2020: The Best, The Worst, and How We Made it Through
It’s New Years Eve! And we are all ready to kiss this year goodbye. But before we leave 2020 in the rearview and never look back, I wanted to do just a litttttle bit more reflecting. Come on, it will be fun.
Rather than go on and on about my own personal highs and lows, I decided to do something a little different. I wanted to ask others—you—what 2020 was like. The highs, the lows, the wins and losses, the things that made us cry and the things that brought us joy.
I asked for the Bests and Worsts of 2020, and as a bonus I asked “How’d you get through it?”. I wanted to know what helped everyone cope, stay sane, keep on keeping on. I threw these questions out there and received responses via social media, text and email. And I’ve compiled them all below. A sampling of different peoples’ experiences of 2020. The good, the bad, and the funny.
Why did I ask for the worst?
The reason I did not ask for only the Best of 2020 is that this was a hard year for all of us in some way or another, for some more than others. Not acknowledging this takes a little something away from the moments of brilliant sunshine we’ve experienced. I saw so much gratitude in the responses. So much fortitude. Neither of which would have shown themselves were it not for the darkness, the obstacle, the rip-your-heart out ruthlessness this year brought our way.
Not acknowledging the lows of this trying year also takes something away from the community forged through understanding one another’s struggles. I want you, while reading this, to identify with someone else’s worst of 2020. To wish you could hug them or hold their hand, if you can’t.
Reading these responses made me smile and laugh and cry. And what better way to reflect on this wild and crazy year?
So here they are:
Best of 2020
We unleashed our creativity.
I started writing a novel in November (that I put aside a couple of years ago) and I have been still writing consistently and have taken my fiction writing seriously.
Getting signed to a Big-time music label.
I started a podcast with a friend in early 2020 pre-pandemic and we only recorded 2 or 3 episodes in person before stay at home orders made that impossible. Instead of giving up, we started recording remotely and putting time and energy into that creative project helped me focus on something other than my anxiety. And because it was with a friend, I felt a responsibly to keep going even during weeks when I didn’t have much motivation. And I am super proud to say that the 20th episode is coming out this week!
We did a lot of landscaping at my parents’ house. We built a rock wall, a deck, a fence, and planted so many beautiful flowers and new grass. We did a lot of painting too!
I completed (a rough draft of) the writing project I have been wanting to write for years.
Hope springs from darkness, as wins--big and small-- sprung from 2020.
(those of us who were lucky enough)
New motivation sparked by fear of unemployment that led to a new trade/job that is incredibly fun and rewarding.
Working remote allowed me the opportunity of traveling, which is a passion of mine—while maintaining my job and even getting a promotion starting 1/1/2021.
Having a great year business wise and working on my search engine for lawyers that I will launch in 2021.
We settled in.
A new apartment that feels like home.
I bought my first home! All by myself!
This year ended on a high note for me- to the point where I have found myself asking “was it really THAT bad?” (Yes, it definitely was.) I started a new job at the end of December and just moved into a beautiful new apartment yesterday. I have never invested in a nice place to live, partially because I like to travel, but partially because I always felt that as a single person I didn’t “need” it. That a nice space would be wasted on me. It took being completely shattered by someone else’s hand for me to really understand how short I had been selling myself. Somehow, I am thankful for 2020 for getting me here, because I’m not sure I would have found such clarity on my own.
Letting go of what was wrong for me, and realizing what is right for me has been in front of me for so long. So grateful he waited.
Really, really seeing who my real friends are and learning to 100% appreciate them so much more.
Getting the chance to start over in a new state, when we moved for my wife’s job.
We spent time with those we love.
Getting to spend more time with my son.
Some of my best moments of the year…getting to stay home for 4 months with my family! I did all of the grocery shopping and cooking during that time and it was so fun to experiment with new recipes. We all eat gluten free so we tried lots of new things! My older sister and I took up running. We started slow in April and now we are up to 3 miles almost every day together. Without stopping or cramping! Definitely a big achievement for me. Also, my relationship with her has gotten so much stronger. I can say we are closer now than ever and we really understand each other better.
My youngest son (12) got really into classic movies and we watched a bunch together and he even started wanting to direct. We started working on a World War II movie. One of the highlights of watching movies was that we watched Empire of the Sun with Christian Bale. It was very moving with a haunting soundtrack. It was about a 12-year-old English boy who was left behind in Shanghai when the Japanese invaded, and how he had to survive. The scene at the end where he reunites with his parents after four years and they don’t recognize him made us both cry.
I realized he (my son) was getting older and I think that’s a little sad, to let go. But sharing that moment was one of the highlights of the year.
Expanded our families.
