I am all for putting 2020 in the past and not talking about it for a while. However, I couldn’t let the most difficult year of my life pass without making a few reflections on what it taught me.
Life can be really unfair. Losing my mother at 19 and turning 20 in lockdown without any of my friends wasn’t exactly how I envisaged life going. Sometimes things happen that turn your world upside down and inside out and it is just really unfair. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, and it can be tough to comprehend.
You deserve to be happy. This might seem obvious, but it is something I have struggled to accept. I hit some of the lowest points in my life this year and trying to pull myself back out and remind myself that I am allowed to feel happy hasn’t always been easy. When you are happy embrace it and remind yourself you deserve it as much as everyone else.
Happiness really is a journey, not a destination. While talking about happiness, I had to pull out this cheesy quote. Despite how cheesy it may be, it is really true. I used to think I had to do and achieve certain things before I could be happy. I was always waiting for the right moment when I would finally be happy. This year taught me that you can’t wait to be happy. Like I said before you deserve to be happy and by waiting for the “right moment” you might never actually be happy.
I still really love One Direction. Not everything I learned this year was a profound life lesson but turns out lockdown + TikTok = me realising I still love One Direction as much as I did when I was 14. This might be the best lesson I learned all year. (Alexa, play Fireproof by One Direction).
Sometimes you just have to look after your inner child. I spent a lot of time as a teenager trying to grow up faster, to make myself seem older, to move away from being a child. Turns out, a pair of roller skates and a giant teddy bear make me a lot happier than forcing myself to grow up, ever did. Now, this is not to say I’ve abandoned all adult responsibilities – I can’t really do that – but I have found a great balance.
Life is tough, but so am I. 2020 didn’t make itself easy to get through, with a new challenge around every corner. I quickly learned that life could be very tough but I am so much tougher than I ever thought I was.
You have to put yourself first. This was a hard lesson to learn (and to remember). I have always liked to put others before myself, and worry about other people before looking after myself. This isn’t always a bad thing but turns out it doesn’t always work and sometimes you just have to make the decisions that are the best for you. It mightn’t be easy and it might even feel kind of wrong but trust me, future you will be so thankful.
Things don’t always go to plan. I’m a planner. I like to have plans. I like to know what the next step is. To say 2020 was full of surprises would be an understatement. I quickly learned that not everything goes to plan. Sometimes things work out. Sometimes they don’t and that’s okay too. I’m still learning to accept this.
TikTok dances are hard. Turns out procrastinating assignments by learning the Renegade was much harder than anticipated. I think I’ll just have to leave the dancing to the experts and stick to my One Direction TikToks.
Sometimes you need to be alone, and that’s okay. Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to spend some time alone, watching a good t.v show, reading a good book, whatever you want. You don’t need to feel bad about wanting to be alone.
You need fresh air. I was all for doing my daily walks during the first lockdown, but then suddenly I was back to college (all online), staring at a screen all day, and realised I hadn’t stepped outside in three days. After letting this happen on numerous occasions, I realised I needed to make a conscious effort to get outside every day and it made a massive difference. I had really underestimated the importance of fresh air. This is my reminder to you – please get some fresh air today!
The right choice isn’t always an easy choice. Deciding not to go on my Erasmus, which I had been dreaming of since my Leaving Cert, was not an easy decision. It was difficult and I cried over it many times but ultimately I know it was the best decision for me. Sometimes you have really difficult decisions to make and it can be hard to accept that the right choice isn’t always the easiest option.
Don’t feel guilty about not being “productive.” It is impossible to be productive all the time, nor is it necessary to be productive all the time. You are so much more than your productivity, don’t let it define you.
You can always try again tomorrow. Some days, things just don’t work out and it can be really frustrating, but tomorrow is a new day and if it isn’t working today you can try again tomorrow.
I still don’t like coffee. I may be a final year college student running on low energy a lot of the time but I still just don’t like coffee (the jury is still out on whether it’s a good or a bad thing). I tried the famous whipped coffee from the first lockdown and even that didn’t do it for me. I think I’ll just stick to tea.
Perfection is an impossible standard to set for yourself. I won’t lie and say I learned this lesson and immediately implemented it into my life. As a perfectionist, this is a really hard one to accept, but trust me on this, you lose more on trying to achieve perfection than you ever will gain by achieving perfection. I’m writing this to remind myself as much as whoever is reading this – perfection is an impossible standard and it is perfectly okay to not be perfect (whatever perfect is anyway).
I would like to think that I could have made this 20 Lessons from 2020, but we’re going to have to settle for 16 (perfection is impossible anyway 😛). This was a year full of some really big life lessons, not always pleasant or easy ones, and I hope that by reading this you will learn at least one thing that can help you in some way!
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