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New Beginnings: What the 2020 Pandemic Taught Me

Let’s face it: 2020 kicked our butts in a way it’s never been kicked before. I’ll be the first to admit that even with all my training, formal education and theoretical preparation, the world (myself included) was not prepared for what the COVID-19 pandemic brought.

Food shortages, mad dashes for cleaning supplies and the virus unlike any history as ever seen but can be closely compared to the Spanish Flu of 1918. The world was not ready and social workers/therapists/clinicians alike were inundated with calls and sessions at unprecedented numbers.

While the last year has been grim, it has also been eye opening about a lot of things. COVID-fatigue may be settling but we must remain diligent in our part about reducing the spread of the disease.

With that said, I wanted to share what the 2020 pandemic taught me…

1. Do Your Part

We all have a part to play. Maybe you’re a teacher who’s teaching virtually and it requires you to get creative with your lesson plans to keep students engaged. Or, perhaps you’re a doctor who must visit patients at home rather than the hospital because of overcrowding. We all have a part to play in this pandemic, and it taught me to look deep to find my part. Ask yourself: what role do I play for my family, my community, my network? Maybe you’re a listening ear, or a kind ‘hello’ to a neighbor you’ve never spoken to before. Doing your part can not only help others but yourself as well.

2. The World Will Never Be the Same Again

The world as we knew it in January 2020 will never be the same again. We can live in denial or we can move forward - the choice is yours. Change is scary, uncomfortable, unknown, but sometimes it can be the best thing to ever happen. There is a silver lining in all of this but we must also learn to embrace the new. It won’t hurt forever but with each passing day, it gets a little easier. Hang in there.

3. Preparation is Key

I’ll be the first to admit that I balked at those individuals who stockpiled supplies like toilet paper and dish detergent. We all have. But, the reality is that those individuals were also able to share what they had with neighbors who didn’t have anything or friends who needed a helping hand. We can’t prepare for everything in life but we can certainly try. What plans do you have for the future? What preparations are you making for different situations that you might encounter?

4. Be Present

Humans are social creatures by nature. We thrive off interactions with other people and need some sort of daily engagement. Self-isolating/quarantine is tough for some many because that daily interaction was taken away. What I learned during this pandemic was to be as present as possible. Whether it was a phone call to family or a Zoom call with friends, being in that moment without any other distractions allowed me to focus my attention on that situation and fully embrace it.

2020 was an eye opening year in more ways than one, but it was also full of lessons and beautiful moments where families, friends and neighbors came together. Don’t let the scariness of all that has transpired in the last year scare you; let it fuel you to be a better person in the new year.

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