The Lessons 2020 Taught Me

2020 was a YEAR! I think that’s one thing we can all conclusively say! There was literally no way any one could have predicted the turn it took for the entire planet, but while the majority of conversation regarding 2020 is very negative whether politically, socially or financially; for me- 2020 genuinely was a great year! This coming from the person who was laid off at the beginning of March. Trust me when I say, it literally is all about perspective and you have to choose to focus on the blessings you have, instead of what you don’t. Trust me. So, hear me out and let’s see the lessons I am learned in 2020, I hope you can take some of them with you as well!

Falling in love with yourself, is the first secret to happiness.

– Robert Morely
Lesson 1: Self Love

You probably hear or read about it all the time, you cannot expect someone to love you if you cannot love yourself. All true, but part of self love and care is accepting yourself as you are. Yes, we all have and carry wounds and scars from our pasts, we all have character traits which aren’t the best, but also have to give ourselves grace with the fact that it takes time to unlearn these behaviours. If you want to change something about yourself, you not only have to accept you possess these traits, but you also have to see them. Love yourself in spite of this. Love is patient, it is kind, these are the words we need to be repeating to ourselves. I have spent a lot of time over thinking and in some ways feeling major regret over some of the things in my recent past. Wondering why I didn’t make certain decisions sooner, wondering why I chose to move my daughter half-way across the world in order to keep up the front of a united family when in fact things were crumbling. Wondering why I chose to start my life all over again from scratch at the age of 35, when I could have done it sooner? So many questions and so many feelings, but at the end of the day- I am so glad I made the decisions when I did. I know that on the days when I felt extremely low- I look at where I am and I know- I couldn’t have been anywhere else. In some ways, I have always known that I could rely on myself- I just lost my way a bit. Give yourself grace, honesty, it will only attract good things.

Success isn’t about how much money you make. It is about the difference you make in people’s lives.

Michelle Obama
Lesson 2: Curate Your Circle

I was thinking about this the other day, about my chosen family; the people who began as friends and are essentially family, the ones who breathe life and love into me. The ones who lift me up and speak hard truths to me when I don’t want to hear it. I may not have a huge circle of friends, but what I know I have, are people who have my back. People I trust and people I love. I am so grateful for these people, because in many ways they were the glue that held my 2020 together. After moving into my place and with the ongoing pandemic, I wasn’t able to have people over, my circle stayed very small. But at night, after putting Neveah to bed- the house gets really quiet and I get in my own head. I realized that I appreciate the stillness, but I don’t like it. I’m not used to being alone and it’s not something I want long term, but what I’ve found, is that in the stillness- when you reach out to your friends- you make connections. This year, I was able to reaffirm old connections and I was able to find out who my true friends were; I opened up and I shared things about myself that I would have normally bottled up or tried to deal with alone, but I also learned to ask for and accept help. I learned that in order to find love again, with yourself or otherwise, you have to be vulnerable in order to truly connect. The right people will fill you up, they will feed into you and you into them, the right tribe are enriching and I am hell bent on loving mine extra hard!

Lesson 3: Set Boundaries

I am that person, I struggle to say no to people, I might be squirming or dying internally, but I will bite the bullet and say yes even if my insides are on fire. I did for far too long and to my own mental and emotional detriment. In 2019, I decided I would do this no more and although a lifetime of habits is hard to break I have to say that setting boundaries was the best thing I could do for myself. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t come with major levels of guilt; where I felt I was letting people down. But, it was liberating, I was no longer spreading myself thin for people who weren’t doing it for me. I will no longer entertain people who do not align with similar beliefs or principles, I will no longer shrink myself in order to make someone else comfortable and I will not hide who I am. If something isn’t filling me with joy or some form of enjoyment, then I won’t feed into it. (I should note, I am not referring to relationships, I expect hard times to come and I am not the type to jump ship at the 1st sign of an issue). What I am referring to is allowing people to use me, allowing myself to be taken advantage of and under appreciated. In my previous relationship, this was something I put up with for much longer than I should have and whether it was love, fear or not wanting to be perceived as giving up- I remained. But that pattern has shattered, at the end of the day- I have to be able to look myself in the mirror and be happy with the decisions I make. I want and deserve to be happy, I want and deserve to be loved, protected and supported. And if this isn’t something that I can receive- then please kindly proceed to the nearest exit.

A negative mind, will never give you a positive life.

Lesson 4: Gratitude, Gratitude, Gratitude

This. This. All of this. I cannot in any good faith look back at 2020 and say it was not a year I am grateful for. I would be flat out lying. I was a caterpillar in 2019 and I came into full bloom in 2020. Be it about myself, my life, my mental health. All of it. After moving back to Montreal from the UK, I knew I had to begin again, but this didn’t seem daunting- it was very exciting. For the 1st time in years, I was able to make decisions on my own and to be honest it was very overwhelming at 1st, but I embraced it. I was able to move into my own place, furnish and purchase everything in there, I bought a car, in my own name for the 1st time in my entire life. I got my job back later on in the year (after being laid off at the peek of the pandemic) and I began dating again! Say what?! (Don’t be nosy) I became and aunt for the 1st time, I will be an aunt again soon, I watched my daughter make connections with adults within our circle whom she trusts and just seeing her blossom into her own person without me is scary and exciting at the same time. I am blessed to have people who look out for me and provided me with things for my place, I totally DIY’d a lot, because I had nothing but time. But every night when I sit on my couch and look around, I am nothing but grateful. How can I not be? I have a stable, loving home, I look at my daughter and I know that at the end of the day, I am a good mother and I am doing the very best I can. I am safe, I can work from home. My fridge isn’t empty. I have savings. I have a closet full of clothes. I have my health. I didn’t get sick. None of my friends and family members have, despite some of them being essential workers and it is constantly on my mind. And even though it wouldn’t hurt to have $500, 000 or more in my bank account- I am beyond grateful. If I take nothing else from 2020, it is to be grateful for what you have because it can change at any moment.