What I Learned in 2020

As it turns out, I learned quite a lot this year

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After what feels like a decade of a year, 2020 is finally coming to an end. I’ve seen a couple of people online share stories recently about what they’ll be leaving behind this year.

I certainly understand the impulse to want to forget that this year happened. It sucked, pretty much globally, for a variety of reasons. However, instead of focusing on what I’d like to leave behind, in this post, I want to share what I’ve learned this year.

I’m not normally much of an introspective person, at least not about the past, but I went back through all of my posts for the year and it turns out there’s lots to learn.

January: lol, resolutions

I said yes to a lot in 2020.

I:

  • did a lot of food related DIYs (including my first ever kombucha, which was my #1 goal of the year).

  • saved a little bit of money

  • worked a lot more than I intended to

  • reduced a lot of my food waste through composting

  • moved my body a lot more than I thought I would (even if it was just around the block to get out of the house)

I also said no this year.

I:

  • tried to reduce my plastic use

  • stopped overextending myself in online classes

The fact that I described 2019 as a dumpster fire is lol, because compared to this year, last year was heaven on earth.

March: Normalcy During a Pandemic Isn’t a Thing

When the entire world came effectively to a halt in March, I don’t think any of us were prepared for how our lives would change. How could we have been?

I’m a bit of a control freak so part of me in March wanted to reclaim some degree of control over a situation I had zero control over (lol, classic).

Over and over again, we defined new normals for work, family and friends and our relationships, until it all felt…well, not normal… but at least like something we could live with.

May: I Can Live Without More Than I Thought

With the overnight switch that many of us faced to working from home, a lot of learned how much of the every day work life we didn’t actually need. For me, I still haven’t gone back to a full face of makeup (even though I started a new job working in person in October).

I originally thought I didn’t need social interaction. What I learned is that I specifically didn’t need social interaction with my past coworkers that only ever induced an anxiety response (more on that later).

As it turns out, when you remove yourself physically from an environment that has been causing you distress, it’s pretty freaking obvious (because you feel so much better instantly).

June: Minimalism Can Mean More

In a year with so much pain and heartbreak, it became abundantly obvious that people were done with Black lives ending for no reason (as they should be). I said it in June and I’ll say it again, we can opt out of a lot of things as minimalists, but we should never opt out of doing what is right.

If you’re not using the time, space and money that your minimalist lifestyle has given you to make a difference in some way for a cause that is important to you, what is the point?

September: My Mental Health is Worth Protecting

July to October of this year was probably the worst four months of my life. On top of the pandemic, my brother got sick and was hospitalized for three weeks (non-COVID related). The toll of his diagnosis coupled with the stress from my job and the pandemic, made me have a mental breakdown. I sunk into a depression, went on sick leave in August and quit my job in October.

While I’m doing much better now, I have always in the back of my mind now reminders of what my mental health slipping feels like so I can watch for it in in the future.

Since starting my new job, I’ve realized how much of an impact my old job had impacted my mental health and I’m promising myself to never let that happen again.

I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to leave a job now if it’s starting to feel like it did this summer. That comes from an enormous place of privilege, and I know that. But protecting my mental health is more important than pretty much anything at this point.

October: Selling a House is Stressful

In October, we sold our house to prep for our move back to southern Ontario. Now having been on both sides of the home ownership transaction, I can confidently say that they are both stressful - just for different reasons.

Selling a house normally is probably stressful. Selling a house on a one-month timeline, by yourself, during a pandemic is even more so. But we learned a lot about the process and didn’t have to give any money to a realtor. We also didn’t sleep for that month. And I spent a solid chunk of my sick leave prepping the house for sale.

So, it’s a bit of a mixed bag.

November: Starting Over is Exciting and Challenging

Every 2-3 years I like to completely change my life. Apparently 2020 was time for my latest attempt because we sold our house, moved to a new city practically on the other side of the country and we both started new jobs pretty much immediately. While living in a 200ish square feet basement Airbnb.

I do enjoy starting over. It’s fun to get to know a new city and explore. Of course, that’s made harder during a pandemic when you’re meant to be spending most of your time indoors.

Here’s hoping 2021 will help us get back to a somewhat normal world (two days after I originally wrote this sentence, my home province of Ontario announced another 28 day lockdown, so maybe not).

December: Time is More Valuable Than Money

Once I started my new job, I was working longer hours every day. That, combined with an actual commute and freelancing on the side for my old job - I was feeling the time crunch.

I started reaching Time Smart and started writing about trying to find more time in my life (I promise I will finish this series some time in 2021).

Probably one of the most important lessons I learned this year is that time is more valuable than money. And that’s not just a cliched saying, it’s proven by research.

How Do You Sum Up a Year Like 2020?

2020 is the year that will live forever in my memory as the hardest year I’ve faced in my 30 years of life (oh yeah, I turned 30 this year too). But, it wasn’t just hard for me. I think that’s what makes 2020 a unique year - the entire globe shared in an experience. Obviously, it was a terrible experience and it’s going to continue into 2021. But, it’s also a unifying experience for everyone around the world. If 2020 has taught me anything, it’s that we’re all just doing the best we can with what we’ve got.

As we prepare to enter another new year, I hope you are able to reflect on 2020 and celebrate even a tiny win you had this year.

Until next time, keep living that tiny life.

I’d love to hear from you on how you’re feeling about heading into 2021. Drop me a comment or email me at tinyambitionsblog@gmail.com.

Image credit: Photo by Danil Aksenov on Unsplash