2020 has been a terrible year for many. At this point, millions of people have already been harmed by the illness caused by COVID-19. Countless people are anxious about political unrest, a faltering economy, natural disasters, and general global instability. All of that is already happening, and looking forward, a return to normalcy looks far off. We have another hard year ahead of us.
The effects of the current situation have been unequal and have moved at varying speeds through countries, communities, and families. While one of your neighbors may still be employed, healthy, and making money in the stock market, another neighbor may be out of work, depressed, and ill. Shelter-in-place based isolation is segmenting the timeline of events each of us is experiencing and it is breaking down the foundations of empathy.
All of these troubles have the side effect of serving as an inflection point. These challenges have pushed people in new uncomfortable directions. We have been forced to learn how our loved ones and we deal with unprecedented situations. Like all difficult situations, this year’s events have provided a peek behind the curtains of human nature and individual motivations.
Earlier on in my process of dealing with 2020, I tried to find the good in the bad. For maybe the first time in my life, I discovered I wasn’t ready to be positive. I still needed time to heal. I was fooled by a period of numbness to the anxiety this year created, but when I looked inward, the numbness faded, and the anxiety won out. It was a false start.
I tried again and again, and still, my anxiety grew. I grew more hopeless, dismissive, and frustrated.
Through an inconsistent but frequent dosage of going out into nature, distancing myself from the daily news minutiae, and a lot of physical exercise, I eventually started to make progress fighting the anxiety. Not every day is a win, but I am finally in a place where more days are good than bad.
This has opened up an opportunity, an opportunity that will likely be available to nearly everyone once they reach the right spot in their own battle with 2020, an opportunity to ask yourself an important question.
How do you want to remember your experience of the pandemic?
The future version of you will almost certainly think back on these times. While likely to be a rare occurrence, you may even have a member of a future generation ask you about your time now. (Similar to if you ever asked your elders about their experiences during the wars of the past.)
What story do you want to tell then?
You might not have the opportunity to direct that story now, you may still be getting your bearings and energy back. Still, once you do inevitably regain some control, you will have a chance to take action.
What will that action be?
What did you overcome? Where were you successful? Where did you fail? What did you learn about your own character? Who in your life became more important? What do you wish you would have done differently? How did you spend your time? With whom did you spend that time?
These questions are an opportunity to craft a story that you will be proud to tell. Your actions right now and in the coming months will become the plot of what may end up becoming the most important story of your life.