Keep your perspective along with your reflection on 2020.
What a dumpster fire this year has been.
What a sh**show this year has been.
What a decade this year has been.
These are just a few phrases we have all used or seen to describe 2020 whether it be in memes or out of our own mouths in exasperation, fatigue, anger, sadness, or any of the many other emotions we have experienced this year.
Here are a few more phrases I am willing to bet you have used:
But I am so fortunate.
But at least I am not dealing with that.
But I am so grateful for what I have.
While said with good intentions, these phrases can suck. If you are anything like me, you have used them as a crutch, a roadblock preventing you from walking the path of how you are really feeling.
Just a few days ago, as I was subsequently berating myself for screaming at my son and bursting with pride over my daughter’s virtuoso pianist skills, I was struck with an epiphany. I am allowed to feel all these things AT THE SAME TIME.
Wow. What a revelation that was. And I know I am not the first to figure it out. I am sure Brene or Glennon or Oprah have told me this a million different times a thousand different ways. But for me, on December 1st, as I was grasping blindly for the pause button that would give me the time to have the full-on meltdown I needed, as the bottom was falling out (never mind the fact that I have felt like the bottom was falling out multiple times this year, and it never did, but this time it REALLY was) this revelation was just the thing I needed. And I thought maybe you needed it, too. So here it goes.
To the woman whose son didn’t get to go back to college in 2020. It is okay that you just can’t stop being angry about it even though he is resourceful and will rise above this setback.
To the woman who lost her job in 2020. It is okay to feel depressed as a stay-at-home mom, even though you are fortunate enough to have a partner whose income can cover the loss.
And to the stay-at-home mom who reentered the workforce in 2020. It is okay to feel longing for your children even though you were able to find an income-generating job during a struggling economy.
To the woman who had a baby in 2020. It is okay to be disappointed that your birth plan was disrupted even though you have a healthy, thriving child you love to pieces.
To the woman who is a teacher in 2020. It is okay to be completely unhinged over a system that is bursting at the seams and the children who are falling through the cracks because of it, even though you still have gainful employment.
You can be and feel two things at the same time. Honoring your darker feelings does not mean you no longer see the light. Screaming and crying and losing it or not getting out of bed for a few days does not mean you don’t see your privilege or your advantages or your fortunes. In fact, I would argue that grappling and working through those raw emotions and coming out on the other side makes the light, the good, the things that work in our favor more visible.
You are a complicated, resourceful, and capable person who can celebrate what she has while also staring with her eyes wide open at the injustices this pandemic has brought to the surface.
And here is to 2021…our chance to put to practice all the lessons we learned throughout this year. May one of them be our ability to embrace the dissonance of pain and grace and the opportunity to model to our children how beautifully they can coexist.