The 4 Biggest Lessons I’ve Learned in 2020

I recently found my journal from the beginning of the year with the goals I had set for myself in 2020. Like many people, I began 2020 with a lot of goals and a deep conviction that this would be “my year.” Also like many people, things didn’t go at all as I planned.

Since this year has been, overall, a complete and utter dumpster fire, I thought I’d share the ways in which I’ve come to realize that it wasn’t as much of a total bust as I’ve been thinking it was for the past nine months. Because productivity and goals aside, 2020 ended up being an incredibly transformative year for me full of personal growth, self-reflection, and positive changes.

So without further ado, here are the four biggest lessons I’ve learned this year:

1. I am enough and my body is beautiful just the way it is.

I’ve always been a big proponent of body positivity and have been working hard over the last few years to tackle my own internal biases about weight. However, that’s never stopped me from taking an unreasonably critical eye to my own body. I’ve struggled for as long as I can remember with my body image and feeling fat, ugly, and not good enough because of it. I’m not going to dive into all of the reasons why it took me until this year to finally learn to love, respect, and accept my body as it is, but that’s the truth of it.

I’m not fully sure why 2020 is the year I decided to stop hating my body. If I had to guess, I’d say that having almost zero social obligations giving me excuses to criticize my body definitely helped. I think it’s also a natural part of the deep self-love and self-acceptance I’ve been nurturing this year. Whatever it is, though, I’m finally in a space where I love my body. I don’t love the way it looks every single day, but I love what it can do, I love how it takes care of me and carries me through the world, and, most importantly, I don’t stop loving it on the days that I’m less than satisfied with its outward appearance. I’ve finally come to truly understand that my worth and my place in the world have absolutely no correlation to my weight. I am enough just as I am.

2. I may be a huge introvert, but I still need community.

I don’t have a particularly large network of people in my life and up until this year, I’ve always been okay with that. In fact, I actually preferred it that way. However, with the pandemic and some other things that have happened in my personal life, I’ve realized that, as much as I like my space and have historically been fine to let my social anxiety run the show, I really do need community.

I need people in my life that I can turn to and that I can stay connected with, even if they’re just virtual connections. I may have thought that having just a partner and a few friends was fine, but now that I no longer have a partner and am geographically removed from all of my friends, I understand that my constant self-isolation was ultimately not the right path. So now I’m learning how to build and grow a new community for myself and I’m excited to prioritize this in the coming months.

3. It’s okay to ask for help.

I tell people this literally all the time and I thought I had already learned this lesson, but it turns out that all I’d learned was how to ask my partner for help. When my relationship with my partner shifted from one of romance to one of just friendship, I was hit with the painful truth that he was the only person I’d learned how to lean on. Growing up in a household where being upset and asking for emotional support were almost always met with dismissive anger or annoyance left me thinking for many, many years that it wasn’t okay for me to not be okay and that I had to be very careful about who I expressed myself to.

I thought that, because I’d learned to be so open and honest about my feelings with my partner, I’d healed this trauma. But then I found myself in a period of time during which I wasn’t able to turn to my partner and I realized that I still have a lot of work to do on this. It’s probably going to take a lot more time and therapy before I fully internalize that needing and asking for help are really okay, but right now I’m just taking my acknowledgement of this trauma as a step in the right direction.

4. Living authentically and in alignment with my values is absolutely life-changing.

The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns caused me to spend a whole lot more time sitting with myself than I’ve done in a long, long time. With nowhere to go and no socializing to do, I spent the entire first half of the year diving deep into my soul and facing head-on the things which have been weighing me down. I corrected the areas of my life that I wasn’t living in alignment with my values and have found that doing so has brought me the kind of spiritual peace that I didn’t even know I was missing. I still have a lot of areas of my life that I need and want to improve upon, but my spirit is doing so, so much better this year.

I also realized, in all of my soul searching, that the biggest inconsistency in my life and possibly the deepest source of despair is that I had been lying to myself about who I truly am for my entire life. Put more simply, I realized that I’m gay. This wasn’t an easy realization to arrive at and once I got there and came out to my loved ones, a whole new set of pain and challenges arose. The past few months have been an emotional roller coaster for me as acknowledged this and completely imploded my life, but ultimately I am so indescribably happy to have finally figured it out and now be living my life as my true, authentic self. Coming out lifted a weight from my soul that I didn’t even know was there.

I know all of the experiences I’ve described above are specific to me and my life, but I also hope that the overall lessons resonate with you, dear reader. And I would love to know: What lessons has 2020 taught you?

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Ryn Tocco

Ryn Tocco

Ryn is a queer writer based in Portland, OR. She’s passionate about social justice, sustainability, animal rights, & spirituality.