"We squared our shoulders and we rose up." –Rachel Jones
This year. Let’s all sigh together. As I’m writing this, I am trying find the right words, and I am met with more deep breaths, more sighs. January feels like a decade ago. We had plans for this new decade – I had goals. My 2020 calendar has never been emptier. No family holidays. No random movie dates. No in-person anything. The few times I’ve had things to do outside of work, I am drained at the end of the task or event.
This year was arguably one of the hardest years of our lives. It was for me. I took more deep breaths, cried more tears, and braced myself for the inevitable changes as we’ve gotten through. I see you doing the same. We’re not used to running on this much adrenaline and uncertainty.
Australia caught fire, Kobe Bryant passed away, people didn’t (and are just now starting to) understand COVID-19, schools closed, virtual conferences jumped up in use, Tiger King was a thing for some reason, toilet paper had a shortage (or does it still?), murder hornets existed, George Floyd was killed, protests began across the country, media was in a frenzy for most of the year, businesses closed and opened and closed again, we had an election, our hands became dryer from increased sanitizing and washing, and masks became the latest (and most important) fashion accessory.
2020 also gave us hope. Read that again. 2020 also gave us hope.
Despite the pain, the struggle, the despair we experienced (and is not going away just yet), we came together, while staying apart. There are outliers, but by and large this year brought us proof that humanity is kind. Protests brought people together to fight injustice. We got more creative with our time. We shared our talents virtually. We gained new recovery and wellness skills. It was hard, uncomfortable, and scary. We struggled and we got through.
Celebrations have become drive through events, so we can still safely and publicly share our achievements. Women in the United States marked our 100-year anniversary of suffrage. This year marked the largest voter turnout percentage since 1908 – that’s 112 years. People want to stay together in whatever way we can and we are adaptable!
We are moving quicker, trying new things that before people said we could not do or achieve. The first batch of a vaccine came out less than a year after the pandemic began. Stores and restaurants have near-perfected their contactless pick-ups for their consumers. Those six-foot distancing stickers have reminded others to respect personal space. Healthcare is more readily accessible through telehealth. Sick days are more honored by our bosses, instead of the “call-out guilt” we used to experience.
My goal for 2021? Continue to invest in myself and my community. Be kind. Don’t take things personally. Respect others’ boundaries. Pray and hope for our future to be a little brighter. January 1, 2021 won’t be much different than December 31, 2020 but we are more prepared now. Don’t leave behind all we’ve learned – let’s take it with us to be stronger this round.
See you next year!
Kristen has worked in the mental health field since 2013, with a focus on crisis work, substance use services, and bringing a voice to lived experience. Her ambition is to change the way mental health care and recovery is seen and achieved, so to redefine what it means to defeat adversity.