As I sat down to write this morning, I thought of a pithy post on self-discovery in 2021. It wouldn’t have been a bad post, but I just didn’t want to write it. No, instead I wanted something with no headlines and headlines and all that blogging nonsense and instead just speak to you from the bottom of my heart.
2020 almost broke me. Even before the pandemic, it wasn’t a good start to be honest, and I found myself self-destructive on a familiar cycle of my life. Then the pandemic struck and things got worse.
This is not a “woe to me” post, however, and I have my health and life that hundreds of thousands of people around the world do not have. That is something. This means that despite the terrible way my own country has responded to this global crisis, some people did the right thing. By the time you are reading this you have had some degree of success.
But it’s also okay to think about what 2020 did to you without feeling guilty. The guilt of survivors is one thing, but 2020 has hit us all hard and while we are indeed healthy, that doesn’t mean everything is fine and there is a need to be honest.
Right at the start of this crisis, I wrote that mental health was going to be the real pandemic, and I was right. In fact, we have no idea how bad it was for people, and we honestly won’t do it for many years. From suicide and addiction to depression and anxiety, we have collective PTSD and it won’t go away anytime soon.
But just because millions of us lost our livelihoods and stole all of our plans doesn’t mean we have to wallow in desperate feelings. In fact, it is important for us to look into the future again in a way that we have not been able to lately.
What this means varies from person to person. For some, it means being called back to work while for others it means finding a new career when they least expected it. Some have to move and find new places to live, and parents around the world can’t cope with suddenly becoming teachers, at least not right away. However, what I have noticed is that one of the biggest causes of fear is literally not having anything to look forward to.
Weddings, vacations, graduations, even everyday running errands, all future plans since March have been discarded, and as it turns out, the human brain must have something – anything – on the horizon. We need to have future joys in mind, we need to make plans, and special occasions in the works. I think this, along with the health fears, has done more damage than any other aspect of this mess. So what to do
This is very individual, but for me it means that I have to plan trips. During the worst of the quarantine, I planned what I thought was my first “post-lockdown adventure”. They all had to be canceled, but it briefly filled me with hope and joy, no matter how fleeting.
After we had restricted freedom of movement again, I began to plan short regional road trips. Rather than sticking to travel plans, they actually came true and the simple joy of being away from home for a few days was greater than I could ever have imagined. I’ve flown to a few places across the country but haven’t had a big trip since 2019.
Each of us has to plan something to move forward. It can be a small party just for the members of your household, or it can be a quick (and responsible) trip to a place nearby that you have never been to. Go beyond that, do what I do and plan the first epic travel adventure when we are all vaccinated for the time when it is perfectly safe to travel anywhere in the world and we can have fun again.
It doesn’t even matter if you ever make this trip. The joy you will feel as you plan the adventure, decide where to go and what to experience is the simple release your brain needs right now as we near 2021. Each of us is a happier and happier one healthier person.
Thanks for reading. Stay safe, stay healthy and please take care of each other.