Photo by Caique Silva
One day we’ll be looking back at 2020 wondering: how the HELL did we get through all that?! Hard times can feel impossible and never-ending when you’re in them, then eventually become a vague memory, a conundrum formed from your survival of a seemingly unsurvivable moment. The best thing we can do with a year like 2020 is learn from it, document how we got through it so that the next challenge we’re faced with doesn’t feel as insurmountable. So in that spirit, I asked the Un-ruly team how they got through this year. Here are our responses.
Grace, gratitude and patience
How did I survive 2020? Honestly, it wasn’t that bad for me and for that I’m grateful. This year taught me grace, gratitude and patience. November 2019 my husband and I left the United States, moved to Italy and thought we were on the verge of a new adventure. WRONG. After finally finding a house and getting all of our furniture, the country and the world shut down two weeks later. I’m not kidding. We went from wine soaked nights at wonderful Italian restaurants to not being able to leave our house without papers. No restaurants were open; there was no takeout or delivery; it was just me, my husband and our kitchen.
When I look back at the year I smile knowing it could’ve been way worse. I’m happy; I’m healthy; my family is healthy…
We’ve been through a few different iterations of lockdown since but dreams of country-hopping and returning to the US for the holidays have been put on hold indefinitely. It’s been a full year since I’ve seen my mom and dad, tasted Chick-fil-A or been anywhere where English is spoken fluently. At first I thought it was fun, but honestly I miss my parents more than I ever thought I would. I will say having my husband with me through this has probably been my only saving grace. We’ve tried new recipes, ordered way too much on Amazon, and binged watched all of Netflix. When I look back at the year I smile knowing it could’ve been way worse. I’m happy; I’m healthy; my family is healthy and I don’t have to worry about my or my husband’s jobs unlike some, and for that I am so grateful. 2020 has been really rough for many people. Too many have gotten sick. Too many have died. I’m ready for Ms. Rona to leave. I’m ready to hug my parents and go to Target. But in the grand scheme of things, I’ll take what I got this year. I know I’m one of the lucky ones.
Filtering out the chaos of the world
2020 was a doozy! There were so many blows, gut punches, disappointments and what seemed like insurmountable challenges. A literal rollercoaster. With everything going on, the most important thing I did, without even making a conscious effort, was to separate what was going on in the world at large (pandemic, BLM, the election, natural disasters) with what was happening on a personal level. My brain could literally only take so much at one time, so I developed a filter.
I often felt that I was living in the twilight zone, where up was down, or widely held facts were now somehow fiction (or fake news) so I also had to reground myself in what I know to be true. Or at least what is true to me. This may sound strange, but doing little “science is all around us” experiments really helped. For example, throwing something up in the air and watching it fall down with equal force to the ground (what goes up, must come down) really helped get me out of the parallel universe a certain someone was trying to create.
Throwing something up in the air and watching it fall down with equal force to the ground… really helped get me out of the parallel universe a certain someone was trying to create.
Being decidedly present and hyper-aware of how much worse things can be was also critical to my survival this year. I always remind myself that life will always be a mixed bag and can come at you fast, which was true for me in 2020. So much so, that I coined the phrase, “being on the right side of trouble” because things really could be a lot worse than you have it.
Lastly, music is one heck of a healer and I leaned heavily on my favorites this year: Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Dean Martin. Music takes me to a completely different planet and really does something to us on a cellular level. Here’s all the proof you need.
Developing tenacity through grace
I’m a huge advocate of looking for the full circle moments in life. Being able to point at a time in your past and remember who you used to be is really grounding in the sense that you become aware of how time is passing, the experiences that come with it, and where you are at now. It’s also a great reminder that you don’t need to be as tough on yourself as you might think. Offering myself grace is perhaps the key to developing my tenacity, and I think it’s something that’s really saved me this year.
Growing resilient stems from recognizing that you’ve succeeded in getting through every single day so far.
In moments of feeling frenzied, I don’t want to shy away from the pressure, but instead recognize that if I’ve gotten through one challenge, I can get through the next challenge, and so on. We can accept that this curious sensation of life will forever be tumultuous, but growing resilient stems from recognizing that you’ve succeeded in getting through every single day so far! What more do you need to believe in yourself?
Loved ones, therapy and self-care
This year was an emotional gauntlet for me. It started out, okay. Sure, there was a pandemic and half our business came to a grinding halt but at least me and my loved ones had our lives and health. The pandemic would be temporary, like everything else in life.
Emotions come in waves. And even though they might feel unbearable at any given moment, there’ll be a denouement and the feeling won’t last forever or even for an hour.
Then the second half of 2020 happened and I literally felt like the universe was trying to snuff. me. out. Blow after blow, I got hit with challenges too personal to share here, but they put me in emotional territory I’d never been in before. I was usually so strong and for the first time in my life I felt so emotionally fragile and paralyzed. It all feels a bit like a dream now but in the moment it was hard. Yet I got through it by doing the following:
- I emoted. I was in a lot of pain and I didn’t avoid it, no matter how bad it felt. With the help of a therapist I learned that emotions come in waves. And even though they might feel unbearable at any given moment, there’ll be a denouement and the feeling won’t last forever or even for an hour.
- Speaking of therapy, I started seeing one for the first time.
- I built a new morning routine to bring in a sense of stability.
- I surrounded myself with friends and family IRL and online.
- I journaled.
- I ate.
- I drank water.
- I moved my body–exercised and got out.
- I recited what I was grateful for, despite everything going on.
- I watched TV, because sometimes all you can do is distract yourself.
They say pain is sign of life. If that’s the case, I’ve lived a lot this year and I’m still standing.
How did you get through 2020? Add to this blueprint by telling us in the comments.