As this year comes to an end, I wanted to reflect on and share with you all that this year has taught me. We can all agree that 2020 has been a year like no other that we will look back on and surely not forget. But despite the obvious reasons why, this year, in particular, I have experienced, embraced and learned many things that I know will impact how I carry out the new year and each day and moment within it that is yet to come, and I’m sure you have too. Here are the 5 lessons that 2020 has taught me.
1. Don’t Hesitate.
Earlier this year, I came to learn of the passing of someone who was like a second mom to me. Although I didn’t get to see her in the months prior as I had wanted to, I knew that I already held so many great memories with her that I would never forget. What I learned from this and all throughout this year as it unfolded, was that we shouldn’t hesitate; to tell the people in our lives how much they mean to us, to make the time to connect with someone we care about, or even to do something we’ve always wanted to for ourselves. While this year has made it harder for us to see and connect with some of our loved ones and friends, in person, as much as we would like to or used to, there are still so many ways we can express our love and appreciation to someone in our life, or even to give to someone in need. Something I took up doing this year was mailing hand-written letters to friends to express my appreciation for them. Maybe you might consider donating towards an organization that is doing great work in the community or supporting a local business. Maybe you take the time to do something for yourself. Whatever it is, don’t hesitate to do it.
2. Embrace Opportunities.
“Change is necessary. It is important, and it is also what makes life exciting. When we embrace change, we open ourselves to the understanding that anything is possible. Life is not supposed to stay the same. We are not supposed to stay the same. Our life, our communities, our world, are always in bloom. When we understand this, we see that change is growth; and growth is essential for each of us to reach our individual and collective potential.”– Cleo Wade
This school year, I have been working with senior kindergarten after some time working with preschool students. At the time, SK was an age group I had little experience working with. The only experience I had working with SK students was through volunteer work and a placement opportunity in JK/SK classrooms. Despite all of this, an opportunity for change and growth had been presented to me. Oftentimes, the fear of change can hold us back from embracing and accepting new opportunities and experiences. We may fear that we may not be good enough, capable, or are just used to and comfortable with staying within our comfort zone. However, this can limit us from growing in personal and/or professional roles, learning new things, developing greater skills and capacities or even meeting new people. While opportunities for growth in my professional role began prior to this year, I am truly grateful for all of them. They have given me the confidence to continue trying new things and remind me to embrace change and new opportunities. I have had great achievements as a result, and that is something I’ll always be proud of. What opportunities have you embraced this year or are ready to for the new year?
3. Be Vulnerable.
This year, one of the ways I have stepped outside of my comfort zone has been with creating and sharing the contents of this website. I realized that I could write as many great articles as I wanted to, but it wouldn’t matter if I wasn’t promoting and sharing them with others and writing content that would be meaningful and relatable. The most vulnerable article I wrote was one where I shared my experience being in lockdown. In deciding to write that article, I knew I wanted to do more than just share my experience. While it’s a longer read than most of the articles I have written, it was important for me to share the tools that enabled me to notice what I was going through, how I was able to overcome it, along with tips and strategies. It turned out to be one of my most viewed and favourite articles to write. If you haven’t already, check it out: How I Got Through Some of My Lowest Days in Lockdown.
4. Process Over Outcome.
Towards the end of last year, I was highly encouraged to apply to a master’s program. I still remember being told how it would open doors for me. I knew that it could, and the thought of that was always very appealing to me. Prior to that conversation, I knew that my passion for the field would be the reason why I’d go on to get a master’s degree. I had also been motivated to do so by other mentors along the way. It was something that was on my mind leading up to completing a bachelor’s degree in child development at the end of 2016. So, with that push of encouragement and support, I spent the first half of January getting my documents together and writing my letter of interest which was reviewed, edited countless times, and perfected. Whenever I read that letter, I am reminded that choosing not to immediately continue my studies after completing my degree left a lot of opportunity for me to grow personally and professionally. All of my experiences and growth in that 3-year timeframe (2017-2020) was the reason why I felt prepared for the program. In April, I was accepted to the Master of Arts in Early Childhood Studies program at Ryerson University. However, for various reasons, I decided to withdraw from the program days before even starting. It wasn’t an easy decision to make and I felt like I would be letting others down more than myself. I continue to wonder if my motivation to obtain a master’s was more about the outcome (the doors that would open for me and having the MA title), than the process (the experiences, learning, growth and character development I would have gained over the course of the program). Maybe now just wasn’t the right time, or there were other programs that I would have been more interested in pursuing and I had settled. Whatever the true reasons may be why I withdrew from the program, I’ve come to realize that for me, the process is more valuable than the final outcome, and I wanted to be sure that I could give my 100% towards it and embrace all of the opportunities that would have presented themselves along the way. But I didn’t feel I would have been able to. At least not now. Therefore, withdrawing from the program, I believe, was the better decision for me to have made, and I couldn’t have done it without my family, who continuously support me through all of the hard decisions I’ve had to make. I am endlessly grateful and blessed to have them. What hard decisions have you had to make this year?
5. Be Present.
“Being present is the only way to live a truly rich and full life.”– Jay Shetty
I’m sure many could agree that this year has forced them to slow down, even if just for a little bit. While I don’t feel as though I needed to be forced to slow down in any way, I do feel that there was room for me to become more present to my day-to-day moments, experiences, and interactions with others. I got so used to the grind of waking up to be at work for 7:30 am and going about my usual day, up until lockdown in March when I had to work from home. The pace of my days naturally slowed down, and the extra time in the mornings and evenings which were consumed by commuting, I had for other things, such as reflection. This was when I began getting more seriously into yoga and meditation and understanding the science behind it. Turning inward and better understanding myself, allowed me to become more outwardly present to everything happening around me. This included being better at noticing anything in my external environment that may have been impacting me and what I could or needed to do to change it, as well as recognizing how I could be more present in each moment and to my relationships. Whether it’s washing the dishes, folding laundry, or talking with a friend, being present in these small moments has allowed me to have greater appreciation for the big ones. I get to wake up each morning feeling what I have found to be a rich and fulfilling life. Remember that each day is truly a blessing, so be present to every moment of it.
What lessons has 2020 taught you?
“If there’s anything 2020 has shown us, it’s that we desperately need more. More compassion. More peace. More love. More time. More togetherness.” – Ainsley Arment
Cheers to the new year and all that is to come for you in 2021!
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