As we leave 2020 behind us, the annual ritual of creating a set of new year’s resolutions is well and truly underway. Reflecting on the good, the bad and the ugly that arose throughout the year can be an incredibly cathartic experience, and I know I am not the only one to think that 2020 certainly threw an abundance of ugly at us all.
Taking time to think about the events of the past year can help us to lay the foundations for the year ahead. Whilst the desires to let go of the negativity and trauma that arose during 2020 are immense, we must recognise that 2020 has also been a year of both teaching and learning. I am sure each and every one of you will have learnt something new in 2020 – whether it be learning how to adapt to working from home, learning how to use online software to video call family members or learning that being alone does not always equate to being lonely. It is, therefore, imperative that we take these little pearls of newfound knowledge and understanding and enable them to grow into bigger and more beautiful pearls in the new year. Let go of the overwhelming and upsetting elements of the year, hold on to what is important and allow yourself to grow.
Grow towards a future filled with teaching, learning and understanding.
If you are struggling to indulge yourself in a reflective learning experience, I have listed three of my key learning experiences throughout 2020 and the COVID-19 global pandemic. I hope these
will help to ignite your memory and enable you to reflect on the positive learning experiences you have had throughout what has been an unbelievably frustrating and demanding year.
1. Time is precious, and time spent on yourself is invaluable.
COVID-19 certainly changed the pace. We were all forced to slow down and negotiate our lives in ways we have never done before. The devastating number of individuals who were so cruelly taken before their time taught me that life is truly precious. The lack of time I could spend with my loved ones taught me that time is truly precious. 2020 has been a year of deep-rooted sadness, but also a year of learning. I am learning to value the time I get with my family and friends, whether that be on FaceTime calls or on socially distanced walks, and I am trying to not take this time we have together for granted because, as we have learnt from this devasting virus, with COVID-19, nobody is spared. In 2021, and in future years, I vouch to hold on to this lesson and cherish the moments I do get with loved ones and, whilst life will undoubtedly throw curveballs which makes me forget this momentarily, I do not ever want to let go of the joy and happiness I feel when reuniting (virtually) with those who keep me sane!
In addition to the support and happiness I gain from surrounding myself with friends and family, 2020 has taught me that the time I spend on myself is invaluable. I feel that I have been granted permission to spend time focusing on myself – I am able to give my mind and body the love and nurture it deserves and has, at times, been starved of. Taking some time out of my day from studying has helped me greatly with my levels of concentration and I treasure my self-care sessions more than ever. I would recommend you try out a number of different self-care techniques to see which works best for you – not everybody will find a five mile walk relaxing and cooking up a storm in the kitchen may be more hellish that heavenly! Working out what works best for you is equally as important as partaking in the self-care activity itself.
2. Your voice matters – it is your superpower!
In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement. This movement highlighted the importance of the voice and the power the voice can hold. If you allow it to be, your voice is your superpower! Whether you chose to use your voice to help campaign for the greater good or to use it to ask for help when you need it, it deserves to be heard. Allow it to be heard. Your voice matters.
The pandemic has sadly served many individuals with large doses of feelings of loneliness and isolation and you don’t need me to tell you about the devasting impacts on the lives of these individuals, as well as on their friends and family. I do wish to highlight, however, an Instagram account that sent out a little reminder recently which noted that, whilst it is okay to feel broken, deflated and lonely, you are not on your own, no matter how alone you feel (@jessrachelsharp). I found this reminder to be completely and totally necessary, especially after the year we have all experienced. Allowing people to feel the way they want to feel is so important, as long as those feelings are coupled with an understanding that you are not on your own and that people are there for you when you are ready reach out to them. Learning that it is okay to ask for help,
learning that it is okay to reach out to people when you feel low and learning that it is okay to feel this way is SO important. Whether it be speaking with friends, family members, medical professions or relying on your faith, your voice will be heard and using it is more important than staying silent. Your voice matters. Allow it to be heard.
3. Always celebrate the little things in life
Who would have thought that a trip to the local supermarket could be so thrilling?! I am not sure about you, but I find myself to be enjoying the little things in life so much more recently. Instead of going on holiday with family or taking trips to the pub with friends, life now tends to consist of a series of socially distanced walks and trips to the drive though Costa Coffee en route to the supermarket. Rather than these activities feeling like a chore, they have become mini adventures that I spend my day looking forward to – oh how life has changed! Despite this, my change in attitude towards typically mundane activities has helped me to relish in the little things and I have loved celebrating the things I once saw as insignificant. They now hold such great significance because I am able to feel like I am accomplishing things in a time where certain goals and ambitions have had to be put on hold.
Every email I receive appears to reference these “extraordinary times” and, whilst I may smile to myself at the overuse of this word this year, I cannot help but feel proud of myself and those around me for battling through these unprecedented, crazy, unfathomable times! We must congratulate ourselves for being such strong and resilient characters. Whilst there may very well have been moments filled with sadness, anxiety and dread, we made it through the year, and we can make it through the years to follow simply by keeping focused on what is truly important in life.
Anyway, onwards and upwards, ladies and gents! Let’s make 2021 a year filled with growth, positivity and good wellbeing; we all deserve it.
This post was created by Bea Holt.