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2020: I Hated It, but I Learned a Lot

*Warning: this is an extremely self-indulgent post and was only intended as an online journal entry, essentially!

Now that I’ve had time to digest the fact that 2020 is over, that 2021 started as a shit show, and that we are resilient beasts, I decided to go over a few things from 2020 for “fun”. I kept a journal and took some photos. It’s kind of entertaining, but also very eye opening. January and February were so normal in the sense that I went to Portland with friends for New Year’s (socializing and border hopping!), going to the breweries every weekend (drinking with other people! Drinking in general!), spending $150 on take out (each month…ouch), and teaching in a Kindergarten class (no masks, hand washing was a battle, hugging was not actively discouraged).

In March 2020 my journal tone started to change – we were hearing more and more about this virus that was spreading, but in our hubris we still weren’t totally convinced it would happen to us. It hasn’t happened to us in so long, why would it happen now? God, we were naive, and presented a really disgusting view of superiority (it won’t happen to us HERE). Well, it did happen, and obviously is still happening. Quite apart from everything else (I am not glossing over how horrible this pandemic has been, but this is a personal blog and I am treating it as such) I think we all learned an incredibly harsh lesson as the pandemic progressed. No one nation is special, no one nation can beat a virus by sheer denial. I learned I am incredibly grateful for “socialized” medicine and for a competent federal and provincial government. I learned which of my acquaintances I didn’t want to be around any more, and which of my friends were genuinely good people.

*I learned that I am not as much of an ally as I thought I was to BIPOC, and am actively working to change that through unlearning and education, but that is a post for another day.

I learned that it is no longer acceptable for me not to treat my body well. We all reach that stage, where the aches and pains and headaches get to be the norm. I think what a lot of us don’t realize (or choose not to acknowledge) is how preventable that all is. Lift weights. Exercise. Eat less shit, eat more good quality meat and veggies to the best of your ability. Get off your screen for a little while. Don’t drink as much. We all know these things, of course we do, but it does take a little while for the message to sink in. I am no longer staring at photos of fit women and wishing I was like them; no, I am now actively working to becoming one of those pictures. I lift weights three times a week, walk every day, eat a diet that works best for my body (grass-fed beef, pastured eggs, veggies galore, a little bit of fruit, 90% dark chocolate, etc.), and have stopped drinking. This has been going on for a little over a month, and the benefits keep appearing on a daily basis. No one can tell me that these aren’t the right choices for me, but I learned the lesson the hard way – I sank into a funk, sat in front of the tv/laptop for hours at a time, found no stimulation outside of the screen, and didn’t move for days. Thankfully, my body let me know very quickly that it was unacceptable and I slowly started to make small changes to get to my level of activity now.

I learned how important my family and friends are to me, mainly because I missed them so much. I am so excited for the day that I can rush up to all of them at once, when we are all in the same spot (maybe a garden party) and give each and every one of them the longest hug they’ve ever received. I have learnt to appreciate the technology that we have now to stay in touch and see each others’ faces. I know now not to take anyone for granted and to touch base as often as I can.

I have learned how awesome my husband is. I already knew he was great, but so much time together has brought us closer, and I can’t wait to start a family with him (we’re trying!) and meet challenges as they come together. I learned how lucky I am in my relationships, and how much I depend on socializing as a means of stress relief and self-affirmation.

I have learned how to not spend money in the past few weeks. I have learned to be happier with what I have and to realize that I do not need to buy things anymore. I am so lucky because I have everything I need – I genuinely never need to buy anything again in terms of material goods, except maybe pants every once in a while. I have made it a little goal to buy no new clothes this year (though if I get pregnant I will probably need to loosen this rule).

I have learned that I am more resilient than I have ever thought, and that I am stronger, smarter and more capable that I ever thought possible. Throughout the horrors that occurred in 2020 I have managed to keep a smile on my face, while still becoming more comfortable discussing difficult subjects with a variety of people and remaining civil and respectful (this took a lot of trial and error!).

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