Or 67.21% of the year. That’s how long it’s taken me to figure it out.
And here we are. New Year’s Eve 2020 and I’ve finally made it. The lemonade that is.
This year I’ve searched high and low looking for fulfilment. Looking for reasons to stay positive, power through and make the best of a bad situation. Looking for ways to steady the turbulence and start again.
The idea of wasted time really scares me. And making good use of the time that we all have, has never meant more than it has this year. We’ve all learnt that life is short, feelings are temporary, and endings can be as abrupt as fresh starts.
2020 has not been a waste. It’s not been a write off. I don’t want to wake up tomorrow, in a brand-new year, and pretend as if the last didn’t happen. There is no growth in ignorance. If anything, 2020 will be the year etched in my memory as the benchmark from which to compare all future years.
The benchmark for weirdness, for shit hitting the fan, for government incompetency, for shoddy journalism, for conspiracy theories, and even for my suntan (eight weeks of unemployment and a national lockdown during the hottest May on record will do that to you).
I pride myself on my positive outlook. On my ability to see situations from all angles and not get easily bogged down by negativity. But this year has truly tested that.
When I was laid off in March, the week Boris announced the first national lockdown, I cried for days. Maybe even a whole week. It didn’t feel fair and I couldn’t understand why it had happened to me. Not only did my job feel dangerously unstable, the lockdown had also forced me and my boyfriend apart, unable to see each other for weeks on end. I quickly felt like my world was crumbling down around me and I didn’t know how to pull myself together. Little did I know, it would get a lot worse before it got better.
A couple of weeks later, once lockdown was in full swing, I lost my job completely. Via email. Not even a courtesy phone call to cushion the blow. But… I didn’t cry for as long this time, instead I realised I was better than that. That I didn’t deserve to be treated this way and the situation didn’t deserve my tears. I sure as hell wasn’t going to mourn my swift departure from a dead-end job. That would be a waste of time.
This was an opportunity. A chance to better myself. To pick myself up and dust myself off. My family stood on the side-lines, cheering me on every step of the way with my sister’s sassy reminder to me that Lisa Kudrow lost her first job and went onto be Phoebe in Friends. Six weeks later, I did it!
Looking on the bright side has never failed me. And this year has been no exception. As I write this, I am nearly seven months into my new, better job and I feel like I’m thriving. Hindsight is a funny thing and although it was dressed as a kick in the teeth at the time, losing my job was actually a blessing. And a lesson.
A lesson that tough times are temporary. As quickly as they come crashing in, making you feel like you’ve completely lost control of your own life, they also ease, and you soon realise that your foot was hovering over the break pedal the entire time. All you needed was the courage to take that next step.
2020 has taken tough times to a whole new level and we’ve all struggled. When you’re in the throws of hardship, loss, grief, its almost impossible to see through the fog, but when it does clear (and I promise you, it always does), take a second to look over the last year in a different light.
Look for the wins, the laughs, the sunshine. They might have been hidden away, but they were definitely in there. And probably, in more moments than you realised at the time.
And that's what you must remember to do when life gives you lemons. That’s how you make the lemonade. By looking for the sweet moments of joy, even in the toughest of times.
The reality is, for me, the tough times made up the tiniest part of my 2020. My lasting memory of this year won’t be the loss of my job and the tears that came with it, it will be the hours spent in the garden soaking up with evening sun with my family, drinking wine and laughing our way through lockdown. It will be the gorgeous, happy baby Anna born into my family in March. It will be all the books I read after years of complaining I didn’t have enough time. It will be passing my driving test first time. It will be going to the last pre-lockdown Arsenal home game with my Dad. It will be my very boozy Christmas and very hungover boxing day.
2020 has not been a waste. I wouldn’t want to relive it in a hurry that’s for sure, but there’s definitely moments in there that I’ll look back on in fondness.
And you know what, if you’re not there yet, that's okay. It's been a ride, and if you’re well and truly ready to see the back of this year, that really is okay. But promise me this... you'll remember that your tough times are only temporary, they won't last forever and there will come a day (it might even be sooner than you think), when you’ll start to feel like you again. And when that day comes, you'll not only look for the light, you'll be the light.
Sending thoughts of health, hope and happiness to everyone for 2021. We’ve got this!