2020 has been a year best described as a marathon, not a sprint. Key themes for me have centred around acceptance, accountability and community. It has been a time of immense pain, loss, and hardship for many. It is only reasonable then that at the 11th hour of the year we can all take a moment to sit, reflect, and learn from the year that we have all persevered through.
I would like to use this article to explore some of my own experiences and learnings from this past year.
I acknowledge that my experience has been one of privilege. I have not struggled or felt the financial pain in any way as harshly as others, yet I feel we can all benefit from unpacking and processing this year.
Firstly, I have grown into the idea that it is ok to slow down. As a culture, it seems we often measure our success, value, and personhood on how “busy” we are. Not exactly if what we are doing has a purpose, meaning, or value, merely if we are constantly busy, whether this is having too many work commitments, or an overflow of social engagements or family involvement. The COVID pandemic forced us all to halt and pause our chaotic lives for a moment.
This is a powerful tool – we can often overcrowd our lives as a means of distraction and soothing when other psychological forces feel overwhelming. This drive for being “busy” can also yield its own sense of emotional weight and burden. So, forcing ourselves to stop allows us to reflect on what truly matters to us in our lives. This can be hard and elicit a sense of loss for our work or social lives, but we can hold this and explore other parts of ourselves that may have been neglected.
Another area that has been neglected is the value of social connection and conversation. When in the past having social connection was something easily achieved, we would take this for granted, often skipping plans or not engaging and appreciating our social connectedness. When there is a scarcity placed on these resources of connection, it highlights how important it is for us to feel socially vibrant and valued. I found myself unexpectedly reaching out and connecting in order to feel connected and supported by friends.
As people, we constantly seek a community that reflects our own values and interests. We strive to be with others who share our world view and perspectives. Without this, we can easily become isolated and despondent.
This year too saw the rise to prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement. While this is not a new issue, it saw an increase in awareness in mainstream media. As a Caucasian person living in Australia, it has been apparent to me for some time that my experience does not reflect that of everyone’s. Where I have had success or joy, others have been met with rejection or prejudice. The unconscious prejudice and bias inherent in many white cultures came to a peak this year.
It is easy for those in power to become complacent to the inequalities felt by others. It is a wound that those in power need constant reminding of. It highlights the fact that in order to be responsive to the needs of those suffering requires more than awareness – it needs active and mindful involvement. Issues of inequality ought to be at the forefront of our minds and decision making. Without this, it is easy to fall into unconscious biases in thinking.
While the contents of this year have been grand in magnitude and unprecedented, the core themes and messages to take away should not be.
Issues around finding your core values and joys in life should always be in our minds. The need for social connection and acceptance allows us to flourish and grow. Being accepting and honest of the privilege we benefit from and the systems that hold down others is important in order to bring about real change. These are all things that I have absorbed from this year that I want to share with you.
I will be back working with clients from the 8 January 2021. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if the above article resonates with you in light of your own situation.