3 Things 2020 Has Taught Me (so far...)
If you told me at the end of 2019 that in 2020 humanity would face World War 3 threats, continuous world disasters, that the entire cast of “Friends” would sign on for a reunion, and oh, the world would experience a global pandemic leading to a worldwide quarantine… I would have scoffed.
85 days into 2020, and the joke is on me.
With no empirical proof or logic, I believed that 2020 would be a year for the books, all because my favourite era was the 1920’s. Except the 1920’s ended with the Great Depression; while 2020 has begun with one (metaphorically speaking… so far anyways).
As I wrap my head around the overwhelming reality that is 2020, I decided to focus on the cup being half full; versus it being half empty. I reflected upon the things that I’ve learned so far, and it’s been quite useful in helping me keep my sanity intact.
1. Everything is temporary.
I once read a quote from Heraclitus, this old Greek Philosopher (c. 500 BCE old), that stated that “change is the only constant in life” (Mark, 2010). That sentence reminds me that pain, challenges, happiness, and humans themselves are nothing but temporary. Which makes sense: bad things in your life take short turns with all the good things, and after the accumulation of all the moments that were meant for us to experience, we eventually die. Its like that saying “nothing lasts forever.” Things are constantly changing and never staying as is; leaving us dynamic creatures to adapt to all those constant switch ups.
The series of changes we endure are part of the experiences we go through, which ultimately shape the person we are at this very moment. That is why in these trying times, it is important to remember that to experience change, whether catastrophic or minute, means that you are still part of life’s journey. That these are temporary moments in our life that will pass and in turn, we will change because of them and that is normal.
2. Being Angry is Okay.
It’s actually healthy. And no, I am not losing my mind or have gone “mad” due to the past 3 months we’ve been having, but being angry allows us to pause and question, “is what I am angry about something I can control?” I am generally an optimistic person, but I have found myself unable to escape the negativity the news and social media have been airing, leaving me frustrated and angrier than normal. This brought me to the realization that being angry is a reminder to calm down and focus on yourself and what you can personally manage, versus what others are doing. After all, you are not responsible for anyone other than yourself.
Being angry can make you sit down and ask, “what is it I am actually upset about?” Am I really angry that my brother is inhaling every last bit of our “quarantine” snacks, or am I angry at the fact that I just had a shitty day at work? Being angry can allow us to step back into ourselves and realize that a lot of the time, we are projecting our inner problems on to others. This opens a window to focus on tackling the root of that anger, rather than have it fester inside and continue to project. Maybe this gives us an opportunity to sublimate that anger into something productive and helpful.
3. Do Not Set Expectations.
The second we set expectations, we won’t accept anything less than what we have set our mind to. I’ve learned that it’s true: expectations only breed as they say, “disappointment.” Now yes we’re only 3 months into 2020, but honestly, these 3 months have already disappointed me. Why though? Well because I had plans. I had set “expectations” when it came to my career, my friends and family, and my personal life. So when things didn’t go “to plan,” I was left feeling unsatisfied and distracted by the fact nothing was living up to those “expectations.”
While we plan and set expectations, we forget that things change quickly — that includes people who may have been evergreen in our mind. As 2020 brings more and more unexpected moments, I have began to calibrate my expectations by lowering them until they no longer exist. I found that it is when we do not have anything in mind, are we most sheltered from our own self inflicted disappointment. When we no longer set assumptions, we’ll be more content. I will not assume that something will work out as I imagined. So when it does, I’ll be pleased, and when it doesn’t, I’ll be indifferent. All because I didn’t set standards for something to live up to.
It’s difficult to believe that some things will not work out in a certain way, but that is the key. To throw the standards and the bars we’ve held over our heads for so long, relax and trust that the universe pairs us with outcomes that are most favourable for our journey.
Looking with side-curved head curious what will come next,
Both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it.
- Walt Whitman
The first 85 days of 2020 (which have either felt like 2 days or 2 years — or both at the same time) have been a lesson; or maybe a reminder. A reminder that as intrapersonal and interpersonal changes happen, it is all temporary until the next change comes about. A reminder that anger itself occurs as a reminder to focus on understanding your problems and not to extend them on to others. A reminder that expectations are too strong of a belief for the weak world we live in; that to live without them, is to free your experiences from any restrictions or disappointments.
Just as Walt Whitman looked at his life with a curious, side-curved head in 1855, I too, look at the rest of 2020 with the same curiosity. A curiosity that will not scoff, and never rule out the possibility of just about anything happening.