Seven and a half months. Seven and a half fucking months we’ve been dealing with Covid and its repercussions. Just a year ago, most of us were gearing up for Halloween and starting to map out how we were going to survive the holidays and the bludgeon of commitments they bring. Now, however, we’re left to debate if it’s safe to send your kids out trick-or-treating and, if so, the precautions that need to be taken in order to keep them safe.
2019, the second the kids enter the house: Parents quickly hide the alcohol they started drinking the moment the kids left the house. “Okay, kids, let dad go through your bags and make sure there aren’t any razor blades lurking in a candy bar.” Dad takes off into a corner with the candy and immediately begins to inhale as much as humanly possible in the next two minutes.
2020, the second the kids enter the house: “WASH YOUR DAMN HANDS! WASH THEM NOW! THEN EMPTY OUT THE CANDY AND BURN THE BAGS YOU WERE USING AND GARGLE WITH MOUTHWASH 20 TIMES OVER THE NEXT HOUR!”
Instead of wondering how you’re going to pretend to love Aunt Jackie’s salmonella-flavored stuffing and dry ass turkey, you’re trying to figure out how to get Nana, who has never held a cell phone or used a computer, logged into Zoom for a socially distant Thanksgiving. And instead of practicing the smile you’d give after opening up yet another year-long subscription to the Ugly Ass Tie of the Month Club, you’re left wondering if it’s even worth the hassle of putting up a Christmas tree because you’re pretty confident the only soul you’re going to see in 2020 is the Ghost of Christmas Past.
So, yeah, it’s a pretty dire situation, and now that fall has arrived and winter is on the way, things are looking really bleak for the next few months.
You know what, though? That’s okay. Because you’ve got this. You’ve got this because you’ve had this. And over the past seven months, you’ve learned so much about yourself. You’ve become a better, stronger person, even if you don’t know it. Even if you don’t see it.
How do I know this? I know this because you’ve had major fucking successes over the course of the past seven months and that in order to achieve those successes, you’ve had to overcome incredibly difficult obstacles.
There are positives about 2020. You just have to look for them. Here are a few. I bet that you’ll see yourself in at least a couple of them.
You can do hard shit. If you’re reading this, you’re a survivor, because let’s face it: Making it this far hasn’t been easy. It hasn’t been physically easy, and it sure as hell hasn’t been emotionally easy. Yeah, you’ve had a few breakdowns. Maybe more than a few. Your eyes have had this horrible habit of getting a bit watery. (Stupid allergies.) And there are times when you’ve just stood still and thought to yourself, I can’t. I just can’t. Not today. I can’t handle the monotony for one more moment. I can’t walk into that room and sit in that chair one more god-damn day. But you know what you did the moment that thought left your head? You walked into that room and sat in that chair and began your day. You sucked up the Groundhog Day-ness of it all, chewed it up, and spit it out.
I reiterate: You can do hard shit. You’ve proven it. Own it. Be proud of it. YOU CAN DO HARD SHIT.
You’ve identified the shit you care about. I can guarantee that over the past seven months you’ve found yourself waist deep in at least one or two interests. Maybe it’s your work. Maybe it’s locating interesting hikes. Maybe it’s trying to humiliate 12-year-olds at Fortnite. Maybe you picked up the guitar that’s been lying about collecting dust and starting strumming. Perhaps you rediscovered your love for cooking because you’re home so much more. Whatever it is that you’ve been doing, I bet that if you look over the past seven months you’ve been doing so much more of it than you ever thought possible—and holy shit, you’re actually enjoying it.
You’ve identified the people you truly care about. This is a big one, because let’s face it: You’re simply not around people as much as you used to be. All those co-workers you used to see five days a week? Yeah, they’re all working from home, too. Random acquaintances that you’d see out and about? Well, you’re not out and about and either are they. Relationships that seemed easy because they were convenient aren’t convenient anymore. Now think about the people you’ve made a concerted effort to reach out to over the past seven months, the people you’ve kept in your circle just by shooting them a text and saying hello once a month. Maybe you’re shocked by some of the people you’ve decided to keep close, and maybe you’re shocked by some of those who have kinda slipped away. Either way, now you know who is important, or at least you know who you have treated as important. Make a note of who these people are and why they’re the ones you’ve kept close. And if there’s someone you do care about and haven’t kept close, it’s never too late to start.
You’ve identified the people who care about you. This works hand in hand with the above, and it’s very possible that you’re shocked by some of the people who have decided to keep you close. What a nice surprise! In some ways, this list might be more surprising than the one up above, because you might have not expected these relationships to continue during the weirdness of 2020 but they did despite all the nonsense. Of course, it might be a difficult list to look at as well, because there might be people who you expected more out of, people you expected to reach out who haven’t. Lesson learned about those people? Maybe not. We’re all dealing with 2020 in our own ways, and it’s certainly turned some of us into recluses. So don’t write someone off who is important to you just because they’ve been quiet. Reach out and say hello. Maybe they’re waiting for you to prove that they’re important to you.
You’ve found ways to cope. So, if you’ve been coping by drinking a 12-pack of Milwaukee’s Best each night, you might want to bypass this section. I’m going to guess, however, that’s not you. Instead, you’re probably someone who has found a healthy coping mechanism, healthy diversions. Maybe you’ve found an online support group or joined a book club or decided to turn your garage into a gym. Maybe you started crocheting the hell out of some shawls (okay, this sentence amuses me because I have no idea what you crochet; crocheting a shawl is a shot in the dark), taken multiple walks each day, started learning a new language, baked goods for neighbors, or spent the first 30 minutes of each day practicing yoga, breathwork, or meditation. Regardless of what it is that you’ve been doing, guess what, it’s working, so keep fucking doing it! You’ve found your grace, so make sure to keep at it!
2020…it’s been a shitshow of massive proportions, but that doesn’t mean it’s been all bad. You’ve had wins this year. Big ones. Take the time to celebrate them. Pat yourself on the back and appreciate the good in your life.