Well, 2021 is coming to a close and what a year it has been! I think most of us were hoping the untrained engineer would return to his post and let us off this rickety roller coaster. But, no such luck! However, I keep returning to something author Scott Adams said at the start of the pandemic: “Some of you are going to use this as opportunity, and some of you are going to use this as an excuse.” Just think about that.
The pandemic allowed many to forgo their daily commune and work from home. This could mean more time for family meals, weightlifting, or calling your mom. It may also mean an extra hour or two each day of binge-watching Squid Game or My Lottery Dream Home.
The pandemic shut down most everything. This was a chance to people to redirect funds from dining out, travel, and a new seasonal wardrobe to long-term goals, such emergency savings, retirement, a special trip, or an upcoming celebration. Alternatively, the extra funds could been allocated to daily Doordash deliveries, a new athleisure ware wardrobe, or mindless online shopping.
When remote work became a necessity for many companies, people could sulk about the dreaded change or explore new opportunities across the country. As face-to-face interactions became tougher, we could choose to withdraw and isolate or connect with people in other ways.
Across all areas of life–home, family, health, fitness, career, creativity, and more–every day presents a new choice. Do I choose progress, stagnation, or regression? Do I utilize this unique time to do something special, or do I cling desperately to the past?
The past two years have been hard. I’ve had many days and even longer stretches in which I didn’t have the bandwidth for forward momentum. I moped, I cried, and I longed for the good ol’ days of 2019. Those mopey days sucked. I have made an effort, wherever possible, to choose the high road and to put in a little extra work to set each day apart. And those small efforts add up.
Across a few months, I updated my resume, applied for many jobs, reviewed tips for interviewing, practiced salary negotiation techniques, interviewed, and started a new job. Over the same time period, I spent my weekends cutting fabric, strategically sewing bits together, and watching online tutorials of how to sew a French seam and gather 16 feet of fabric without wanting to kill myself.
Simultaneously, I tried dozens of new recipes using new ingredients and techniques, tinkered with some short story ideas that have been on my radar for years, and sent “miss you” cards to family and friends across the country.
The small things felt meaningful because I made them so. The world shakes when your child takes their first step. Allow yourself to feel that level of joy and excitement when you lace up your shoes for a run, try adding cinnamon to your spaghetti sauce, or sit down with a blank sheet of paper and your favorite black pen.
It appears that the pandemic will be a dark cloud over our lives for at least a few more months. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love the rain! We can view the lingering storm as an excuse to lounge about and do nothing, or we can view it as an opportunity to be creative and get our feet wet trying something new.
Looking back on the last two years, how have you used the pandemic as an opportunity to learn, to grow, and to improve yourself? What are your plans in the months to come?