In my line of work, it is incumbent upon me to be publicly positive. I also have an instinct to go against the common zeitgeist. If everyone is saying it, I am inclined to say the opposite.
So, when everyone is saying that 2020 is terrible, I am inclined to say it’s not.
A year of disruption and opportunity and all the rest.
For some people, this message is inspiring and hopeful.
For others, it is decidedly not.
One friend of mine in a recent post said that she felt that the hopeful sentiments of the New Year seemed like gaslighting. Being told that everything will be better in 2021, when the actual facts will not change, is not inspiring. It is depressing. It is dismissive. It is insulting.
And I, like an asshole, commented with a link to my article about how the magic of 2021 is in our own hands.
She didn’t want to hear about the power of our own agency, and I was tone deaf in sharing that sentiment there.
We all deal with challenge and adversity in our own way. Some of us deal with with by denying it. We see it and deal with it by building a plan of action. That is how we cope with it.
For others, they need time to process, to accept, even to mourn.
People have lost loved ones. They have lost opportunities. Even those who are financially stable and not directly affected have had their lives profoundly disrupted. They cannot see family and friends. Social networks are disrupted. Patterns of life are thrown into chaos.
Those of us who are all about motivation and action need to recognize that there is a place for mourning. There is a place for reflection.
There is a time and a place for motivation, but there is also a time and a place for being sad. There is a time to say “this sucks and I don’t like it.”
Not everything has to be an exciting new experience.
Not everything has to be recast as an amazing new opportunity.
Sometimes it’s just bad. And that’s okay.
2020 has really sucked for a lot of people.
Some people have dealt with it by making action plans and vision boards, and that’s okay.
Some people have dealt with it by binge watching 1,000 hours of Netflix, and that’s okay, too.
Those people who are full of action and optimism may also be suffering. They may be crying where you can’t see it. They may also be staying busy so they don’t have to face what they have lost.
And those who seem to be giving up and shutting down, may well get up one day, take off the comfy socks, put on their work clothes, and kick ass like never before.
2020 has not been a bowl of cherries for me. There have been shocking ups and downs. I personally have a bias for action, not because I’m some kind of super entrepreneur, but because I am prone to depression. Inaction could literally kill me. If I don’t have some vision on the horizon, the danger of giving up could be so catastrophic that I might never return from it.
My personal age of suckitude began in 2018, and some of the changes of 2020 actually served to relieve some of the loneliness I had faced for two years. My own, very unique, experience of 2020 causes me to encounter the challenges of this year in a very different way.
I believe some of the conflict between those who want to find the opportunity and those who want space to process comes from the depth of emotional need on both sides. It’s not simply a disagreement on how to handle things. It’s a situation where the two mindsets can actually cause pain when they interact.
My patina of positivity is what keeps me afloat and out of a void of depression. The mere idea that people should take time to mourn and release the tension is terrifying. Of course, no one is suggesting I should give up on hope, but it can feel like a slippery slope towards that when blind optimism is all that is between myself and depression.
Those who need the space to process and to put down grand plans for a moment feel like they are being forced to march past exhaustion, and I readily admit that some of my messaging has contributed to that.
Both perceptions are very real, and both must be accepted and embraced. Everyone is fighting their own battle and carrying their own demons. Only by approaching everyone we meet in a spirit of love, can we begin to aid rather than harm those around us.
2020 has been a year of crisis, disruption, pain, and loss.
We all deal with these things in our own way, and we must recognize and accept that everyone’s way is okay.
More specifically, I must recognize and accept it.