Lessons Learned From 2020

Brandi Adair


Photo by Evie Shaffer via Pexels

This has been the longest, shortest year EVER. And while I'm usually not one to go all out for New Years, you better believe I'm celebrating to the max this year (socially distanced at home, though). I can't wait to see 2020 in the metaphorical rear view of life. We all laughed, cried, and tried to do our best this year, given our unique circumstances. I don't consider 2020 an absolute wash. I believe my outlook on life has shifted for the better, and I experienced things I otherwise wouldn't have. I've rounded up some lessons I've learned this year, and I'm very thankful for learning them, no matter how hard it was learning them at the time.

1. Life is Fragile

As a woman in my mid-twenties, I didn't think about death much before 2020. Sure, I've experienced the death of relatives and loved ones, but they were older. When you're young, it seems that only older people die. I always knew I could die at any time, but this year it actually occurred to me how numbered our days actually are. Not to be morbid or cliché, but we truly have no idea when our last day on this earth is. With this in mind, I'm less afraid to speak my mind, more willing to take that next leap of faith, and less afraid of "failure" or what others would deem a failure. Seriously, tell that person you love them, tell them you're sorry, start that business, chase that dream, move to that place you've always dreamed of, and live your life because you might not have that chance tomorrow.

2. Things are Just Things

I've always had an incredible work ethic, and I've always liked nice things. Nothing is wrong with either. What's wrong is I was placing too much importance on things. I would save my money to buy the next latest and greatest fill in the blank. I'm honestly embarrassed to admit how much this consumed my thoughts. I thought that if I stopped liking, wanting, or even obsessing over nice things, I would lose my work ethic. Nothing is further from the truth. Thankfully, I haven't lost my work ethic, and I've even saved quite a bit more of my money because I'm not thinking about what I'm going to buy next. At the end of the day, things are just things, and you can't take them with you when you go. Work hard and treat yourself but don't make that your only goal.

3. Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

When a drunk driver hits a sober person, most times, the drunk driver experiences less trauma from the wreck, as unfair as it seems. This happens because the drunk person is more relaxed, and the sober person is tense and bracing for the impact. This metaphorically happens a lot in life too. If you're relaxed and going with the flow, change of plans, small inconveniences, etc., don't really jar you. It's easier to find another way, alter those plans, or not sweat the small stuff. Alternatively, if you're always stressed and so tense about everything going your way all the time, a small detour could potentially derail you to the point you can't even get back on track or find your way. It's not fun when plans get canceled, you miss out on an opportunity, or life decides to inconvenience you, but don't sweat the small stuff because, in the end, no one makes it out of life alive anyway.

4. You Can't Pour from an Empty Cup

There's a reason why flight attendants tell you if the oxygen masks deploy to put yours on first before helping others. That's because you can't help anyone if you've already passed out. I know I tend to put other's wants, needs, and feelings before my own. I think that's a prevalent trait among women and even some men. It always left me feeling stressed out, burnt out, and empty inside. It's impossible to make everyone happy! It's important to honor your feelings, your intuition, and put yourself first. You can't bring others joy when you have no joy inside to give. Putting yourself first in turn positions you better to serve others.

5. Don't Force It

One of my favorite sayings in life is "if it's meant to be, it will be." It brings me comfort knowing that everything in life that is for me is out there only waiting for me. I genuinely believe that. It brings me the most comfort when something doesn't work out the way I wanted. It just wasn't meant to be. All of my plans got canceled for 2020 (like most everyone's). I had three weddings to attend, several vacations planned, a trip to Miami Fashion Week in the works, and exciting work contracts drafted that all fell through. I have peace knowing that none of that was supposed to happen for me in 2020. I'm excited about what is ahead, and I am not bitter about "what I missed out on" because it wasn't supposed to happen that way, and I accept that. Life has a funny way of working itself out, so go ahead and make those plans but don't force plans, a friendship, relationship, a pair of jeans, nothing!

6. Take Care of Yourself - Not Just for Vanity

I have always said that working out is the only thing I do to look good that has positive side effects. It was half a joke and half the truth. I gained weight during quarantine because I could not keep up my rigorous gym schedule because it was closed (like everything else). After a couple of weeks, I gave up working out altogether. The social aspect was gone, and it was a lot harder to stay motivated at home. When I stopped working out, I realized I was eating more junk, had less energy, and didn't feel great about myself. I stopped mentally beating myself up for losing strength and gaining pounds, and I decided to focus on what was "fun" to me. That quickly turned into long neighborhood walk and resistance training videos on YouTube. It occupied part of my days of zero plans and gave me a rush of endorphins. My focus has shifted from looking good to feeling good, and it's a lot less pressure that way. Play tennis, walk the dog, or have a dance party not to make your butt look good but to make your whole body feel good.

I will always remember 2020 for the good, the bad, and the ugly. While the pandemic as a whole has been extremely misfortunate, I am grateful for the lessons I have learned. I am more focused on things that matter and feel more balance in my life. I know I wouldn't have learned these lessons had 2020 been a regular year. I feel blessed to have learned these lessons at such a young age that will shape how I view the rest of my life.


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Houston, TX

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