I married the love of my life! My wedding was amazing! After we cancelled it and then reworked everything for a Zoom wedding, it turned out beautifully. And we still got to have our family and friends “be there” for our special day.
We had a baby!
Finally getting a pup!
Getting Gracie, the pup!
We loved ourselves.
I gave up drinking in March also. It has helped my anxiety, mood, sleeping, skin and overall health.
I was afforded the time to self-reflect.
So much self-care. Skin care, yoga, mindfulness, adjusting my diet.
The best thing about 2020 has really been my personal growth. After experiencing the hardest breakup I’ve ever had, I took the time to focus on myself, my health both physical and mental.
I read 56 books? Literally the only thing worth mentioning I’ve done this year.
I read 20 books, which was a goal. Actually, I read 2020. It was a New Years resolution and I actually stuck with it.
We saw the light in the dark.
Best thing, I got my heart broken. It’s been a long, long time since I let anyone in. I forgot what it felt like. I appreciate the range of emotion, but I don’t often set such dramatic hots and colds on my thermostat—usually staying in the tepid or Lukewarm setting. So, when I got busted, I got reminded there were awesome highs on the other side too.
A best and worst all in one. All of my Google Business Reviews disappeared out of nowhere, with no explanation. We all know how important reviews are for a business listed on Google and this felt like the worst thing to ever happen to me and my small business.
At first, the event threw me into an intense tailspin of fear and obsessive thoughts.
This event also led me to deeply evaluate my self-worth, my value in the world, and self-forgiveness. Through a series of therapeutic writing exercises, the truth of my value as a person was revealed. I experienced freedom from fear and pride of reputation. It filled a hole in my soul. My self-worth and self-love flourished.
I realized that I didn’t need Google Reviews to prove my self-worth or the worthiness of my business. The Universe, friends and family, and our return clients already knew how wonderful we were. I believe that everything is in the Universe’s hands and the Universe wants what is best for me. The worst thing that happened to me in 2020 ended up being a beautiful gift in black wrapping paper. A blessing in disguise. The gifts from this event have been my greatest successes of the year. I was gifted with true self-love, self-forgiveness, and the most infinite sense of self-worth.
2020 has tested me quite a bit. But I feel very lucky that I never lost sense of who I am and what I want and how strong and resilient I am. I removed myself from a relationship with a man who I thought I knew. It was an actual blessing. I am so grateful for the things that have happened and have not happened in 2020. I truly believe in timing and I think this year was a lesson learned for all of us, in so many ways.
Worst of 2020
We were awakened to others' realities. We felt seen.
Our eyes were opened. (And it stung.)
Thinking about the injustice in the world and all the people dying needlessly especially those dying alone.
Seeing people go through loss at an alarming rate. Losing hope in the American people. Loud racism. Cutting people out of my life that were once close.
Worst: losing respect for people I love when I saw how they handled a pandemic and white privilege.
I struggled the most with the election, protests, and how divided everyone is. I think it was the worst part of the year for me.
We were lonely.
In the beginning of the pandemic, I struggled not seeing my mom and dad. I was strict about not seeing them and it made me really sad.
Worst is everything having to be held over zoom.
I moved from Boston to New York City solo 6 months before the pandemic started, which has been a huge challenge. What started as an exciting new adventure with so much potential for new experiences and relationships became me alone in a new city away from my loved ones, and without a local support system. I still get a little jealous when I see people with established pods and quarantine crews because I don’t have anyone nearby to make that happen with. So, for the most part it was me and my 2 cats in a small NYC apartment. The most human contact I got was when I needed to see an orthopedist for an ongoing knee issue.
Lost jobs & struggled financially.
Losing all of our employees and fearing that our business would have to shut its doors forever.
Losing my job, which was an economic safety net.
Fear and Anxiety.
Anxiety of the unknown future was the worst for me.
So the worst thing, I let fear in. I’m pretty tough. But this year I let all sorts of demons walk around. Job security fear, which lead to a downward spiral ending with ‘my life is a meaningless joke’. Health concern fears which, even though I’m not the picture of health, I never had before corona. Fear for my country. All sorts on and on…blessed with the wisdom and support to move past those fears though, acknowledge them and sorted it out.
The worst part of my year was dealing with the back and forth of a breakup in a relationship I truly wanted to work. In hindsight, the growth it allowed me to have superseded the breakup itself, but the 2-3 months it took to heal were probably the lowest parts of life I can remember. Seeking help and clarity from friends, family and professional help allowed me to see the light. It also gave me new friends that I’ll be friends with for a lifetime. So, looking back, though it was still the worst part of the year it opened up opportunity for me.
