We had so much hope about 2020. We all hoped it would be a great year, where we met goals, celebrated milestones, and improved our lives. Instead, the entire world has been thrown upside down. Not turned upside down – thrown upside down. And then shaken up and smashed.
Everyone in the world is facing some level of fear, uncertainty, confusion, and anger–and not just because of COVID.
While the events of 2020 have definitely not been fun for anyone, we don’t have to let circumstances determine our lives and our attitude. If there’s one thing 2020 can give us, it’s an endless amount of opportunities to grow and learn.
Here are nine things I hope I learn from all the challenges of 2020.
1. You Can’t Control Your Circumstances
Just a few months ago, you probably had a general plan for the next few years. On some level, we all thought we had a handle on what might happen with our jobs, kids, schedule, finances, etc. Now suddenly, we’re doing things like homeschooling with a full-time job, closing businesses, and starting careers in brand new industries. Whatever semblance of control we thought we had has been thrown out the window.
I don’t know about you, but I do NOT like to feel like things are out of my control. However, the more that I try to control situations that, in reality, are absolutely uncontrollable, the more I suffer. I become more frustrated, anxious, and angry.
It’s terrifying to let go of control and expectations. But I hope that the constant changes and unpredictability of this year allows me to trust God more deeply and take things as they come–even when they feel in control again.
2. You Can’t Control Other People
As deeply as you believe something, as strongly as you feel that one thing is right, you just can’t force other people to agree. Sometimes it feels absolutely illogical and even NECESSARY for other people to believe or act differently. But as impossible as it feels to let go, we can not control other people. We cannot force them to change their mind. We just can’t. And pouring our valuable energy into it only makes us feel worse.
3. Kindness Changes More Hearts Than Hatred
The internet had its fair share of hatred before 2020. But now, everyone is struggling. Everyone on the planet is dealing with something new, unfamiliar, confusing, and devastating.
But instead of coming together because of this, we’re just attacking each other with even more vengeance. There is no clear right answer to almost anything right now, but people are still spewing hatred toward anyone who disagrees with them. We are quite literally tearing ourselves apart.
However, I have yet to see a Facebook fight that ended with people agreeing. Is it me, or does this spewing of hatred strategy seem like it’s not working?
But within my circle of people who I trust and respect, I’ve seen people change their opinion. I’ve seen people ask legitimate questions and have open discussions. Hearing the viewpoints of other people has opened my eyes and molded my own.
When the heartbreak of this season is over, I hope I remember how useless it is to attack others. I hope I remember that allowing hate into my heart does absolutely nothing to move good things forward.
Even when I just CAN’T understand a different point of view, the one who suffers the most from hate in my heart is me.
4. You Can Withstand More Than You Think
If you would have told my January self what was about to happen, I would have passed out. No, like, seriously. I would have told you that what you were saying was 100% impossible. I absolutely, without a doubt did not believe I could actually survive running my online business AND staying home with my kids for months on end. No. No. NOPE.
But look, I’m doing it. We all are.
We are still suffering from this, and I am by no means minimizing that.
But I think a lot of us have faced more difficulty than we ever expected, and we’re still swimming (even if you’re swimming slower and slower). It may not feel like it, but you’re even stronger than you thought.
Even though we’ve had to make heartbreaking decisions–like homeschooling, not homeschooling, getting an emergency job to pay the bills, etc–we’ve done it. We didn’t just give up and let the horror overcome us. We got up, faced the unknown, and fought for ourselves and our families. And that is a victory.
5. Grief is Healthy
Grief is intensely painful. But denying grief is intensely damaging.
It takes courage to face grief and allowing yourself to feel sadness and anger. Pushing the emotions down only makes them worse.
This year, every one of us has lost something. It might have been something seemingly small, or something life-altering. I hope that we all remember how important it is to face grief and not feel ashamed by it.
6. Admitting Your Mistakes is a Strength
It’s almost always easier to ignore problems. And it’s almost never fun to admit you did something wrong.
But we all do make mistakes, and we grow as people when we own that.
7. Grieving For Others is Powerful
We don’t usually feel grief unless something affects us personally. Why would we want to? Grief is the worst.
But there is power in letting yourself feel the pain that someone else is experiencing.
Only a tiny number of people were personally affected when one man died. But when hundreds of thousands of people chose to grieve for him and for the reality of racism, the world was changed. There is power in empathy.
8. Don’t Worry About Judgemental People
No matter what you do or say right now, somebody is going to judge you for it. It’s useless to try to get out of being judged by someone, somewhere.
All you can do is make the best decisions, and let go of the haters.
9. There’s Always a Positive
Sometimes it’s easy to see the good things, and sometimes it feels impossible.
But even when it feels like the world is falling apart around you, there is always something to be thankful for.