I had an epiphany in the last week. With calendar pages swiftly falling away and time pacing towards the end of the year, it is all to easy to reflect on the year we’ve had and perhaps feel slightly upset that it didn’t deliver us from the evil that was the 2020 pandemic. After all, I have friends who are tumbling into depression, friends who’ve lost their significant other, or loved ones, or jobs, friends desperate to progress to the next step of the career or property ladder. On the other hand, I’ve also got friends who’ve just got their dream job after months of unemployment or held their new-born this year after years of struggling to conceive, friends closing on their new homes or embarking on a new relationship.
I’ve read somewhere years ago unhappiness is often the result of the difference between our expectations for what should have been versus the reality of what it is. We start every year with such humongous expectations for our futures – any year would crumble under the weight, let alone 2021, not exactly the year of the pandemic but a close second.
I don’t mean to preach one should keep expectations low, but my epiphany is that, if all you did this year was to survive a pandemic then consider yourself successful. Whatever lofty dreams we may have had at the beginning of the year, it was obvious that it wouldn’t be an easy ride. From losing jobs to working online, from cancelling holidays to home-schooling kids, from virtual funerals to wedding cancellations, we experienced so much in the last 20 months, and most are still battling the aftershocks. A friend lost her husband last year; another’s had a stroke, another friend survived breast cancer – all the while in the grip of a worldwide pandemic. Diagnoses and treatments got delayed, children fell behind, and businesses shut down.
I recall a quote, which was making the rounds on social media, “2020 is the year that taught us to be thankful what we have instead of wishing for what we don’t.”
Upset you can’t afford a bigger house? Be thankful you have a roof over your head. Can’t progress to the next level in your career? At least you have a job. Struggling to start a family? Your spouse is still in good health. Ringing in 2021, I wished for a year that would give us more to be thankful for. This doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally look back and wonder if I have achieved the milestones I had in mind for this year in the game of life we are all playing. Could I have done more? Possibly. Are the Joneses a few steps ahead as always? Most probably. Then I remind myself, if all I have done was to survive a pandemic, that’s good enough.