The year of 2020 will be described in various terms in history books. Unprecedented. Life-altering. Dumpster fire. Worst year. No matter the description, it’s been quite a year. As 2020 comes to an end, I reflect on all that’s happened. And I realize it’s been a year of clarity for me.
It was supposed to be ‘my year’
I welcomed this year with open arms. After clearing my third cancer last year and having to pause so many plans, I was ready to travel, bike, hike, camp, fall madly in love with Mr. Right (and he with me of course), spend oodles of time with family and friends, laugh and celebrate life.
And then a virus raced around the world, a terrifying unknown virus that spread through every part of society. Things were canceled or postponed. People got sick from the virus and many died. So many unknowns. It was scary, uncertain, frustrating. It still is. Although hope is on the horizon with COVID-19 vaccines.
At times it felt like last year blurred into this year as so many of the feelings and thoughts occurring in this year are eerily similar to my cancer journey.
Feelings of isolation
Concerns about my health, germs, side effects
Uncertainty about the future
Digging deep for strength to go on
Frustration or disappointment at others’ behavior (and reminding myself that I can’t control others’ behavior so should change expectations)
Impatient for life to go back to normal and then realizing that you’re facing a new normal.
I faced all of these things during cancer treatment just last year. And, as odd as it may sound, when others’ selfish and reckless actions and uncertainty around the virus threatened to increase my anxiety, I found myself focusing on my cancer journey. To ground me. And bring clarity because I cleared cancer three times. I got this.
And truthfully, as challenging as this year has been, including the difficulty of experiencing so many of these emotions again, I know it’s nothing compared to what it must be like to go through treatment during a pandemic. Treatments postponed, no family/friends during appointments, anxiety over asymptomatic people and more. And that’s just cancer. Think about all the other diseases and other issues affecting people around you. My heart breaks thinking of these people facing diseases, treatments, surgeries during this pandemic.
A year of clarity
Going through treatment last year often brought a sense of frustration and impatience at ‘pausing’ life (again) – canceling or postponing trips, limiting social interaction (concerns about germs), etc. But even though I felt like I pausing life, I was pretty busy with chemo, radiation, figuring out life after treatment (still working on that!). Then once I finished treatment, I hit the ground running and was on the go through the rest of last year.
So when the pandemic hit and we truly hit pause on travel, social interactions and more, it was different for me. I wasn’t distracted by treatment (thank GOD!). I could actually pause, reflect on life, plan and move forward.
And as much as I hear people refer to 2020 as a ‘dumpster fire’ or the worst year ever or a crap year, I start to agree, then hesitate. Because for all the challenging and frustrating moments, there were positive moments. And the greatest one is that I am healthy. Clear of cancer. My family is healthy and here. Not everyone can say that this year. Everything else that this year may have brought, I am still grateful.
So I instead look at 2020 as a year of clarity. The pause helped me re-evaluate this journey called life, from the people in my circle to my goals to relationships and more. This year of clarity showed me much about myself and others.
The ugly reveal
The veil pulled back to reveal, quite bluntly, ugly parts of our society. From selfishness to racism to arguing about the smallest issues, so much ugliness showed up this year. Fighting in person and on social media, refusal to wear masks or be part of the solution to stopping the virus, attacking our democracy and more negative actions.
The crack in our country’s politics and ideologies split into a great fissure. The shock of so many people still supporting a tyrant and attacks on our democracy admittedly rocked me to my core.
The most stunning was seeing and reading negative and shocking actions and behaviors from some friends, family and people in my social circle. These disappointed and hurt. But in the end, I’m glad to clearly see these characteristics so I can choose a different path. I have no patience or acceptance of these types of behavior. I choose love and kindness in my life. Always.
The beautiful balance
And in the midst of the ugliness, kindness, community, generosity and love also appeared. I hope these grow stronger and brighter in the months and years to come. I will do my part to fan the flames of positivity, love and democracy. While the ugly truths hurt to witness, it all also sparked a fire inside of me. Motivation to work harder and better at being part of positive change.
I was reminded how very fortunate I am – for my good health, career, home, family, medical insurance, healthcare options and so much more.
An unnecessary reminder, but a gentle one nonetheless, of how much my family and friends mean to me. Not seeing these special people as often, missing their laughs, hugs and shared adventures has been incredibly difficult. It makes me cherish these moments even more.
I will never take for granted again the value of a hug and physical touch. Snuggles from my nieces and nephew, holding hands with a date, tight hugs from another. All so magical.
Love is waiting for me and I’m ready to greet it. This year helped me reflect on past relationships and my marriage/divorce, and become very clear on the qualities I’m looking for in a significant other/partner. I’lll embrace that special man with open arms when the time is right.
I gained a lot of clarity in how I want to help others through their cancer journey and simply life. My life is certainly imperfect and a constant work in progress, but I love life. Grateful for each day. I feel a purpose. Things will take time, however, it starts with one step.
As this year comes to a close and the new year kicks off, I hope you:
-ask what else is possible?
-dwell on what is precious in your life and have gratitude for your blessings
-worry less about what you don’t have
-think of opportunities to be part of positive change in our communities
What is one positive thing that happened to you in 2020?
Share in the comments so we can end this year on a high note!