In Spite of Everything, I’m Ending 2020 Feeling Very Lucky

30 Dec
Sunset over Chestnut Hill Reservoir

By nearly every measure, 2020 was not a good year. The reasons — many of them stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, the contentious election (and politics just in general), and the multiple cases of racial injustice — have been well documented, so I don’t need to spend a lot of time rehashing them here. We’ve all lived through this year, and we know how bad it was.

But, while the pandemic may have taken a lot from us, including plans, people, and the passage of time, it did not take away perspective. In fact, the darkness of this year only made the light shine brighter.

To that end, there were also plenty of good or fun things that happened, and things that were worth smiling about. These things should be remembered, too. We should be grateful for all the doctors and healthcare workers, the public health officials, the teachers, the supermarket employees, and many other “essential workers” who went above and beyond to keep us safe, healthy, well fed, educated, stocked, and supplied this year. And of course, we should applaud the millions of people around the world who rightfully took to the streets to affirm that Black lives do, in fact, matter, and to demand that others said the same and acted accordingly.

To be clear, I’d never say I had a good year in 2020. I spent much of it alone in my small apartment, I was often confused or angry or frustrated (or all three), I lost my job over the summer, I couldn’t travel or go to the movies or experience concerts or do other in-person things I enjoy, and there’s been a nagging sense that life is passing me by while I social distance. As the Lone Bellow sang in their song “Dust Settles,” “I’ve been missing from the land of the living.” 

And yet, amazingly, in spite of everything, I actually found something to be happy about every single day this year. That’s just one reason why I’m ending 2020 feeling incredibly lucky.

There are plenty of other reasons. For example, I’m lucky because I’ve managed to stay healthy in the middle of a global pandemic. That’s partly because I have the kind of career that allows me to work from home, and because I live in a city and state where people generally take the virus seriously. I’m lucky that I’ve had affordable health insurance when I needed it, and that I was able to be tested multiple times this year, and get my (negative) results a day later each time. I know many, many people have not been so lucky, health-wise — including some friends of mine — and who knows what the future will bring. But speaking personally, so far, I have been very lucky.

On a related note, I’m lucky that everyone in my immediate family has stayed safe, and that none of us have been infected these last 10 months. It hasn’t always been easy, and it’s taken some adjustments, but my parents in Florida have been smart and careful, and I am so grateful for that. My family hasn’t celebrated any holidays together, but we were able to celebrate my niece’s bat mitzvah in November, in person, and my parents flew to New York to be there. We all wore masks and followed other safety measures, but given how the virus spreads, the fact that no one got sick after that event was lucky.

Speaking of family, this year has reminded me again that I am so lucky to have my sister and brother-in-law in my life. In the early days of the pandemic, my sister and I started FaceTiming every night, and all these months later, we still do it six nights a week — a frequency we never could maintain in the Before Times. This has also allowed me to see and speak with my niece and nephews more often than I typically would have. Among other things, my brother-in-law (a pediatrician) made sure I had enough face masks when they were in short supply back in March and April, he’s gone above and beyond (as usual) to keep everyone in his house safe, and he’s reached out to me multiple times to make sure I was alright. This year, my sister and my brother-in-law have looked out for me, met me (halfway) in Connecticut multiple times for hikes and delicious donuts, insisted I join them on a much needed family vacation in August on the Jersey Shore, and have provided advice and support and encouragement — and plenty of laughs. I don’t say it or show it nearly as much as I should, but I really am so lucky to have them in my life.

I’m also lucky to have such great friends, and to be part of a great community of people. I may be cavalier about how it feels to be on my own right now, but it’s not always easy. So I have greatly appreciated those who’ve been there for me this year, whether it’s to share meals via FaceTime, to go on walks, to just check-in and chat, or to hang out offline at a safe social distance. Some of my friends have cooked for me on holidays, or invited me for (outdoor) meals or to watch Little League games, and all of this has been much appreciated. And I’m lucky that technologies like Zoom exist, because this year they’ve enabled regular video calls with college friends and a 30-year virtual reunion with friends I traveled with when I was 16. I may have been alone for much of the last 10 months, but for these reasons and others, I’m lucky because my friends have ensured I wasn’t lonely.

As mentioned, I lost my job over the summer, and that wasn’t fun. (Though, to be honest, it was a relief when it happened.) But ultimately, by year’s end, and after just four months of freelancing and contracting for multiple clients, I found a new full-time job that I’ll be starting on January 4. None of this would have happened without the relationships I’ve built over the years with friends, industry colleagues, and former coworkers. Almost instantly after I shared on social media that I was unemployed, I had people reaching out with opportunities — so many that I was able to say no to a handful of them, or to pass them along to other folks in need — and other offers to help. Those opportunities that went the farthest (whether with actual work, or just interviews) were almost always because of a personal connection. In fact, at my new job, I’ll be working for and with a friend from college. And yes, I’m confident about my skills, experience, and expertise. But I know it’s because of the relationships I’ve built over the years that I was able to rebound so quickly. And for those, I am tremendously lucky.

I’m lucky in other ways, too, but by now, I think you get the idea, so I don’t want to belabor the point. Many other people have not been as lucky as I’ve been this year, and I’m conscious of that. But apparently, it’s good to share good things right now, and I’ve been told not to be ashamed

I know things aren’t going to instantly become better once the calendar changes and it becomes 2021. We still have a few hard months ahead of us until enough people have received the vaccine so there’s herd immunity and we can get back to some degree of normal. More people will die, more will lose their jobs, and there’s still a lot of political fallout to clean up.

Hopefully, whatever 2021 has planned for me is good. But if not, I’m feeling more prepared to deal with it than I was to deal with all that 2020 threw at me. 

As always, perspective helps.

As the sun sets on 2020, it feels literally and figuratively like the dawn of a new day. I’m ready to greet it.

Happy New Year!

3 Responses to “In Spite of Everything, I’m Ending 2020 Feeling Very Lucky”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. What I Want to Do in 2021 | Martin's Musings - January 1, 2021

    […] that hope comes reason to be optimistic that 2021 won’t be like 2020, and that, by some time this coming summer, we’ll be back to some degree of normal. Even Dr. […]

  2. The 2021 Happiness Project | Martin's Musings - January 4, 2021

    […] will be a good year — or, at the very least, that it will be a better year than 2020 was. Who knows what will actually happen over these 12 months, especially given the pandemic and […]

  3. A Year Later … I’m Grateful, Not Fearful | Martin's Musings - April 9, 2021

    […] And I know I’ve had things easier than many other people did. So I consider myself very lucky. […]

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