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New Year's Eve 2020: Good Bye Dumpster Fire, Hello Smoldering Dumpster?

It's New Year's Eve and my brain has been conditioned to look forward to a fresh-start beginning tomorrow. Traditionally I'm pretty good at starting fresh on New Year's Day and I look forward to the energy that comes along with new work-out routines, a list of goals for the year, and my unapologetic optimism for all the good that is to come in the following 12 months.

This year is different, but maybe not in the way you would expect New Year's Eve 2020 to be. I am still extremely optimistic, but 2020 has helped me to recognize the realist that hides deep down. I've been humored by the expression that "2020 has been a dumpster fire". I absolutely LOVE the picture that comes to mind when I hear this phrase, and the optimist in me loves the missed meaning behind this phrase. Most people hear "dumpster fire" and they picture a hot-mess that has been so horribly bad that it spontaneously combusted into a mountain of flames.

But not this girl... this girl sees a dumpster fire for what it is. It is container that we can put all of our garbage into. All of the things that we want to get rid of, that we have no need for, that we find no more value in. We toss all of those things into this stinky, dirty, hub in hopes that our garbage collector will take it out of sight, eventually making it out of mind. So a dumpster fire, to me, is an amazing visual of taking all of the crap from 2020 and saying "I salute you, now leave". As we say goodbye to 2020 and watch the flame of this fire burn bright tonight, I am going to celebrate all of the lessons that I have learned from the garbage that 2020 brought me and that I threw into the dumpster fire. Because believe it or not, 2020 has not been my worst year. It has been my most frustrating, most challenging, and most unpredictable year. But it has not been my worst. I know that this is not the case for everyone. For some of you, this has been the absolute worst year of your life, maybe because of COVID, maybe for some other reason. For you, my heart hurts, for you the flame in the dumpster will continue to burn as we approach a new year. For you, I will continue to pray for peace and healing.

But for me, 2020 has taught me a level of patience that I didn't know existed inside me. It has taught me new strengths and new weaknesses. It has taught me to slow-down, it has reminded me to open my eyes to everything and everyone around me, and it has allowed me to self-reflect all year, not just as I prepare resolutions and goals for the year ahead. It has shown me what I like about myself, what I want to change about myself, and how lucky I am to be ending the year with the same people that I began it with. It has taught me to make my health a priority, which ultimately helped me overcome COVID-19 when my entire house came down with the dreaded virus. 2020 brought personal challenges that I never anticipated. Challenges that overall, we have learned to manage. Challenges such as working from home while children are learning from home. Making three meals a day, every day, for 10 months straight while trying to work full-time, offer academic support to my children, and complete a doctoral degree for myself. Challenges such as trying to figure out how to stay connected to the important people in my life when our normal routines and hang-out times were taken away. Figuring out how to support the emotional and social needs of my kids when their activities, school, and time with friends have been stopped, delayed, or altered. And lastly, learning how to exist together as a family 24 hours a day. Some day I will look back at that paragraph above and laugh. I will say, "seriously...those were challenges?" because I will miss the closeness that we have developed (even though it has often been frustrating). I will miss spending every moment in sweatpants, and I will miss hearing my kids talking too loudly as I try to jump on a ZOOM call. So for tonight, rather than thinking of resolutions or goals for 2021, I am going to celebrate all of the unexpected accomplishments that 2020 brought to me and my family. I am going to celebrate what we have overcome, what we have learned, and what we are blessed to still have. Tomorrow I will give 2021 some thought. My goals and resolutions will not be like they typically are at the start of a new year, because although 2020 was a dumpster fire, the new-found realist in me recognizes that the dumpster will still be smoldering through the start of 2021. We still have the worries, frustrations, and stressors of a global pandemic. We will still have restrictions and changes to manage. We will still be dreaming and anxiously awaiting a return to routine, to predictability, and to normalcy. As I always do, I will resolve to practice more self-care in the new year. The only difference, is that 2020 taught me the importance of this and allowed me an opportunity to find an exercise and self-care regimen. For 2021, I resolve to continue it, where I normally resolve to start it. This year, as always, I will resolve to stay connected to those I care about and to communicate what they mean to me. The only difference, is that 2020 slapped me in the face with a reminder of the importance of this as well. So I don't need to start doing this in 2021, but I do believe that 2021 will be when I return to some of the old-school ways we did this in the years gone by. I want to send letters, I want to send cards, I want to make surprise visits to front doors like we did during the spring shut-down, because pure joy came to my entire family when the doorbell rang unexpectedly and a loved-one was standing on our sidewalk, just to say "Hi" from 6-feet away. This year, as soon as I am allowed, I will hug every single human being I come into contact with. Accept this as your warning. Basically, I understand that this year has sucked, but I also recognize that it could have sucked way worse...because as I said, it hasn't been my own personal worst. But sometimes we need knocked-off of our comfortable path to remind us that we are only in control of so much, and those things that we actually do have control over, we should probably start to prioritize. For me, it's the people I do life with. Because whether the dumpster is on fire or it's's more manageable when you have people beside you watching it go up in flames. Lastly, for those of you that have had your worst year. Please know that I see you. I feel you. I'm thinking of you. I recognize that my experience has not been everyone's experience. I have had a "worst year" that still resonates with me daily, and I do not wish it on anyone. Reach out for support, connect to others, and know that you are seen, heard, and thought of. Disclaimer: Blog posts reflect the opinions and experiences of the specific blogger and do not reflect the views or beliefs of Peerstar, LLC as an organization.

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