Gently Waving Goodbye To 2020
It feels like yesterday that Instagram was filled with goodbyes to 2019, “the worst year ever” and calls for the jubilant positivity of “2020 vision”. It is safe to say that no one planned for the year to come (although conspiracy theories abound that one comedian who didn’t want to do the 2020 Edinburgh Fringe Festival manifested everything that subsequently occurred). Jokes aside, 2020 has been a devastating year. We have gone through a collective experience of isolation, trauma and grief, and the end still doesn't feel like it's in sight. Many of us will be ringing in the new year under some form of lockdown, and yet I believe that it is important to gently wave goodbye to 2020 and to welcome in 2021. We can acknowledge that 2021 will be hard, whilst allowing ourselves to mark the transition, moving into this new period with kindness, grace and even a dose of sacred anger. But before we move into 2021, I want to give gratitude for the positive forces and the lessons learned in 2020.
It is undeniable that the lockdowns we’ve found ourselves placed in over the course of the year have brought their fair share of trauma. But the flipside is that we have been given the opportunity for solitude, something which modern western culture not only doesn't value but teaches us to fear somewhat. For me, this has been a year where I have had to get used to being on my own. Over the course of this year, I have found pleasure in being with myself and feel grateful to have build a friendship with myself.
ADAPTATION AND FLEXIBILITY
2020 certainly knocked most of us off our paths, forcing us to adapt in ways we never thought we would have to. For me, this meant cancelled shows were replaced with online readings and performing solo shows in people's gardens, Friday night drinks became zoom quizzes, and of course I traded in my day job to become a yoga teacher after qualifying in June. I’ve seen others adapt in ways that they didn’t even know they were capable of, some leaving jobs that made them unhappy, others using their free time to volunteer, and some giving themselves the much needed break that they so desperately needed. 2020 gave us the gift of adaptation.
Who would have thought that by separating us physically, people would have the opportunity to make more connections with people than before? For the first time in years I know who my neighbours are, I’ve made friends with whom I zoom with on a regular basis even though we’ve never met in person, and I’ve found little tribes of people with similar interests dotted over the internet. The opportunity for connection is out there, we just need to look.
This has been the year where many of us got back to nature; bike sales skyrocketed, people tended to their gardens for the first time, and even in December the heartiest among us can be seen bobbing in in the rivers and seas as wild swimming became the sport of the year. In the year where we were forced to slow down, we had the opportunity to look to our literal roots and rekindle that connection.
REASSESSMENTS OF VALUES
As the world was thrown into flux, it brought us the opportunity to reflect on our values and the things that are truly important to us. 2020 presented us with everything that wasn’t working and asked us how we fitted into the status quo, to take responsibility for the things we could change, and lend our voices and ears to those who needed allyship. It was a year of tremendous learning.
This year was full of anger, disappointment, and grief; emotions that many of us often struggle with. My go-to is to distract myself from difficult emotions, to keep so busy that they can't punch through, well ,2020 proved that wasn't going to work anymore. There was no where to run from the pain, no where to hide from the fear. We just had to feel it process it all the best we possibly could. Take a moment now to really appreciate yourself for getting through that. Oh, and anger is great, anger is a message being sent to you. Honour it. Use it for good.
Weddings, Christmas, meeting grandchildren for the first time, seeing our families; these are just some of the things we’ve had to let go of in 2020. Letting go is bloody hard, but when you can master letting things go, holy moly is it freeing. Let yourself mourn the things that were lost in 2020, allow the disappointment to move through you, and know that you will emerge stronger than ever.
Finally, if this year has taught me nothing else, it’s that even in the darkest times, always cling fiercely on to hope. As the old adage goes, ‘it is better to light a candle, than to curse the dark’. If you feel hopeless that is okay, just remember that feeling of hope. Sit with the memory of hope and let it fill your body, Just reminding yourself of that feeling can be enough.
I am immensely grateful even for the hardest lessons learned in 2020. This NYE there won’t be parties, or fireworks; maybe some will retreat to bed early, whilst others party the night away on zoom. Celebrate, grieve, skip the whole thing, do whatever you need to do. I will not be making resolutions for 2021, instead of working on self-improvement, I will be focusing Svadhyaya, the Sanskrit term for self-study. Maybe we can see 2021 as a gift; a time for self-discovery and kindness towards ourselves and others. Own your sacred anger, feel everything you need to feel, keep moving forward and don’t forget to enjoy the stillness. Embrace the solitude and keep finding connection.