5 Lessons I Learnt In 2020 – A Year Like No Other

It certainly feels like a lifetime ago since I shared my 2019: A Year In Review but it most definitely does not feel like 365 days ago! If the 2019 me could see what 2020 had to offer, she certainly would not believe what I had to say and what this year has dealt us.

It might seem easy to wish away 2020, after all it has been a rollercoaster year with many unexpected twists and turns. Our everyday activities were taken away from us, our careers altered, halted, even taken away from us, friendships put on hold and weddings postponed and postponed again. We have all experienced and let this year shape us differently but no matter what has been and what is still there is always something to give us perspective, something which teaches us an important lesson, something to discover and something to be grateful for, and I for one would like to take a moment to look back on the most insane year and share with you the lessons I have learnt.

I can accept change

I think if there is one thing we have all learnt and will take away from 2020 is that nothing is a given. My life changed quite a lot this year going from extensive travel, office work and socialising to hiding away in the middle of nowhere in our new home. The most mundane of activities, the ones which we quickly came to realise we take for granted, like how we socialise, work and greet one another changed drastically and quickly for many of us. Without question adapting to the new ‘norm’ was the only way for me to move forward, understand the impacts of the pandemic and respect the wishes of those around me. Amidst all the chaos I was surprised at how calm and level-headed I remained and how quickly I was able to adapt to a new routine and lifestyle.

I know from past New Year resolutions I focus on what I want to change but I guess moving forward it might be a good idea to strengthen my ability to change. Adapting and changing too new formalities is a skill and necessary to understand and apply to our day to day routines. I know that whatever 2021 may throw my way I can face any struggle or uncertainty and trust that everything will be ok, I know I am adaptable and I expect and accept letting go of expectations.

Ignore any ‘self-care’ that doesn’t mean ‘self-love’

By this I mean, what actually feels like caring for yourself? For some it is a bubble bath, sipping on wine, lighting fancy candles and reading a book. Want my honest opinion? I’ve tried all of that and I still hate baths, I get bored, I get hot and I just feel like I’m bathing in my own sweat! This past year I’ve found taking a walk with my dog, getting hooked on a new series with my boyfriend and beginning each day in bed with a brew or 2 have become real ‘switch off’ and recharge moments.

I have read umpteen blogs and watched hundreds of Instagram stories this year to understand how others prioritise and practice wellness. I tried so many different activities and took on board what some many wonderful women had to say and experienced. But it soon came apparent, the purpose is to care for yourself, not to follow in the footsteps of everyone else and if it is not doing it for you then either change it up or leave it alone.

Having spent so much time at home this year I have identified how my body wants to recharge and I now make the time to implement these activities into my routine. I have grasped a better understanding of what it really means to self-care and to self-love and I kind of like knowing that that feeling won’t be achieved exactly in the same way by someone else.

Be satisfied with the now

I personally find myself always thinking I’ll be happy when… and then focusing on achieving those goals. 2020 has taught me the significance of feeling whole and fulfilled and finding even the tiniest bit of happiness in the here and now. Although there is nothing wrong with focusing on the future and wanting to better our future self, I do believe that we should be trying to identify our current happiness, too.

I’m sure for many of you with the new year arising you are waiting until the 1st to implement new changes. But by the time the second lockdown hit, I’d learnt a third lesson, enough of that waiting for life to start stuff. Life carried on, it never stopped during the pandemic. Life was every moment I sat feeling sorry for myself because plans got cancelled or I was dwelling over the fact that I couldn’t see friends or family. Life was every day I walked Shep on the beach and watched the sunrise and sunset. I now wish I hadn’t spent so long waiting for better times to come, for life to start again. After all tomorrow is never promised and we should relish every opportunity that each day brings.

I’m not saying you should conquer all your goals in one day or make considerable changes right away, instead I simply ask you to consider focusing on how you can make the most of the present moment even if that simply means tuning into and appreciating what you already have in the now.

Nature is constant and necessary

Did anyone else feel like time passed at weird paces this past year and the days somehow merged into one? I have been very grateful this year to have had our new garden to watch it change and evolve over the seasons. Watching the flowers bloom, the leaves on the trees grow and fall, the grass transform and more and more birds visit our garden to feast. It’s been so comforting watching even the smallest patch of land change over the past months and amidst all the turmoil nature continued, unknowingly, running its course.

Being a part of the outdoors and having the blessing of being able to be out in the fresh country air, head out for coastal walks and dive in the sea when needed massively helped me handle how to cope with lockdown. My headspace is clearer, I feel truly happy in my surroundings and I feel at home.

Love Really Loudly

Even if my family and friends are hundreds of miles away knowing that I couldn’t spontaneously nip over the bridge to see friends down south or head up north really irritated and saddened me. This past year I have found a new-found appreciation for my loved ones, none of my family members have suffered from COVID, touch wood, but the simple realisation that they could was enough to make me sit up, phone each day and feel blessed that they are in good health. I know for sure once we are all vaccinated and the C word simply becomes something we only ever whisper I won’t be afraid or embarrassed about kissing and hugging everyone. I’ll let my grandma hold my hand every time we cross the road, I’ll let strangers hug me when the clock strikes 12 at New Year 2021 and I’ll tell everyone I love them.

I know there are many more lessons I have learnt this year but for me these ones stand out the most. I hope that this Christmas, however you were able to celebrate, it was magical, heart-warming, and healthy. And I truly hope 2021 brings us all peace and little adventure again.

Love, AR