Considering the blockbuster-worthy, 12-month, traumatic event that was 2020, even the most enthusiastic “new year, new me” advocate is probably tempted to skip the whole resolution thing this year (or forever). I must admit that I am an avid New Year’s resolution writer; there’s just something about setting down a year’s worth of intentions on paper that feels magical to me. But this year I’m feeling a little different. As 2020 (also known as the most drawn-out, sped-up, chaotic year in recent memory) comes to a close, I realized that this was a year that life forced a lot of very necessary lessons on me. And despite my very valid apprehension about 2021, I owe it to myself, to bring those lessons along with me. 2020 taught me a hell of a lot—here are some things I definitely don’t want to forget in the New Year.
1. Some days (or weeks), you’ll accomplish absolutely nothing—and that’s OK
Throughout this pandemic, my productivity came in waves—some days all I could find the energy to do was shower and eat handfuls of cereal. I felt so frustrated with myself because I’d always said “if only I had more time…” and now here I was, with an excess of time, and squandering it. And so I’d plan my days out—‘Learning Tuesdays’, ‘Writing Wednesdays’—in hopes of forcing productivity, and end up feeling totally overwhelmed. Now, I try to listen to my body’s natural rhythms; to be guided by my energy’s ebb and flow, rather than try to fight it. These past few months have shown me that our desire to create needs to be coupled with moments of rest. We won’t always be in a pandemic, but the rules don’t change—real productivity comes with peace, and peace comes from mental, physical, and emotional rest. So rest.
2. Personal space is not negotiable
I’m eagerly awaiting the day that face masks are a thing of the past, but I will definitely be maintaining my six feet of distance. Having a mandated personal bubble has shown me that people (often men) really have been encroaching on my space in a way that I’ve never enjoyed. And yet, I’ve just been allowing it. But now that I know the peace that comes with the appropriate amount of breathing room, I’m never going back. Back it up, please!
3. Dressing up has everything to do with you, and nothing to do with anyone else
My Leo sun already knew this, but this year definitely solidified it for me. There were a lot of days this year where I just didn’t feel like myself, and doing my hair, putting on something nice, and adding a swipe of my favorite Fenty lipstick made a huge difference. I’d look at myself in the mirror-like, “sure, you might have lost your job in the middle of a pandemic, but sis, don’t you look good?” Getting all dolled up for no one’s benefit but my own gave me the boost I so desperately needed at times. And I learned a very valuable lesson: there’s no one who deserves me showing up as my best self more than me.
4. Black lives still matter
This year was a tumultuous one, and for many of us, a wake up call, especially when it comes to issues of racial injustice. But the work does not and cannot stop in 2020. No one wants to be a ‘black square’ ally, where posting that black square back in June is the extent of your engagement with racial issues. You still need to buy Black, you still need to support Black women, and you still need to call out your racist colleagues, neighbors, and family members. Keep that same energy in 2021 and beyond; the work is not done.
5. You’re better than stressing over a few extra lbs
Full disclosure—I’m still working on this one! While I understand that a little extra weight is NBD in theory, putting it into practice is where things get a little shaky. But here’s the thing, guys, maybe we did gain a little weight over this year… but like, so what? No seriously, so what? We survived every single thing this year has thrown at us—how dare we beat ourselves up over a couple of inches! Our bodies are operating constantly and dynamically on our behalf (even in a pandemic); let’s give them a little grace, shall we? It helps to remember that your body is not some future goal, but a current, wonderful reality. I used to see my post-HIIT sweat as calories burned, ergo, potential lbs lost. Now, I try to embrace the exhaustion and endorphins, focusing on the fact that I’ve done something that serves my body.
6. Falling in love with your bare face is beautiful
This year stripped me bare in a lot of different ways. Even though I certainly spent days in lockdown, thinking wistfully about my next visit to my wax girl, nail tech, lash girl, etc., the time forced me to come to terms with my face without the enhancements. And I started finding things I liked—the shape of my cheekbones, how my skin looks like the perfect cup of coffee, the way my smile reaches all the way to my eyes. I hadn’t realized how much I relied on the extra stuff to feel satisfied about the way I look and the process of becoming reacquainted and falling in love with my naked face feels really, really good. This doesn’t mean I don’t still love a perfect brow and a bomb highlight (cause I do), but I’ve also become OK with leaving home with just sunscreen and lip balm. We call that growth!
7. No more waiting for a ‘special occasion’
I’m no longer putting down that bottle of wine for later or saving that outfit for a special date. Forgive the cliché, but life is short! I don’t think we consider how much of our life we spend waiting—waiting for the right moment, the right weather, the right mood, the right crowd. I’m here to say the right ‘whatever’ is exactly when and where you want it to be. If you feel like the right time to pop a bottle of champagne is on a Thursday evening after clearing a particularly daunting inbox, then so be it, darling! Forgive this second cliché, but being alive is the special occasion!