All in all, I think the majority can agree that 2020 in its entirety was a disaster. Through loved ones lost, sickness looming, financial crises and identities shattered, the veil lifted completely and the world will never be the same.
I’m that in-between, that utters a chuckle when a 2020 Twitter joke pops up on the timeline but also scalds myself right after, telling myself that absolutely nothing is funny about the world’s current state. We’re living through seemingly intransigent history and the finish line is completely invisible even into 2021. All we can do is keep hurdling in the face of adversity.
I’ve watched lives fall apart, simultaneously envying the lives of those that only benefited from our new circumstances. Some people were made to thrive in the solidarity and confinement but to others, including myself, the isolation felt like a punishment. I was unable to understand why I couldn’t seem to look myself in the mirror and find love. I couldn’t sit alone every day without work or routine because I had no idea who I was without all the extra. I was made to face codependency, loneliness, low self-esteem, and empty motive along with a plethora of struggles that stemmed directly from the pandemic. Circa early 2020 I was coming out of a traumatic break-up, in desperate need of housing with an empty bank account, no job or even small side work in sight. My world, as I knew it at least, was ending and my entire persona was crushed. I found myself blaming the break-up along with the pandemic for all of the fall-out, when really I had yet to face the fact that I had amassed nothing for myself and that I was devoid of individual personality.
Though that’s another story for another time, the point and focus here is that for a period of months I truly trained myself to believe that I had nothing. That this world was nothing, and that it had nothing for me; that I would become nothing. I worked harder than ever and found housing but had no money for entertainment- so I had nothing. I returned home to changed circumstances after the break-up, meaning I was alone nearly all of the time- so I had no one. I got over the heartache, but the next man didn’t want me- so I was nothing. Creative block stopped me from producing genuine poetry and art- so I had no purpose. I couldn’t find work, and to eat I had to constantly badger my grandparents- so I was a liability. I had let myself sink into some sort of halfway self-induced depression that felt impossible to escape, and I was ready to let 2020 crush me as it had done many others.
Here’s the real: After a couple weeks of worrying and grinding, I finally had a place to lay my head, cry, scream, process and relax. My friend’s weren’t there to feed my insatiable need for purpose anymore since I’d been gone, so I finally had time to learn how to indulge myself. I got over the heartache only to learn that solely my ego was bruised and needed intense healing and deescalation practice and now that I was alone, I had all the time in the world for that. Artistry is my purpose, but I came to the realization that in order to produce solid material, I had to dissect, plan, categorize and execute properly. I couldn’t find work but, with the time awarded to me through “sabbatical”, I came to understand myself and what I truly love to do- the work followed swiftly after.
I flipped the script on 2020 (personally). I found a way to be still, heal, and then breathe life into the year that tried to kill me. I found a way to make my demons into heroes, my vices into freedom, and I owe it all to the year that shook the world. 2020 didn’t end my life, quite the contrary; it saved my life, my mental state, my physical and spiritual being. Last year pushed me to be better, and this year will push me to execute.
I know for a fact that there are so many others out there that have faced the same troubles… so many that have persevered. I also know that there are so many out there that look at last year as something they never want to imagine could, will, or even ever did happen. Some would rather act as though the year never existed, as if it’s cursed, and I can’t blame these people because at a time I felt the exact same way.
But I urge, wholeheartedly, the entire process of healing no matter the pace of progress. Recount your losses and find the small wins you unknowingly collected between the cracks, or recover the victories just sitting there waiting for you to conquer your fears and grab them up. It can be difficult, sometimes completely terrifying to revisit and deconstruct things you may remember as traumatic. I can understand and attest to that fact myself. Though what I can also attest to is the absolute privilege that comes with liberating yourself from the shackles of personal affliction.
Take that leap and breathe life into your 2020. Take that year back and grow from it, because it’s not too late. It’s never too late to heal. Go back and collect your 2020 victories, no matter how long it takes!