Well, I know I’m not alone when I say that last year was super eye-opening for me. I’ve been luckier than most people; my family and friends are safe and healthy, I have food and shelter, I’m able to focus on my education. “Blessed” is honestly an understatement when it comes to describing my 2020 experience. But even though I haven’t suffered as much as some people have, the year was not without its challenges. I feel a bit guilty for saying that I had a difficult year when so many lives were lost and so many sacrifices were made. But I am learning to show myself grace because I’m human and life isn’t about comparing our struggles.
As with most years, 2020 had its ups and downs. Fortunately, even the downs ended up having positive experiences attached to them, even if it took a little while for me to realize that. In no particular order, here are 17 lessons I learned in 2020, plus 3 habits I’m working on this year.
1. Taking a chance is ALWAYS worth it in the long run. There’s a 50/50 chance that things will go how you exactly planned them. The lessons you’ll have learned will make for great stories in the future.
2. It’s okay to take time to feel sad and mourn your losses, whether it be the loss of a loved one, the end of a relationship, or missing out on an experience.
3. Progress is still progress, no matter how small. Don’t let anyone minimize your accomplishments!
4. Cherish your time spent with people you care about and never take those moments for granted.
5. Set clear boundaries and don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about them.
6. Be extremely picky when it comes to choosing who has access to you and your life. Life is too short to waste being surrounded by people who don’t appreciate your worth.
7. Don’t let your happiness be dependent on another person.
8. Give yourself space to be creative, even if you think you’re not good at something. Practice makes perfect, and you honestly don’t even need to be working towards perfection. Just find something you like doing and make it a part of your daily routine.
9. Practice grace and show gratitude to yourself. You are human, therefore you are imperfect, just like everybody else. Learn to recognize and embrace the gifts you bring into the world, without beating yourself up for your flaws.
10. Open your window and let in some sunshine.
11. Dye your hair. Or chop it all off. Be a little adventurous while you still can. It’ll grow back!
12. Drink water (instead of just coffee). Hydration can do wonders for your mood, not to mention your overall health.
13. Reach out, even if you don’t think they’ll reply. You might get a response or you won’t hear back from them, but either way, you’ll get the answer to your question.
14. Listen to new music. Buy a used CD and blare it in your car in the middle of the day. I promise you’ll feel a million times better about whatever is bothering you.
15. Don’t work so hard to please people, especially when it’s at the expense of your own peace.
16. You have to first acknowledge the things you’ve lost, in order to work towards the things you want. In a year filled to the brim with loss, we all deserve a chance to wallow for a bit before getting our lives back on track.
17. Take a break- from technology, people, social media, life in general. You need it whether you realize it or not. Give yourself a chance to detox from the constant flow of information and news. It’ll still be waiting for you when you come back.
3 Habits for 2021
1. Set one achievable goal for each day.
I tend to make extremely detailed lists of what I’m going to accomplish during the day. And then I get completely overwhelmed and end up not following through on it. So this year, I’m going to try and be realistic by setting a daily goal that I know I’ll be able to accomplish.
2. Write more and share my work with others.
Okay, this is technically a two-part goal but we’re gonna pretend it’s just one. I wrote a ton of poems last year (we can thank quarantine boredom and a breakup for that) but I haven’t shared them with anyone. This year, I want to continue writing (especially on this blog) and also get more comfortable sharing my work with people. I feel like feedback is such a critical part of writing but I rarely ever ask for any, outside of proofreading school assignments. So if anyone wants to read my slightly melodramatic poetry, please let me know!
3. Take more risks.
Looking back, I actually did take a lot of risks last year. Nothing bad or unsafe, I promise! But I think taking little risks (like dyeing my hair pink and doing a crazy photo shoot at 3am) helped me grow in my confidence. Even though not everything went exactly how I planned it, it always gave me a chance to get out of my comfort zone and learn more about myself. So we’re gonna keep doing that this year and see where it takes me!
Overall, I am cautiously optimistic about this year. I definitely am not getting my hopes up that 2021 is going to be the best year of my life, but hey, after last year, I have to be a little hopeful! And even if I’m wrong, I know that we’ll be able to get through it!