It was the year we never expected. We cried, we zoomed, we missed people, we fought boredom and inertia. We faced the personal challenges that would have been tough in any other year. This is what I learned from 2020…

I learned to value quiet AND noises

<span>Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@aleks_marinkovic?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Aleks Marinkovic</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/s/photos/mindfulness?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a></span>

At the beginning of lockdown (and all of last summer), I was so irritated by the new family next door. Not that I am such a monster that the sound of children playing offends me, but they are shriekers. The once peaceful solitude of our garden had been ruined forever.

After a few weeks, I found myself relaxing into it. I found I was able to enjoy the summer vibes created by 90’s rock radio drifting over the fence from another neighbour. When the shrieking stopped each evening, the silence seemed more blissful than ever. No traffic noise any more, just the breeze in the trees.

I learned to prioritise my own wellbeing

<span>Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@elleirva?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Avrielle Suleiman</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/s/photos/zoom-yoga?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a></span>

Despite the fact that I am not paid during my lunch hour (like most people), I have hardly ever felt comfortable taking a lunch hour. Most people I know in sales do the same as me, not just working longer than contracted hours, but also not taking a break.

Since lockdown began in March I have been scheduling yoga or dance classes two days per week. I have also gone for middle of the day walks…and…I don’t feel guilty about it! I have a way to go until this is 5-days-a-week habit, but it’s progress.

I learned that humans are incredibly adaptable

From home-working to home-schooling, to mask-wearing and obsessive sanitising and washing of…everything. I have been amazed by how quickly humanity adapted to the “new normal”. A lifestyle that would have been unthinkable 12 months ago has become “the way things are”, and we just get on with it. It hardly even seems odd to us.

I don’t have children myself but I have watched in awe as friends and family have juggled family, work, businesses, change, lockdowns, precautions and re-openings. All while pretty scared and in some cases wondering how they will carry on paying the bills.

But I also learned how truly selfish some people are

That some people have continued to socialise and wander around mask-less is abhorrent to me. My Dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer the day before Essex was put into a Tier 4 lockdown for Christmas. I haven’t seen my family face to face since August. The selfish refusal of some people to follow guidelines has put us all back in a national lockdown, and for some people, they don’t have the luxury of time.

So many more people have died or been forever changed because of the acts of these disgusting people. Thank goodness that the good in humanity outweighs the bad, and gives us hope.

I learned the importance of having time to yourself

Lockdown, has for the most part been a pleasant experience for my little family (boyfriend, doggo and I). Without the pressure of homeschooling and with the absolute blessing of work from home contracts, we have been extremely fortunate.

But I miss going for a wander around the shops, or taking a trip into central London for a dance class or to meet a friend for a glass of wine. I miss having a spa weekend or an evening to myself while he plays football or visits friends. Alone-time is good for us, it allows us to reset, be alone with our thoughts and figure things out.

I learned to find the positives in the worst situations

<span>Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@cristian1?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Cristian Escobar</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/s/photos/find-positives?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a></span>

Throughout this pandemic I have found myself counting my blessing daily. These have become more of a reach as time has gone on, and include but are not limited to:

  • Having a house and a garden to be confined to
  • Living opposite miles of fields
  • Being able to work normally
  • Speaking to friends and family on Zoom, this actually has been with more frequency than I ever would have spoken to them before lockdown
  • My brother living opposite my parents, both in their 70’s, and being able to support them
  • Sheffield having a dedicated cancer hospital so my Dad’s treatment is not affected by COVID

Finally I learned that life, and everything in it, is now

<span>Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@trapnation?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Andre Benz</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/s/photos/now?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a></span>

I spent the first part of the year talking about “after lockdown”. But then as weeks turned to months turned to a year I realised that I was grieving for the time I was losing, and even more so now my Dad is sick.

So I started planning things with gusto, online, and outside (as far as I can). I made resolutions with a determination I have never had before. I started to look for courses, business opportunities and chances to interact with friends and family more.

Your life is now, this is not a pause, it still counts for a year of your life. A year where you can change and achieve things, a year you will never get back and a year you will regret losing if you haven’t done your best in the circumstances.


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