Hindsight is 2020
A year seemingly defined by the COVID-19 pandemic, palpable evidence of climate change, escalation of social justice movements, enormous increase in the support for mental health, the urgent need to address diversity, equality and inclusion, the most contentious elections in U.S. history and cold war trade conflicts. 2020 has presented challenges never seen before and put many of us through the wringer.
Despite all this, 2020 has also yielded the creation of unparalleled entertainment events, opportunities for personal growth, invention of new business ideas, pivoting existing ones and forcing us to redefine ourselves outside of our routines to face our futures with a more intense sense of purpose and much-needed hope.
However, frequently lost within the roller coaster that is 2020 is our mental well-being — our sense of personal happiness in relation to a global scourge. As macro-level threats challenge the safety of humanity, it seems almost wrong to dwell on ourselves.
So, as we walk out of 2020, what learnings do we take with us?
Whether you’re looking to reminisce on the year’s bright or brash spots or work out what your hopes for change in the year to come will be, there is much to think about.
I tried to work out one word that would describe this year and I couldn’t. It has been the most indescribable year of our lives. “Crazy” feels like an understatement, so does “irregular”, “volatile” more like it, “unpredictable” defines most of life anyway.
What was different about 2020 compared to other years?
You have witnessed people all around the world become inextricably linked through one shared experience. 2020 is a year when you see, not only your soul, but your emotions and your humanity clearly in others.
As this global connection takes its course, we will all have moments when we feel alone, isolated, misunderstood or torn apart. Then days when we feel there is an army of individuals, organisations and government standing outside our door to provide support.
2020 has made us question our ethics, morals, belief systems, our faith and who and what is important. Major issues can divide us over mental health, climate change, politics, technology. It’s taken us to another level of impacting our emotions and thoughts. It has, in many instances, rearranged or re-evaluated what is important for our own lives or our families.
And unfortunately, these divisions will physically manifest in ways that future generations will read about one day. On the flip side, and a brighter side, you got the chance to use your voice, even when you were apprehensive.
Am I excited to see 2020 behind us? Of course, I am. But there have been so many things to learn that I hope we are all a lot wiser about the way we treat each other, that respect becomes a primary resonating emotional thought process in our speak, our actions, in use of technology and in the way we present ourselves to each other.
I have seen and experienced, recently, actions of disrespect or impatience, not necessarily to me but to people around me. I hope takeaways from this year include truly understanding patience, resilience, kindness, empathy, consideration and compassion.
That we turn our attention to Australian business and expand purchasing locally, even if it does cost an extra dollar or two.
Most of the things that happened this year, were not anticipated and couldn’t have been expected.
And if they were, they won’t be the way you planned it. But as resilient Australians, we ‘pivoted’ and created flexible plans, adapted new ways and adopted new strategies. We varied our behaviours to look at life, changing the perspective and adjusting our vision to fit our day to day.
I think we now have found a greater understanding of empathy. We value hugs and handshakes and when we do get them or give them, they feel warmer and more deliberate. Human touch was one of the major withdrawals we had to contend with this year and even though technology has a significant place amongst the younger generations, their reactions to being locked inside reflected the need for freedom. This should be more important than social media. We can only hope!
2020 has been a year of discovery and reconsideration, a year of contradictions and a year of selective blank slates.
Being locked in a house with a partner or family for long periods of time, created contrary emotions. We saw an increase in domestic violence, increase in drinking, an escalation of anxiety and stress between partners but on the flipside, we learnt to appreciate teachers, nurses, doctors and frontline workers. We have seen individuals go beyond their limits to be compassionate towards another. We may even see a spike in the number of babies being born in the next year.
While these past 12 months have been destructive in their delivery of epiphanies, they delivered nonetheless. All while watching each continent shut its borders and attempt to lock out, or lock in, the impending disarray and chaos whilst at the same time finding the truth about what’s important to us.
2020 has been a year of discovery and reconsideration, a year of contradictions and a year of selective blank slates. And for all of us, who often extoll the catharsis of understanding and defining our feelings, it was a year of finally learning the meaning of words we had previously overused: gratitude, happiness, family, privilege and bittersweet.
The months that we spent at home this year were months of intense, sometimes devastating periods of internal reflection. For the first time in years, you may have asked yourself what you want from life. Who do you want to be? What would make you happy? Do you like the things you are doing and what are the demands that you have from life?
To be honest, the answers may be unimportant compared to the process itself. The act of checking in with yourself was the important part. There was clarity in knowing that our aspirations were not a product of habit. Quarantining at home showed us what our true priorities were and are. There is beauty in reflection and rumination, in spending time with oneself.
Over this year, we’ve learnt to untangle our sense of worth. The inequitable impact of the health crisis showed us that productivity is a luxury that not many can always afford.
Each country held its own class on human happiness and hopefully we have been taught the incredible effect of “awe” on humans. It’s easy to be awed by incredible experiences, fantastic events, life changing moments. But we need to let ourselves be in awe of the seemingly insignificant – a small scientific discovery, a succinct line of code that can evolutionise an idea, the cleansing of the oceans and rivers, the clearing of mountain vistas hidden for years and overall nature had a time out from the human condition.
To finish – a wonderful statement by Anthony Hopkins. The veteran actor also admitted that he had ‘off days’ and ‘little bits of doubts’ as well as a video we have all loved “The Great Realisation.”
“All I say is hang in there. Today is the tomorrow you were so worried about yesterday…people, don’t give up… just keep fighting. Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid. That’s what I got to say. A Happy New Year! This is going to be the best year, thank you.” Anthony Hopkins