I remember December 2018. I was at my parents house and we had a small gathering with my uncle’s family and grandmother to celebrate the end of the year. My uncle came to me and mentioned about 2018 being over and I remember replying tearfully something to the effect “Finally… this was such a hard year I just want it to be over”.
2018 was a hard year. A hard year so far… then came 2020.
In a strange way, 2020 was not harder than 2018 for me, personally. It was probably harder for people on average, and this comforts me a bit since, this time, I am not struggling alone. I see more people burnt out, just trying to get by, tired of online meetings, and tired of being stuck at home. More and more I hear that we need to be easy on each other, that we can’t possibly do everything we were doing before. We did save time on commuting, but now the house needs to be in order if it is appearing in a meeting, or we need to manage schedules so that the whole family is not speaking on meetings in the same room at the same time, or we need to make sure the kids are doing their homework, and the pets are not going to jump on camera, we need to make meals at home, we need to wash everything after coming back from the supermarket. All these things take more time and energy, and time and energy were already scarce resources before…
The same way this crazy year has exacerbated some of our social problems, it has also done so with our personal problems and the way we have been managing our personal lives. We are encouraged (to put it lightly) to strive for excellence. To be ambitious, to embrace opportunities, to accumulate roles. To “be creative” and recreate the same work environment at home. To be a good professional, partner, parent, sibling, friend, daughter/son, all at the same time. We were already working on our limits, when something unpredictable happened and everything goes up in the air. We struggle to find the time to even think about how to manage the emergency. We take it one day at a time, fighting small fires, without being able to stop and analyze the big picture, how we could be spending our time better, and what are our actual priorities. We end up spending time and energy to try and fit all we did before in this “new mode”, without ever considering whether we should be doing these things at all.
The best lesson we could learn from 2020 is to put things into perspective, and be better at figuring out what *really* matters. The more we do this exercise, the more we realize that very *few* things matter, and the rest is bonus: