Advice to My Post-Pandemic Self
It is not about asking why this happened to me, but what can I make out of this situation.
Life does not always go the way we planned. 2020 was undeniable proof of that.
Our world was disrupted. Undesired impositions were placed on our lives.
We faced challenges that didn't make sense. It shook us to the core and took away our understanding of the world.
It felt like an unprecedented time, but the truth is, it was not the first nor the last time we will face difficult situations.
We get locked down by our own emotions and attachments to the world. And too often, we forget lessons of the past once the moment is gone.
But through challenge comes opportunity and a chance for new beginnings. 2020 taught us, it is not about asking why this happened to me, but what can I make out of this situation.
There are many takeaways from 2020 to be carried with us into the new year and beyond. As life gets back to normal, never forget the things we lost and how much we have gained.
"You don't develop courage by being happy in relationships every day. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity." - Epicurious
Give up What you Cannot Control
All sense of control was lost the moment we were locked away in our homes. We were isolated from friends, family, and social activities. Our freedom was ripped out from underneath us in an instant.
Worrying, fighting, or getting caught up in drama did nothing to ease our anxious feelings and brought us further away from peace.
We were powerless to change government restrictions, health advisories, grocery store lines, and even your careless neighbor refusing to wear a mask.
We watched as people fought over toilet paper and wearing masks. Grasping at a last-ditch effort to control the world around them.
Everything began to feel hopeless.
But we regained our strength through the one thing we could control, our minds.
Thoughts, habits, actions, and reactions were the only way to find calm amongst the chaos.
There was no way to change the outcome or behaviors of others. So we went inward. There was courage in the ability to control your beliefs and choose what you gave attention to.
Attempts to control the world around us may give a momentary sense of reprieve, but ultimately the outcome does not change. And just like that, we are back where we started.
Giving up control means letting go of resistance to persevere through struggles.
When challenges present themselves, resist the urge to control the situation. Focus on what you can control, your mind.
Use Fear as Your Compass
"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do." -Eleanor Roosevelt
There were many times we were afraid. That didn’t stop the world from moving on.
Fear is a powerful force that keeps us from achieving what we want.
This year, we stood in the face of fear and challenged it.
There will always be something that scares you. It may be a job, a relationship, or another catastrophic event. Fear can hold you back, but it is really telling you to keep going.
You have to be willing to face your fears to come out on the other side.
Think back to being a child, scared of the monsters in your closet. You were scared. But did you wait for the monsters, who never showed themselves, to come and get you?
No, you faced your fears. You got up, turned the lights on, and exposed the truth. You explored every inch of that closet until you could rest assured that you could sleep soundly.
As adults, our monsters are scarier, with more on the line than a good night's sleep.
Careers, relationships, financial implications all play into our fears. But still, we should embrace our inner child and stand up to those fears. You might find they aren’t are as scary as we thought.
It’s ok to be Dissatisfied with Life
"The desire to change your state is what powers you to take action.
With craving, we are dissatisfied but driven. Without craving, we are satisfied but lack ambition.” - James Clear, Atomic Habits
No one was satisfied with 2020, but we all found new ways of living in the process.
Satisfaction is overrated. Who really wants to simply be satisfied with life?
Satisfaction leads to complacency. It allows us to assume there isn’t a problem. Things are fine the way they have always been. It closes you off to question if there is a better way.
With dissatisfaction, you spark innovation, creativity, and revolutions. You find you do not have to settle for what is accepted as a good life.
It opens you up to a world you never knew existed and challenges assumptions of what a good life can be.
Be unreasonable with what you expect from yourself and your life. Accepting things as-is will crush your curiosity to achieve the impossible.
In Uncertainty, Find Opportunity
We often lean on excuses when life feels uncertain. But excuses get you nowhere. They are passive acceptance that you can't achieve what you want. Instead of excuses, look for possibilities.
No one could have predicted the twists and turns of 2020. But businesses did not stop running, schools did not stop educating, we did not stop living. We all had to find new ways to go about our lives. We turned uncertainty into opportunity.
Take on challenges as new opportunities to do things differently to get different results. You may find a better way, change assumptions, and even do the impossible.
Disconnect to Reconnect
In a digital age, we pride ourselves on being always plugged in. But how connected are we?
Technology may give us instant access to the world, but it keeps us from being closer to the people in our real life.
It may make it easier to connect with those miles apart, but it distracts us from the ones we are with right here, right now. We found the real social connection came from being with the people around us.
When Zoom took over our lives, it was a breath of fresh air to look up from our screen and see the world around us. To be out in nature and experience the real world for what felt like the first time.
A walk became an adventure that took us to new places we could never discover through a screen. The trees and clouds took on a new meaning of what it meant to be alive.
Redefine What it Mean to Have a Good Life
"There's no point in asking 'why' when you deal with obstacles, challenges, or mistakes. Instead, think about what you can do to overcome or prevent the things that are holding you back." -Darius Fox
2020 was a pivotal year that questioned if we were living our lives to the fullest.
It tested us on every level and was a massive disruption to life as we knew it.
It showed us what matters most in life and what counts is to show up, every day and live it fully.
We may have weathered the storm and come out the other side, but who knows what life has in store for us. Remember, when life doesn't go your way, you have been here before, and you are equipped to handle the chaos with grace.
No one knows what tomorrow will be. We can only choose to make the most of what we can. What felt like a lost year was really only the beginning.