I think we can all agree that 2020 was not what we signed up for. It’s as if someone told 2020 to “calm down” back in January, and these last 12 months were its passive-aggressive way of retaliation. It’s been an emotionally up and down year for a lot of us. We’ve all experienced loss, confusion, sadness, hope, and uncertainty to the extreme degree. And that was just when Brad and Jen teased us with a possible reconciliation at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.
This year was the ultimate test for me. It tested my patience, my values, my creativity, and the Lycra on my over-worn Lululemons. It was also a bit of a rude awakening to learn that leggings were the only thing that fit me after spending several months in quarantine.
Considering I feel like I’ve done nothing overly exciting or even remotely productive in 2020 other than bake bread, you’d think that time would have stood still. But, surprisingly it’s been completely the opposite. Time has flown by, and I now find myself trying to cram as much into the last remaining days of 2020 as possible. Do you think I can still train for that 5k and learn a second language by Dec 31?
Never have I experienced a summer without endless weekend plans. Wine tours, road trips, birthday celebrations, and countless drinks consumed at my favourite local restaurants. Instead, a jam-packed weekend for me now consists of sterilizing my groceries and online shopping for cute face masks on Zulily.
Just like the province of Ontario’s economic re-opening plan, I feel like I also went through three stages this year:
Stage One: New Year Optimism
On January 1 of this year, I was motivated and looking forward to winding down from a busy 2019, on a hot tropical vacation. That trip was the reset I needed to get re-energized for the year ahead. I remember being six rum punches deep on the last day of that trip, thinking to myself that this year was going to be THE year. The year everything fell into place. The year I took on even more commitments, started saying yes to more opportunities, took on more challenges that would eventually pay off, and point me in the direction of my ultimate goal. But, the universe had a different plan. It wanted to challenge my ability to be stuck inside the house with my entire family for three whole months without killing anyone instead.
Stage Two: Quarantine (also known as the bread-making phase)
I still felt energized, but in a different way. In January, I thought I had a clear vision of what I wanted my life to look like, and by April, I realized that I was a total f%cking idiot. Not only would I have been settling for a life of chaos, but I was putting so many limits on my potential to grow. Filling my plate with obligations on top of obligations that were crushing me like a ton of bricks. As mentioned in a previous post, being quarantined in my house was such a great mindset shift for me. My creative juices started to flow again. I reconnected with my passions, learned how to make bread, and began a journey of self-discovery and personal growth. And for the record, the personal growth I’m referring to in this stage is my waist-line. I made a lot of bread y’all. A. LOT.
Stage Three: Under Pressure
In the last remaining weeks of 2020, I felt enormous amounts of pressure to do everything that I said I was going to do while in quarantine. Workout more, write more, monetize my side hustles, and start living the best life I see everyone preach about on Instagram. Now that it’s the end of the year already, I can’t help but feel like I’ve been thrown into the deep end of the pool. Would somebody please toss me a giant unicorn pool floaty to save me from drowning in a sea of my own hopes and dreams?
Since phase two made me want to shift SO many aspects of my 100 mile an hour life, I started to feel completely overwhelmed by it all.
I knew that 2020 had come to a complete halt for me in the motivation department when the autumn leaves had started to turn back in September, and the idea of throwing on a wool fedora and going to a pumpkin patch felt completely lackluster. Typically, I spend the fall months frolicking through rows of Cortlands, writing punny Instagram captions about gourds, and lining my front porch with all of the pastel pumpkins I can get my white-girl hands on. It was only when I came home from work one day to a house that was completely lacking the smell of apple crisp, and pumpkin-scented candles when it hit me…
“Oh. My. God. I’ve lost my will to “basic.”
I’ve always been really hard on myself when I set my sights on something that doesn’t pan ou, and I have a tendency of starting the race strong, and then giving up before I get to the finish line. I usually let fear hold me back from actually following through. (where was fear when I was reaching for that third spoonful of peanut butter at 1 a.m.?) It’s ingrained in us to want to improve what we don’t like about ourselves, and aspire for more. But when our goals start to take us out of our comfort zone, fear swoops in with a giant, “Do Not Pass Go” sign. Which sucks, because I could have really used that $200, you know, to invest in Zoom stock.
Let’s talk about failure.