This year brought me face to face with my darkest demons and deepest insecurities. All triggered by someone I cared for deeply leaving me in a way that was unimaginably cruel. He cut me slowly and picked at the scabs as I healed, and all of the things I would normally do to cope were unavailable to me. I remember one day I woke up and went to get a donut Kane’s only to end up in the White Mountains. A couple months later it was Georgia. Then the Smokey Mountains. Then Montana. Withdrawing and connecting with nature is what healed me.
A rift in my family that, after months, still hasn’t and may never heal. It makes me feel lost at sea.
Coping with 2020
How’d we get through the lows, the fears, the worries, the loss? Well, we did it in lots of ways.
We leaned on others, and they leaned on us.
We got outside!
Bike riding saved me! Seriously!
Definitely, getting outside was a big part of the year, it helped to keep my youngest son occupied and we got to spend time together. We hit every trail in the town and there were a lot of trails, we must have gone on about 15 different trails and it was great.
I coped through 2020 by being active and making sure I left the house everyday despite working from home.
Going for walks with a friend.
Taking a drive, just to get away.
We Indulged in our vices. (Whatever they were.)
Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia, Gaga’s Chromatica, and the Miley Cyrus song Midnight Sky were really my saving graces musically. But also, Taylor. Real Housewives of Potomac was the bees knees this season, which I needed. My sleep schedule is effed up but nothing a little wine can’t help.
And smoking. And baking.
Watched a lot of YouTube.
I ate a lot of cheese. Like the good kinds. Fancy cheeseboards for dinner.
Or cut them out.
Removing myself from social media.
I didn’t drink because I thought drinking in quarantine would make me more depressed.
Leaned on others.
My wife and my family got me through.
Connecting with friends via Marco Polo.
Playing games virtually with friends.
And showed up for them, too.
I spent more time with family than I was able to in past years. I was able to support/help family and be present in ways I couldn’t when I commuted to work.
Being of service to others.
Reached out to friends to see how they were. I would write this in my to-do list for the day, choosing a friend to contact and check up on. Not because it was a chore, but because I thought it was important enough to write down and remember to do.
Seeing, in vivid display, so much racial injustice in America made me feel hopeless, angry, depressed, exhausted. I coped by signing petitions, marching in protests, donating to causes, seeking education, and using my social media accounts to amplify voices of people of color.
Produced and created music.
Trying new recipes.
Created a YouTube channel.
And other good-for-you activities.
We practiced gratitude.
Super cliche now, but I’m just so glad I still have a decent paying full time job.
I had to learn to cope with the guilt of being so fortunate and privileged throughout this pandemic. I still have my job, am financially stable, and have honestly been living my best life. I express gratitude daily– usually out loud. I have tried to make the most of my time, working towards goals, so that I don’t feel like I squandered my opportunity and good luck.
I also try to be open to others’ experiences. Being up on the news on relief bills, voting, getting educated about how the Pandemic is affecting us all differently, how traditionally oppressed and underrepresented groups of people are suffering the most. I try to be louder in my beliefs: I don’t deserve it more. It shouldn’t come down to ‘luck’.
Living alone and experiencing the Pandemic in NYC was tough, but I continued to remind myself how lucky I was for the little things. I wasn’t alone, I had the company of my two cats and easy access to friends and family on FaceTime. I had Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime AND Disney+! I also tried Zoom speed dating which was super weird and I do not recommend!
The moment we've all been waiting for.
I identify with so many of these things—the highs and the lows. I saw some coping methods I’ve been employing myself, and some others that sound like great ideas to try for early 2021!
Unfortunately, the pandemic will not be over once the ball drops and the clock strikes midnight. The millions of vanished jobs will not magically reappear. Racism will not be dead in America. Our lost loved ones will not be returned to us. But we still have the highs. Our coping mechanisms—lists of them! We still have our resilience. And ourselves. And each other.
Let’s lean on them when we need to.
Things will get better. Here’s hoping they get better sooner.
Here’s hoping for more love and less loss, community over division. More soul-filling moments than heart-breaking ones. That we may continue to succeed and achieve and absolutely CRUSH it in all the ways we managed to in 2020. And maybe even more. That gratitude stays with us, becomes more widespread.
Here’s hoping for more ‘Bests’ than ‘Worsts’ in 2021.
Happy New Year
Image credit in order of appearance
Sparkler by Free-Photos via Pixabay
Plant by Congerdesign via Pixabay
Protest by Justin Kilian via Pixabay
Child facemask by Marcos Cola via Pixabay
New Years Road by Gert Altmann via Pixabay
Fantastic! I loved reading this and can’t wait to share!!
Loved this. Thanks Tone.