2020: Did You Survive or Thrive? (*spoiler – either answer is totally valid)

I’m laughing as I look back at my post from January 4, 2020. I wrote, “I’m really optimistic about 2020 – I think big things are going to happen for me. I have no proof of this, just a feeling.”

Well big things certainly did happen for all of us!

Despite 2020 being a year that none of us could have predicted, I don’t look back on it with disdain. 2020 was different for sure, and not what I expected, but it still brought me a lot of good. (P.S. It’s okay if this is not how you feel! It’s okay if you never want to hear the word 2020 again!)

My focus word for 2020 was “thrive.” I just wanted to feel good about myself, and to make more time for things like exercising, eating healthy and spiritual growth. Amazingly, by the end of the year I find myself doing exactly those things – I’ve been jogging again and even lifting some weights at home (I joke with Dean that he better watch out since I’m getting so muscle-y). Around mid-August I started being more purposeful about the food I was eating (less sugar, more veggies). And with some encouragement from friends (or perhaps more accurately, accountability) I have made more time to pray and meditate and do feel like I’ve grown spiritually this year.

I know not everyone is able to express positive feelings about 2020, and that’s okay. I’ve seen many iterations of the following, but as the image states, it’s okay if all you did this year was survive.

For some people, 2020 was a really good year – and for others it may literally have been the worst year of their life. I think both experiences are valid and true. We are all unique in our struggles, successes, and life journeys. It’s good to remember that our experiences are just that: our own, not everyone else’s.

I also think it’s important to remember that whether you survived or thrived this year, it was probably due to many circumstances outside of your control.

Did you lose your job this year? Did you or your family battle illness of any kind this year? Did someone you love pass away this year? Did you experience greater anxiety or mental health struggles this year? If you answered yes to one or more of those questions, I can totally understand why this year the goal was just to survive. Don’t feel guilty for not “doing” more – you made it to the end of the year, and that is enough.

What about those people who feel they thrived? Can they take credit for that? Maybe… but I’ll just say for myself, I feel like I was able to thrive because of many things outside of my control: I still have a job that pays me – I have a good emotional support system – I did not catch COVID or deal with any serious illness – I have friends who encouraged and motivated me to work towards my goals – I have an amazing therapist and have the finances available to meet with her frequently as needed…

I think when things go well in our lives, we want to take credit for them – we naturally want to feel in control of our lives. (I certainly do!) And of course we want to feel proud of ourselves. I don’t want to minimize your achievements this year if you did something really great – but I do want you to take time to consider that maybe your achievements had less to do with you, and more with the fortunate circumstances you found yourself in that allowed you to flourish and thrive. How many more of us would have thrived this year if we all had stable finances? How many more of us would have thrived this year if we all had access to the healthcare we needed? Or if we all had supportive and nurturing relationships?

I hope 2021 allows more of us to feel like we thrived. I hope we will give more people the benefit of the doubt, and believe they are doing the best they can with what they have. I hope we will be humble and grateful when things go well in our lives and when we find success and happiness. And I hope we will have empathy for those who have different experiences from ourselves.

Here’s to 2021! Thanks for reading!

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