Eye-opening. That’s the word that comes to mind when I reflect on a year filled with unprecedented change. While it’s safe to say that 2020 has impacted everyone in different ways, I’m thankful that my friends and family have remained safe during the pandemic. Still, after nine months of mostly staying home, I can admit that there have been difficult moments. But during a year that has seen record-high unemployment rates and taken hundreds of thousands of American lives, it would be selfish to complain about sitting inside my apartment. So I won’t. Instead, I’m choosing to be mindful and recognize how this experience has shaped me.
No one can take away your loneliness the way you can.
Here’s the thing about having less distractions—it allows more time to face your thoughts. As the external world slowed, I began to focus internally. While I’ve probably dwelled on every situation that has happened to me over the last decade (not joking), I’ve also confronted the triggers that cause my reactions. After all, it’s a lot easier to accept your emotions when you’re able to understand them.
In other words, the pandemic has proved that healing isn’t linear and ignoring your feelings will only prolong your hurt. Letting go is a process that varies for every person—there was trauma, it stung for multiple reasons and the aftermath can be devastating. So instead of blaming ourselves for the amount of time it may take to overcome a situation, we need to recognize our progress, set (and stick to) our boundaries and appreciate our growth.
If you’re not hurting, you’re not healing.
Along with digging deeper, this year has encouraged me to be more present and find happiness in everyday life. Seeing a pink sunset from my balcony. Finding the best muffin recipe. Reading books (45 to be exact). Watching the leaves change colors. Putting up Halloween decorations. Building my first bagel board. Ordering Chinese food on Thanksgiving. Sending handwritten holiday letters. And I’ve finally accomplished tasks that were always on my to-do list. Snagging pants, jeans and joggers that fit without being hemmed? Yes. Decluttering and reorganizing my entire apartment? Done. Propagating my plants? Check.
There is no greater love story than the one you find within yourself.
While 2020 has seemingly paused normalcy in many aspects, it has provided an opportunity for us to find peace in these quiet moments—and grow in ways that may not be seen physically. From our mindset to our self-awareness, the pandemic is a reminder to reflect on where we’ve been, where we are and where we want to go. Although this year has been challenging, I feel privileged to have spent the increased time alone with the most important person in my life: myself. In the end, there’s power in feeling full by our own company and pride in knowing that we have no one but ourselves to thank for that.