This year is arguably the most challenging for every one of us. Pandemic, storms, volcanic eruptions, more calamities, prolonged quarantine, social and political fiasco. You name it. We have experienced the worst this year.
On top of everything, we also encountered problems in our own families and circle of friends. Loss of a loved one, financial crisis, broken relationships, struggles in school or workplace.
And finally, a great number of us struggled silently. Even though we’ve seen more and more people becoming aware of emotional and mental health issues, many of us had to face our demons alone. We had to go through and endure the ugliest this year. We’re probably not fully healed yet but at least we made it through the end of this year. And for that alone, we deserve to celebrate.
I could spend time making a long list of my mishaps this year but I won’t. I wanted to make my own top 20 miseries this year but instead, I am choosing to make a list of the things that I learned in 2020. Lest one may think that I’m succumbing to toxic positivity, I just wanted to end this year with hope.
Today, I choose to look back on my struggles and pains and treat them as battle scars that are only meant to make me stronger and tougher for next year. Consider this as patting myself on the back for making it through this year despite many a time I broke down and almost lost it.
So here are the 20 things I learned this 2020:
1. Your family always got your back.
It’s not always easy opening up to our family members. It’s awkward sometimes. But they will be there for us in times of crisis. They will be there to support us.
2. Be thankful for your work even if it’s inconvenient sometimes.
A lot of people lost their jobs this year. Work can be stressful and we can always choose a new work environment but the work we have now helps us pay our bills.
3. Change is difficult but it’s necessary.
No one was expecting the new normal set-up. We have to keep up with the demands of time if we want to survive. Luckily for our school, we’ve been incorporating technology in teaching and learning for more than 10 years so the shift to online learning was not as difficult as other schools have experienced.
4. Things will not always go as planned.
Birthday parties, graduations and other important celebrations were cancelled. Things will not always go our way but we can choose to hope for better days ahead.
5. We (introverts and extroverts) all need other people in our lives.
I’ve always maintained that I’m an introvert and I know that I need to constantly be surrounded by only a few people – my closest friends. Being on quarantine for months affirmed their importance in my life.
6. You have a platform. Use it.
I have never been this involved in political issues and vocal about my opinions. I have been perpetually dismayed with the way our government officials have responded to crises. I realized that I have a platform to educate people with what I believe is true. Not everyone will agree with me, of course. But it’s fine. We can also use our platform to help those in need especially our countrymen who were devastated by typhoons.
7. People will let us down, even those that we look up to.
I’ve seen people in my workplace compromise their values. This happens everywhere. But that should not stop us from fighting for what is right and holding on to our convictions.
8. It’s okay to cut off relationships, even the old ones.
This year, I made the decision to burn bridges with a longtime friend. It was difficult but it was for the best. We should fight for our relationships. Sure. But don’t be afraid to dispose relationships if they have become toxic to you.
9. Do not always expect anything in return.
One of my major letdowns this year was expecting for my former students to greet me on teacher’s day because I thought I’ve invested time, effort and love to them. I was hoping that they’d show appreciation even after they graduated. I wasn’t expecting a surprise or anything because a simple thank you message would have sufficed but it didn’t happen. It was painful but I learned to accept it, months after. We can always do good to people even if they can’t and they won’t reciprocate it.
10. Don’t hold on to people too tightly. You’ll eventually have to let them go.
I’ve always been vocal of how much I love this batch of students. I saw something special in them. But I guess it’s for the best that I had to part ways with them prematurely because of the pandemic. I also chose to distance myself with some of them after being disappointed. Letting people go will help us grow and mature. I had a hard time accepting it but I noticed that it has been affecting my mental health and so I had to let some people go.
11. Never force yourself in other people’s lives
One of the most painful things I had to go through this year was being ignored and avoided by a friend whom I trust the most. It just happened in a snap. I am clueless until this day why someone would cut me off. Maybe it’s because I’m that toxic friend. But it made me realize that I should not force myself in a person’s life because I owe it to myself to leave me some dignity.
12. Your value does not depend on other people’s ability to see it.
If people don’t see our value, it’s fine. We should not allow them to decide if we are valuable or not. The truth is, we are valuable and there are people who genuinely love us!
13. Sometimes, not having a closure is a closure.
Sometimes we expect things to be better or we try to make sense of our situations. These things don’t always happen. We have to accept that some questions may never be answered and maybe it’s for our best. Peace is not only found when we get our answers. Peace can also be found in knowing that we’ve already done our part in trying to mend relationships.
14. Treasure people while you still have them.
People come and go. We should treasure them while we still have them. If they leave, we should be thankful for the time that we got to spend with them. They may leave but we get to decide whether they will stay in our hearts or not.
15. You’ll be surprised that there are people who actually understand you.
When I decided to go back to blogging and talked about introversion and depression, I didn’t expect that there were people who shared the same thoughts and struggles with me. Though they don’t know everything about me, I am happy to know that I can talk to them about some sensitive details of my life.
16. Release stress before it consumes you.
One of the things that helped me cope up with stress this year is blogging. I knew I had to put into words what’s been flooding my mind. Some of the blogs made it to public posts. Many of them did not. But the point is, I was able to release what’s heavy on my heart.
17. Take a pause whenever you need it.
Working and dealing with our personal issues can be challenging. This year, I took pauses whenever I needed them. I filed a leave from work and tuned out from people. I needed that time to reflect and re-evaluate my life decisions.
18. It’s okay not to be okay.
We should not be afraid to acknowledge our problems. Not every day is a sunny day. And it’s fine. Don’t be afraid of what others might say or think because our mental health is more important than their opinions. Healing starts once we recognize that we are not okay.
19. If people aren’t gonna be there for you, at least be there for yourself.
I hope that we will always have a friend or two who will help us when we hit rock bottom. But if ever they fail you, know that you are a strong person and that you can weather any storm that may come your way. Choose to fight every single day like I did. It was tough but it only made me tougher. We got this. We made it to the last day of 2020!
20. Keep the faith and never get tired of hoping.
While this year has been very challenging, I choose to still be thankful to God for helping me make it through 2020. I still don’t know what’s going to happen next year. I probably would still have episodes of depression, and dark days and feelings of hopelessness. But today, I am hoping for better days ahead! I am keeping my faith that God will continue to do his work in me and continue to heal me and enable me to thrive next year.
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:6 (ESV)