The harsh 2020 reality is, you’re going to fail. A lot of us have failed this year, but failure is important. It allows for growth, it keeps us humble, human and if we’re lucky, teaches us a thing or two about life. Hear me out: If Wylie E Coyote hadn’t failed over and over again trying to catch the roadrunner, he wouldn’t have realized his true potential. Not only did Wylie have a relentless spirit but he also had incredible artistic abilities. Coyote’s paintings of fake tunnels were so realistic, they even fooled him. (I’m starting to think that Coyote may have been on the spectrum a lil bit).
Ultimately, he was chasing the wrong thing. Focusing all of his energy on things that weren’t serving him (i.e. the roadrunner). He was letting his fear of not knowing where his next meal was coming from, take over his entire life. In so many ways, I can relate to Coyote. I’ve been chasing the same roadrunners for years thinking that’s what I needed to survive. Financial security, a rewarding career, acceptance from my peers, and body confidence (just to name a few).
In true 2020 fashion, I’m writing this post while icing an injury, caused by overexertion trying to lose that last COVID-15 (*cough* more like 25), I gained in quarantine. Since I feel like I’m running out of time, I’ve been quite literally running the clock to try and keep at least ONE of my 2020 goals. (spoiler alert, I had stale Christmas cookies for dinner every day this week).
Deep down I know that instead of killing myself to achieve body confidence, I should refocus my energy on feeling healthy instead. But that’s easier said than done. Apples may be pretty to pose with in an orchard, but I can’t remember the last time I reached for the nearest Macintosh when I was having an emotional breakdown, PMSing, or when I’m bored in the house, and I’m in the house bored.
2021 Attitude Prediction: “Oh, You’re Normal? Ew, David.”
This has been a year of shifting, pivoting, and refocusing our ideals. The term, the new normal, has been thrown around a lot this year, but what is normal? Is normal working 9-5 for somebody else? Depriving yourself of delicious food just so you can fit into 2019’s skinny jeans? Or keeping an Extreme Couponers’ style stockpile of paper products in your garage?
The reality is, normal is no longer the norm. And it hasn’t been for a long time. It just took a global pandemic for some of us to realize it, myself included. Normal for me, probably looks completely different to somebody else, so why do I keep pushing myself to achieve the preverbal “norm” when I don’t even know what that is?
We’ve all been anxiously waiting for things to get back to normal, but just like the aftermath of any life lesson, there’s no going back, only forward. I think the idea of normal is dead, and the sooner we all realize that the better. (Jeeze – who knew you’d get a side of Tony Robbins realism here with your list of skincare must-haves?).
At this point, I think most of us are craving change, adversity, acceptance, and love. Judging by a lot of the events that happened this year, it seems the need for change was apparent. A lot of us said “f%ck fear” and went for it this year, which was really incredible to witness. If gathering in large groups to protest for Black Lives despite the risk of contracting a deadly virus wasn’t the biggest “f%ck fear” movement you’ve ever seen, then I need to hang out in your circles. From electing change in the White House, to changing how we connect with people, shop, and earn a living, evolution was certainly the theme of 2020. (And hopefully also for years that follow).
We may have lost human connection this year, but I think a lot of us have gained a deeper sense of self connection, which is something I have personally benefitted from the most. If the only real connection you felt this year was to the entire cast of Schitt’s Creek, then that’s ok too. That show was just what 2020 needed. Shifting my mindset and working on things like gratitude has become MY new normal. (Along with impatiently waiting for yeast to bubble). Connecting on a deeper level with myself has actually helped combat my anxiety and overcome the feeling of failure that had been trailing behind me this entire year. Don’t get me wrong, fear still creeps in, but at least I can recognize it now, and put that bitch in her place.
I don’t think it’s a fluke that hindsight is 2020. If someone had warned you back in 2019 that we’d be fighting off murder hornets AND a deadly virus named after your favourite Mexican pale ale in the same year, you probably wouldn’t have believed them anyway. Speaking of hindsight though, setting the expectation of trying to achieve my long list of goals within the span of one turbulent year, wasn’t very fair to myself. I’m still trying to figure out what I want my life to look like and find the best route that will get me there the fastest. Unfortunately, there’s no set timeline, or Waze app to help you navigate your life during a pandemic. We’re all moving at our own pace, and shouldn’t feel pressured by anyone or even a date on a calendar. If you’ve been waiting for a sign this year or really don’t know what direction you should be going in coming into 2021, just look for the arrows on the ground. They’re literally everywhere now. Well played, 2020.