Think back to the final days of 2019, when all around us, we heard chatter about the "roaring 20s" and the great prospects for the year ahead - 2020. Anyone I spoke to was looking forward to "the turn of the decade"... "the year that would give us 2020 vision". Take a moment to reflect on the expectation YOU had for 2020. Consider all the things you had hoped would happen... the resolutions you set and the goals you had.
Maybe you planned the biggest trip of your life, or maybe a move cross-country. Maybe you planned to go to the gym more regularly, or take family outings more often. Were you looking forward to walking the stage at graduation, or planning your dream wedding? Maybe you looked forward to delivering your baby surrounded by your closest friends and family. Whatever your expectations were for 2020, I bet they were met with some amount of disappointment. But pause for a moment and ask yourself... why?
Expectations usually come from misguided certainty; and those expectations nearly always lead us to some amount of disappointment. Few things are certain in life, and this is why forming expectations can be detrimental to our mental health. We set expectations that are often unrealistic and based on factors outside of our control. If things fair favorably for us, we are happy for some amount of time. If they do not go as planned however, we wind up feeling disappointment and maybe tons of other emotions. This year has been a [long] lesson on the "expectations trap"!
We simply can not control so much of what happens around us. This is a scary realization for many people. With all of the loss, pain, and uncertainty brought about this year, many people have come to terms with this reality. We make plans and set goals for uncertain futures. This obsession with short-term planning is part of the human condition. Doing this, takes us out of the present. It is this very mentality that causes unnecessary panic buying of things such as toilet paper and hand sanitizer. We fixate on what is to come, and we lose the present moment. We stress and obsess, and find ourselves anxious about the moments that may or may not be ahead of us. Where does this really get you?
2020 was undeniably, the year that gave us clarity. Yes, it is also the year that shook us to our core. We have endured loss and pain on both a macro and micro level. We have experienced a range of emotions, and faced some of our biggest disappointments; and we are different for all of it. How have you changed this year? What has been changed forever in your life? What has changed about your perspective on life and how you live it? With pain, comes change. With every ending, comes a new beginning. Let us welcome 2021 as the year of new beginnings, the year of lessons learned, and the year or living for today.
**Written in memory of the many wonderful people lost to the COVID-19 pandemic. Your legacy has left an indelible mark on the lives of the people you have loved. We will carry your memory on forever in our hearts.**