At the start of 2020, people used the hashtag #2020vision to describe how they would pursue their new year’s resolutions with razor sharp focus. That, of course, was drastically put on hold, as we progressed through the very year that would derail everyone’s plans.
My experience was similar: rather than pursuing my goals with absolute clarity, I felt aimless and unsure about many things I once felt resolute about. By embarking on the journey of challenging my own deep-rooted assumptions, I felt as if I’d attacked the very foundations that my life stood on. I was suddenly unsure of things I was once so certain of.
I also became more aware of things about myself that still needed healing and rewiring—things like core beliefs and automatic thought patterns and their corresponding physiological responses. Prior to the pandemic, these were easy to ignore because of the countless distractions. But now that old activities were “cancelled”, the silence had a way of revealing what was beneath the surface.
It’s during moments like these, when everything seems to crumble into confusion and old wounds feel like new ones, that I wonder whether I’ve even grown at all on the heels of a brand new year.
But then I realized: this sense of inner turmoil, fragmentation, and lack of cohesion was the direct result of venturing out of my bubble and exposing myself to new ideas. The painful awareness of having unhelpful thought patterns still ingrained in my system were important and life-changing insights. In short: even though it feels as if my internal world has disintegrated, I have indeed “grown”—just not in the way I expected to.
Growth doesn’t always look like a state of upwards progression. Sometimes it looks more like a “dismantling of self.”
The process of confusion is sometimes necessary before arriving at clarity, just as the process of breaking down is necessary before rebuilding. I recently learned that a bone gets stronger once it heals after being broken—stronger than it was before it had been broken at all—so I have hope that the same can apply to our internal worlds.
If you’re like me and you’re tempted to feel like you’ve regressed rather than progressed, remember that growth often looks like ‘dismantling’ before it starts to look like ‘building up’. Sometimes the sting of a hard lesson learned, or the confusion of an existential crisis, are the exact symptoms of a person who has, in fact, grown. So keep your chin up. Maybe you’ve come much further than you initially thought.
Perhaps this was one of the unexpected “gifts” that 2020 gave us: the ability to acknowledge things we’d been ignoring or putting on the back-burner.
Like the importance of looking after our physical and mental health. Like the issue of racism and police brutality. Like the issue of global warming and it’s impact on accelerating natural disasters. Like the importance of being grateful for the people and things we took for granted. Like the importance of personal responsibility in contributing to the betterment of the community, even the globe.
2020 has been dubbed “the year that the future was cancelled,” but it was also the year that created much-needed awareness in our communal and personal lives. So perhaps, in a weird way, the hashtag #2020vision still applies—just not in the way we thought it would.
As we eagerly (and anxiously) crawl out of 2020 and into the new year ahead, let’s take the time to reflect on the lessons that 2020 has taught us. And remember: don’t underestimate how much you’ve grown.
Here’s to honouring the present journey and celebrating what’s to come! Happy New Year.
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