7 Lessons I’ve Learned From 2020

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As I sit down to write this article, every adjective I can think of to describe 2020 seems like an understatement. This year has squashed the writer in me, and I am completely speechless. My response to the question, “What do you think of 2020?” would be, “No words!” 

But, let me try!

This year has been different and unique to say the least. It has been a year of the never-ending quarantine, a year of social distancing, disinfecting, and wearing masks; a year of alternative facts and deep political divides, and a year of confusion and uncertainty. It has been a gut punching, hard hitting, life changing year that we will always remember, and tell stories about to our grandchildren. I will also remember this year as a turning point in the fight against racism, as deeply disturbing police shootings caught on video finally made people of all races sit up and realize that what is happening is not right.

How ironic is it that a year which taught us so much in hindsight, is the year 2020? Talk about 20/20 vision! This was definitely a year that opened our eyes and allowed us to see some things more clearly. When stuff hits the fan, you know what your priorities are and who the people are that really matter to you. You count your blessings and cherish your loved ones, and you know better than ever that man proposes, and God disposes. As an extra bonus you also learn about human behavior, like how important toilet paper can be to some people, and also guns; two items that flew off the shelves and were well hoarded!

This year has been unlike any other. While partying with friends last December, and counting down to the year 2020, I never in my wildest dreams expected the pandemic to hit us the way it has. It seemed so far away in another part of the world. While I sympathized with the countries affected by it, I was naïve enough to believe that we would be spared.

But then everything shut down in March, and life changed. Now, as we are well into the homestretch of this year, here are the lessons I have learned from 2020.

1. The significance of mindful living

I heard of mindfulness but never really practiced it. My brain is always in overdrive; thinking about the past, planning the future, having many different tabs open simultaneously in my overactive mind. When COVID-19 changed our lifestyle and cancelled travel and other plans, I realized we wouldn’t be able to plan anything since we did not know what would happen day to day.

Life is unpredictable. The best way to live life is to be completely present in the moment and enjoy it fully. We should welcome each new day with gratitude, and focus on living those twenty-four hours the best we can.

2. Appreciate what you have because things could always be worse

I was watching the movie Bird Box the other day. When I saw Sandra Bullock navigating her world blindfolded, a chill went down my spine as I wondered how difficult it would be to live life like that. For those who have not watched the movie, it is a sci-fi horror flick in which a mysterious force can kill you unless you have your eyes covered. This hopefully could never happen in real life, but I am using the example to prove a point. When I think about walking around with my eyes closed, I am grateful that I only need to wear a mask over my nose and mouth. The lesson is to be thankful for what you have as things could always be worse!

3. Being able to adapt to change is necessary

I am not good with transition. This lack of resilience to change is only getting worse as I get older. I do not cry and throw a tantrum like a two-year-old being told to leave the playground, but I can finally understand and sympathize with a child who reacts like that.

2020 has taught me that I must adapt to a new normal. I must make peace with change as it is the only constant in our lives. It is amazing to see how resilient human beings are, and how we have found ways to interact virtually and work from home. A friend posted a Chinese proverb on Facebook recently and it made perfect sense. The proverb says, “When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills. Let’s be the ones who build windmills. 

4. Practice patience

Patience is a virtue that can be cultivated. This year has not been kind to impatient people. We are still waiting out a pandemic that does not seem to want to go away. It takes time for vaccines to be created, tested, and distributed. 2020 has taught us that in life, sometimes, hardships stay longer than they need to, and they may come back with a vengeance. Patience is definitely needed to deal with obstacles.

5. The importance of good political leadership

The response to the pandemic by different countries has made us aware of how necessary it is to have an inspiring and proactive leader. New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has been praised around the world for her quick action on COVID-19. She has helped New Zealand avoid the deaths that have devastated the US and Europe.

 6. Recognition for previously undervalued workers

It has been heartwarming to see that we as a country are finally giving the farmers, the mailmen, the grocery store stockers and cashiers, the truck drivers, and other workers the respect they deserve. While doctors and nurses have always been admired, we finally learned that we could function and have food on our tables in this pandemic only because these workers risked infection to do their jobs. They are true heroes indeed!

7. It is okay to slow down, spend more time as a family, and self-reflect

This year forced us to slow down and spend time at home. This was definitely an unexpected silver lining for our family in many ways. It gave us some much needed, and cherished, family time.

I love that my daughter is doing her college classes online, and is staying home. I love that we can eat lunch together every day. I also enjoy watching my husband in work from home mode. It is great to see him interact with his team; he is always calm and reassuring others when they are freaking out as their company merged with another right in the middle of a pandemic. It will be an adjustment for me when things go back to normal and I will have to let them go.

2020 also gave us time to rest and recuperate. It gave us time to contemplate and reevaluate our life and relationships. When we are confronted with our own mortality, we realize that time is of essence and we need to get rid of toxic relationships and focus on what is important. Pollution levels came down in many countries, and the earth healed and benefitted in many ways too.

Here is hoping that the dark clouds that have overshadowed 2020 will fade away, and 2021 will be mostly bright and sunny!

What lessons have you learned from 2020?

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Growing up in a small town in India, Mona Verma never dreamed that she would immigrate to America. She came to Columbia in 1996 when her husband found a job here and they were newly married. It was an arranged match but she did get to meet her future husband and give her approval and there has never been a shortage of love in their marriage. With a Masters in English and a Masters in Library and Information Science, Mona divides her time between being a part time Reference librarian and a part time writer. She is however, a full time mom to three teenagers, a girl and two boys. Volunteering, gardening, reading, binge watching her favorite TV shows and drinking wine with girlfriends spark tremendous joy in her. She is a very laid back person who likes to live and let live. Cups of hot ginger tea and hugs and cuddles from her family keep her going….

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