks that can be checked off a list. But when the world shuts down, what do you do?? 


The internet isn’t evil.
Well, not all of the Internet is, anyway. It took my breath away when people and organizations began providing free content online to brighten someone else’s day. Museum tours, concerts, book readings, art tutorials . . . the Internet provided us with a vehicle to joy. 


Everything can change overnight.
We know this cognitively, right? But experiencing the phenomenon rocked me. It made me reconsider my priorities. My “stuff” suddenly took a backseat to my “people.” And that’s how it should be. 


It’s okay not to be okay.
I learned to stop asking my friends, “How are you today?” Because everyone was very not okay. When I learned to operate under that assumption, it helped me accept my own not-okayness. Also, I learned to be more specific when checking in with others: “Did you sleep last night?” “Can I do anything for you today?” “On a scale of one to ten, how is your anxiety right now?” 


Having fun is incredible medicine.
My house isn’t going to make it into Better Homes and Gardens, but I do like to keep it neatly styled. Each night before bed, I walk through the rooms and rearrange pillows and candlesticks so they’re just right. Fast forward to week five of the quarantine and Brooke and I had a box car in the living room, we took funny pictures and sent to family and friends to make them laugh 


This one is tough. But there are always going to be circumstances that are out of our control. Acceptance can feel like giving up, but it’s not. It’s understanding that right now is all you have, but right now is still important. 


Know what you know.
So many conflicting stories and news reports circulated this year. Make sure you read the facts before you spread the gossip.

We need community.
If nothing else, I think we can all walk away from 2020 with a deeper understanding of our own vulnerabilities. And one, undeniable need is the one of community. It’s the feeling that we’re not the only ones struggling. It’s the feeling that we don’t have to walk through darkness or fear on our own. It’s knowing that when something happens, good or bad, we have someone to share that with. We all need community. We need it yesterday, today, and tomorrow. 


Above all, I will move into 2021 knowing that I’m better than I was this time last year. Because when I look back on 2020, I’m struck with deep gratitude.


Gratitude for the lessons I learned. For the darkness that helped me appreciate the light. And for the people who linked arms with me to walk through it. And I hope that over the next 365 days, I can return the favor to them too. 


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