In about two days, its going to be “remember the past year” week. We’ll hear stories about the good and the bad of the past and predictions for 2021. I’m betting that most of the news will be about how much 2020 sucked. It’ll cue lots of 2020 memes. And while its funny to read, honestly, you should just turn it off.
Because in reality, if you’re going to let the media tell you how to view every year, you’re a fool.
In 2020, I had planned on going to Disney World with my family. Our plans were shattered by COVID-19. Instead, I built alternate plans and found ways to extend our tickets and reservations until we could find a better date.
In 2020, I had hoped to transfer to a new job. COVID-19 shattered that, and at one point I was working in “partial isolation,” which meant I could only go to work, and then I had to stay isolated at my house under Navy orders. I could have fretted, but instead I focused on improving my property with a better playground set and making the most of my time with my kids.
In 2020, school was supposed to be awesome, but COVID-19 wrecked it all. Instead of panic, we worked through online school, and even found ways to enhance our schooling. It’s not the best, but its certainly better than many places.
2020 is going to become a punchline for many people about how terrible life can be. I won’t deny that circumstances in 2020 put many people in a bad place. But I argue that too much of that is our own thinking. I can’t control my state and local government response, but I can control my response. When toilet paper became scarce, a fellow church member bailed my family out, and I realized we had a stronger church community in trying times. When one of my coworkers needed sweet potatoes because that’s all her autistic kid will eat, I happened to find some at Aldi, bought 5 pounds worth and gave them to her. When our neighbors were feeling stressed, I told them to send their kids to my house so they could play on our playplace and give them some much needed space. Every time I chose to take action to improve my situation or one of my neighbors/friends/coworkers, I found that I had far more freedom than the media would give me credit.
There will be a temptation to blame everything bad on 2020. Don’t do it. It’s OK to admit it was challenging, but you must OWN your response to events. When bad things happen, you choose how to respond to those events. When you refuse to be passive, it gives you strength, and it puts you in the right mindset to take advantage of opportunities. I refused to sit in the backseat for 2020, and you should too.
I wish you a happy, if somewhat belated, Christmas, a great New Year, and a future of continuing to make your own choices on how to react to the things around you!
This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.