Over on my Instagram, I’m always talking about how much you should treat a negative, or unpredicted situation, as a chance to learn. Whether it’s doing something new and learning a new skill, or facing a pandemic and learning a few new coping mechanisms. So I wanted to put together a little reflective post on the last ten months and look at what 2020 has taught me, so far.
I’d be interested to know what you’ve learnt from this year, so make sure to leave a comment at the end!
So, what ten things have the last ten months taught me?
Holidays are my escape
I have always loved going away. I was lucky enough to go on some cool, adventurous holidays with my family as a kid and I was grateful to meet my boyfriend who also loves travelling. So the last few years have been filled with fun trips that act as my personal form of escapism. As such, this year has been tough without them.
I’ve had a couple of breaks around the UK but it doesn’t quite compare to exploring a new country and feeling that warm sun on my skin. It’s definitely shown me that holidays are a priority for me going forward, and I shouldn’t feel bad about the cost when it clearly does me so much good.
Time with loved ones is incredibly precious
I moved to London last July, and I never thought I’d have time back with my family again. I’d thought that was it now, and I was a proper adult with all the freedom in the world. Then in March I moved home and we were all back together, which was lovely.
I tried to make the most of that time as I knew that once I moved out again, that bonus time probably wouldn’t happen again. It was lovely and it’s taught me to appreciate every bit of time I spend with loved ones, whether it’s family or friends.
Self care isn’t a one size fits all approach
Over the last few years, especially during my time at university, I had been trying to figure out my personalised approach to self-care. It was only this year, when I was forced to look after myself like never before, that I realised it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Self-care, to me, is all about the things I say to myself and the habits I try to keep up with.
As a little bit of insight, I find journalling really helps me, I try my best to voice my compliments when I think someone looks nice, and a cup of tea will solve anything.
Productivity does not equal success
I started lockdown by thinking I’d do eight courses a week, launch 12 businesses and read a new book every day. Slight exaggeration but I was definitely caught up in the productivity contest that I felt from social media.
It was only after I took my first course and went a bit full steam ahead with my blog that I realised productivity should be second to my wellbeing. I wasn’t going to pursue every idea I had or course I saw just to be content with how I’d spent my time. Doing those courses might have been something to do and made me feel better at the time, but it didn’t make me any more successful than if I hadn’t done them.
Gratitude can shift your mindset
Gratitude and thinking positively really can shift your mindset. Complimenting a friend’s nail colour or thinking how beautiful my surroundings were can help to create a positive mood for myself.
It became easy to think about all of the things I’d been missing in lockdown, or what opportunities I’d had taken away, but being grateful for what I did have really helped me.
A lot of people speak about how Instagram glamourises the smallest things and that it’s a highlight reel, but it has had a positive effect for me. Making me feel happy when I had a cup of coffee in my hand or being mindful of how lovely that one walk a day was in ‘deep lockdown’ (does everyone call it that?).
You won’t always love your situation
You’re not always going to be happy with things; be that your job, finances, friendships or whatever. I’ve taken two approaches to this this year; either stick it out and learn as much as you can from it, or do something about it to change it.
I often see quotes littered around the internet about if you don’t like something, trying to change it. But this year has shown me that sometimes not liking something and having to bear with it is a great way to learn something new about yourself or that situation.
Maybe unhappiness can teach us a different kind of resilience.
Happiness does come from within
Happiness really is something you can find within yourself, and not through seeking external things or validation. This year, most of us have had our typical lifestyle stripped back and are finding happiness and excitement in things we usually find quite mundane.
Some people have been content during the pandemic, happy even, and that goes to show that happiness is something we can make for ourselves. How else can some people be so content when the world is so chaotic and there isn’t the typical range of materialistic validation?
Happiness is the little things; it’s the way we talk to ourselves and the gratitude we have for everything in our lives.
Comparison gets me nowhere
Similar to the productivity content point, I started lockdown by comparing how well I was doing to other people. Someone on LinkedIn had done four more courses than I had? “I need to catch up and do better” I’d think.
But comparing myself to other people gets me nowhere and I should, instead, focus on my own path and desires. Did it matter if someone else was doing really well in their job, when in fact if I had that job I would hate it? Did I really want to do a course on a subject I had no passion for but it might look good on LinkedIn? I quickly realised the answer was no to both of those things.
Working during a pandemic is hard
Working during the pandemic has been really quite difficult. Especially when it’s your first year in the world of work and you were ready to ace it but instead have been dealt with Zoom calls and the fear of redundancy. My work have been really great with supporting everyone but even with the best tools and support in place, everyone has struggled at times.
It’s hard to be productive when you’re looking at the same four walls every day and don’t have your colleagues to bounce ideas off. The same thing goes with creativity, I’ve found it hard to have any creative flair when I haven’t been doing a whole lot, but it’s something everyone has had to deal with.
Getting to know myself is the most important thing
In my post about being kind to yourself, I mentioned how to rekindle the spark with yourself. This involved sitting down or laying in bed and closing your eyes, trying your best to not think about much or letting your mind wander. After a while, you might think about what it is you really want to do. Maybe it’s reading, baking, talking to your friends or family. For me, it always seemed to be writing – this blog really is my passion.
Learning more and more about yourself every day is a real positive. It can be as small as what your favourite food is, all the way through crafting your personal survival kit to get you through a global pandemic.
There are probably a lot more things I’ve learnt about myself this year, but making a start with ten has been a really nice activity. I might start a page in my bullet journal where I can note down all of the things I’ve realised in 2020.
So, what’s one thing you’ve realised this year?