Every year, I pick a word of the year to reflect what I hope to focus on on a broad scale during the course of that year. I choose it at the close of the previous year after careful reflection about the direction I internally feel my life is going, and how I believe I can best lean into that direction.
Late last year, I picked love as my 2020 word of the year. Looking back, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
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2020 seems like multiple years and like it just started. I feel like I’ve aged lifetimes, yet I can hardly believe that my 27th year is nearly over, that it was spent almost exclusively at my house. The days at home blend into each other. Time has seemed to stop, and I find that my internal clock is confused that it’s already almost 2021. What? Wasn’t it just summer? We just pressed pause in March, right?
Yet, even though September feels like a lifetime ago now, I know that, despite the monotony this strange year has brought to my daily life, time is marching forward; furthermore, even though my body has been all too sedentary these last 9 months, my mind and soul are moving forward with time.
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When I chose love as my 2020 word of the year in late 2019, I was focused on obtaining external sources of love. In fact, that is what I thought 2020 would bring: external sources of love. In some ways, it has brought that. Yet, what I didn’t realize, and what I have been slowly discovering throughout the course of this year, is that 2020 has all about learning to love myself. Furthermore, those external sources that 2020 has brought were only obtained through a serious dedication to learning to love myself.
I didn’t love myself prior to this year. Not in the way I thought I did at the start of this year, at least.
On January 1, if you would have asked me if I loved myself, I would have said, “duh, of course I do”. I would have given you a laundry list of all the reasons I love myself–I do yoga every day, I meditate, I say no when I don’t want to do things, I eat healthy, home-cooked meals regularly, I try to get 7-8 hours a sleep each night.
That list would have shown that I’ve developed an impeccable self-care routine in the past few years. While self-care is, arguably, a form of love, it also doesn’t encompass love. Self-care says nothing of self-worth. Of having healthy boundaries. Of having joyful interactions on a daily basis. Of feeling secure in oneself. Furthermore, self-care on it’s own is a bit meaningless–as true self-care is meant to reset and rejuvenate oneself in order to show up at one’s best to all other forms of love.
While I had an impeccable self-care routine, I can’t say it supported me in any of those other forms of love until I really started working on myself in 2020.
And yes, it took a global pandemic for me to lose my shit enough to realize I needed to go inward. I wrote about that in this post. And yes, I’m grateful for this extended time at home because of that. As hard as this year has been–not being able to see family is hard, being at home all the time and isolated from humans outside of my housemates is hard (and I’m a homebody!), and adjusting to masks has been no small feat for me. It was such a feat, in fact, that I felt the urge to not just write one blog post about my mask anxiety, but a second one, as well.
This summer, a therapist told me, “It seems like you’re really good at telling yourself you’re worthy, but you don’t truly believe it.”
The insights of others are so useful sometimes; this insight sums up the last few years of my life to a tee. I can trace all of the issues I’ve experienced in in the past few years back to a lack of self worth.
Love 2020 has been so hard. So much harder than I imagined when I decided on love as my 2020 word. At a subconscious level, I must have known that I needed to learn to love myself. Why else would I have chosen this word as my 2020 word? I like to believe there is a connection there, at least, whether that connection is real or not.
Working towards real self-love is hard. It requires facing inner demons. It requires the willingness to be uncomfortable. For me, it required taking stock of some behaviors that I began to understand were quite impulsive, and realizing that I kept doing those impulsive behaviors to avoid discomfort.
Working towards real self-love requires taking responsibility for one’s own issues and actions instead of blaming others. Self-love is being kind to oneself in the wake of imperfect behavior, actions, and thoughts. It requires forgiving oneself and others. It requires giving up control. True self-love requires trust. Trust in oneself, which will inevitably lead to trust in others, and trust in the process that is life.
It also requires self-validation. Because, as I wrote in this post, I have a real problem with seeking validation from others–which ended up completely exacerbating my mask anxiety. Seeing liberals fed up with anti-maskers completely invalidated my own mask anxiety, even though I myself was not an anti-masker, because I was looking for others to validate my mask anxiety instead of working towards developing the courage and wherewithal to validate it within myself. It hasn’t been easy and some days are still really hard mask-wise, but I’ve come a long way in validating my mask anxiety in the past few months.
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I have learned to love myself in 2020.
Well, more than I used to, at least. Learning to love myself is not over. It’ll be a life-long process, I’m sure.
Despite how hard this year has been on a global scale, despite the isolation, my struggle with mask anxiety, and uncertainties about the future, 2020 had taught me what love is in a way that no other year could have. I don’t think any of this massive growth could have happened to me in any other circumstance. For that, I’m grateful.
I’m grateful to move into the future with all the tools I’ve gained in 2020. From the lessons I’ve taken in self-worth, self-love, and graceful living.
2020 has been a transformative year for everyone, and not always for the best. While it didn’t pan out the way anyone was hoping, I’m hopeful that we can turn the events of this year into powerful catalysts for change. I know I’m trying my best to do that.
What’s in store for 2021, then? My 2021 word is ease. I have a habit of making my life ten times harder than it needs to be, and my work in the love year has taught me how that is such an exhausting way to live. If I’ve learned anything from 2020, I know that directing myself towards easeful living will be way easier said than done (I don’t know how many times I’ve had to remind myself during the course of this year that love is my 2020 word!). Yet, I know that hard things are usually worth doing. So, I walk into 2021 with an open heart and mind. I will work to take all the lessons I’ve learned during love 2020 into the future, while specifically focusing on cultivating more and more ease into my life…because I know ease–alongside love–will be absolutely necessary for the happy, healthy, inspired life that I am envisioning for myself.
Happy New Year, All.
(On an unrelated note, you can tell I watch too much of The Crown by the amount of times I’ve used “one’s” and “oneself” as pronouns in my writing.)