Normalizing 2020

Unpopular Opinion: Let's normalize discomfort.

Hear me out.

I think it's pretty safe to say that we are all happy that 2020 is behind us now. It was definitely a year to remember, and for most of us, we won't remember it fondly. You don't have to scroll much on the internet to find a meme about the Dumpster Fire that that was 2020. I remember watching the news in March and telling my husband that it felt like we were living in a dystopian novel.

When the pandemic hit, so much of our lives changed. We worked from home, the kids did virtual school, concerts were cancelled, theaters closed, sports seasons ended early, and we were told to isolate. It felt like the lives we had been working so hard to build for ourselves had been stripped from us.

In recent years, our society has put a lot of emphasis on finding ways to have inner peace. Uncomfortable emotions are often dealt with by ignoring them, or searching for ways to make them go away. Self-care has become a booming industry because we all want to find ways to rid ourselves of anxiety, stress, sadness, anger, jealousy, etc. Sensory deprivation tanks, day spas, gyms and nail salons are all places we think of when we think of self care. And... show of hands on how many of you now realize that Starbucks being open so you can drive through and pay $5 for a paper cup filled with your favorite beverage on your way to work was self care? (Disclosure: this was me. I had a melt down when I could not find a single place to drive through and buy coffee on my way to my essential job one morning.)

I'm going to fast-forward my thoughts a bit. In a previous post, I wrote about a friend of mine who has spent the last couple of years creating challenging goals for herself. She recently mentioned to me how much satisfaction she finds in being able to push past the discomfort of these goals and persevere. Then a few months later, another friend introduced me to an author that described self care in a way that was less about comfort and more about discipline. This theme kept spinning in my head about how uncomfortable this year was and how all we have wanted to do was escape it.

Discomfort challenges us to evaluate what we will and won't accept. If one of the things we accept is that it is ok to be uncomfortable, we could change our perspective and see that 2020 was a difficult year, yet we persevered. It could be perceived as the year that you learned which parts of life you find to be the most important, or it could be that your discomfort led you to an emotional awareness you've been missing.

Whatever the case, as the new year begins, I encourage you to lean in to the discomfort that 2020 brought and absorb what you have learned from it. Maybe none of us would ever choose to live 2020 all over again, but we can look back on it as the year discomfort made us better.

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