Bye. Farewell. Adios. Ciao. Peace out, 2020! From fear, chaos, COVID-19, politics, masks, quarantine, social distancing and everything in between, I sure hope to never see another year as trying as this one has been.
This year did, however, come with some valuable lessons. This week, I planned on listing out all the things I have learned this year, but in true Sarah fashion, I had way too much left to do to get ready for Christmas.
So, I tried something different for a change. With hopes of cutting down on my writing time for this week, I posted a “help” message on social media and asked all my friends what they have learned this year.
My full intentions were to make this a silly article — heck, I even gave an example of what I was thinking of as lessons from 2020:
• There is no limit to the number of days in a row that you can wear the same sweatpants.
• Nor is there a limit on how many days in a row you go without washing your hair.
I figured I would get a slew of witty responses. Sure, there were a few good ones:
• Always keep toilet paper on hand.
• Pay for the grocery delivery! It’s worth it!
• Most meetings can, in fact, easily be an email.
But you guys, most people took a totally different approach to my question. During a year of anxiety and gloom, I was surprisingly overwhelmed with an outpouring of positivity and heartfelt lessons. Here are some of my favorites:
• It’s OK to feel disappointment but to live with anticipation and hope.
• Community is vital.
• Embrace gratitude and the gift of life.
• Serve one another out of love for your neighbor.
• Kindness goes a long way.
• Tomorrow is not promised. Cherish the ones you love, and make sure you tell them often! You never know when it could be your last moment with them!!
• Kids adapt way easier than most adults, i.e. masks, staying home, lack of activities.
• Healthcare workers are very much underappreciated and underpaid!
• Take time to take care of yourself, mentally and physically. It could very well save your life!
• The power of the word “no.”
• Roll with what life throws at you. This pandemic did not come with a handbook, and each day we faced new challenges, but as a whole, we continue to persevere.
• Life’s challenges are unending. When those challenges pile up, support and love come often from the most unlikely places. Accept that support.
• Never take hugs for granted.
• Careers are important and rewarding but can also be gone in a heartbeat. Your value is so much higher at home than anywhere else, so make sure your family and friends always remain your #1 priority.
• Trust God and thank Him for unanswered prayers. He has a plan and will provide.
• Life can change instantaneously.
• Life can be cruel and unkind but also miraculously beautiful.
• God bless teachers (my kids need school).
• Find joy in all the small everyday blessings. When you slow down, you really get to enjoy life.
• Sometimes thinking outside the box is better than typical traditions.
• Our kids are only little once, and although this year has given its fair share of chaos, it has also given us something most of us take for granted, time.
While I was fully prepared to put out an article full of clever lessons from being OK to use tablets and TV as babysitters to gifting alcohol to teachers for Christmas this year (I mean, they do deserve it), I couldn’t have said it better or agree more with the list above that my friends came up with.
Which leads me to one of my favorite lessons that I learned this year: Pay close attention to what fuels me and how I fuel others.
Whether in person or even on social media, building a barrier against negativity became essential. Choosing to surround myself — whether in person or through social distancing — with those who lift me up, pray for me, support me and want me to succeed has become a necessity.
Not only that, but focusing on the positive influences around me made me want to be that glimpse of light to others. Those checking-in-on-you text messages that carried me through some rough days have become my go-to. That just because email, call or “I love you” are things that I do now to make sure those close to me know that I care. It’s taking the love that is shown to me and sending it right back out there.
Yes, 2020 came with a whole lot of cringeworthy chaos, but, as my friends said above, it also came with some deep, meaningful life lessons and a whole lot of love to carry into 2021.
So long, 2020. Happy New Year!
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.