This time last year, we were busy drawing up a resolutions list—things we wanted to do, goals we wanted to accomplish, places we wanted to go, and changes we would like to make in our lives—determined to make 2020 better than 2019 and not let the latter bleed into the former. As desperate as we are to cut ties with 2020, pretend like it never happened, many of us have allowed it to set the theme for 2021. The lessons it has taught us are crucial.
She will ‘try’ to be more flexible—with her plans, how she deals with family, and her daily work schedule. She will ‘try’ to cook more of what her family likes but also ‘try’ to spend less time doing so. She will ‘try’ to be more in the present. She will ‘try’ to be less stressed.
The past year has made her realize that while she can juggle multiple things simultaneously—home, work, children—there’s no way she can stay on top of her responsibilities all the time. The best she can do is cut herself (and others) some slack and try to be a better version of herself.
2020 seems to have brought about a drastic shift in perspective. It has changed how we view ourselves, our lives, and the world around us. For many, resolutions this year come from lessons learnt in the past 10 months or so. And for many of these are inward-focused rather than goal or ambition driven.
There’s always a bright side
For Sunaina Saraf, co-owner at Innovations, an interior designer firm, 2020 was a year of incredible inner strength and positive energy. Most people, she says, might remember 2020 for the losses they have incurred but she’d like to think of it as a year that showed her many strengths.
“The past year has taught me to be kinder to people I work with and show more empathy,” she says adding that her one-to-one dealings with people, compared to group meetings earlier, have changed interpersonal dynamics.
Saraf has also started seeing life a little differently. Today, she strongly believes something good can come out of every situation and she is learning to harness this powerful energy. She isn’t denying that there will definitely be fear and uncertainty in 2021 but she is ready to handle whatever new challenges the year might bring.
Ankeet Rajbhandari, who works at a life insurance company, says despite all the negativity of 2020, he too would like to focus on the positive aspects. In hindsight, the year taught him the importance of being disciplined, focusing only on what’s necessary thus letting go of little things, and the value that’s in being surrounded by family.
Don’t dwell on what you can’t change
Some people APEX contacted for this story were hesitant to talk about their 2020 experience. They felt their views and stories didn’t matter when the world was reeling under such catastrophe—with many people losing their loved ones, jobs, and simply struggling to survive. Having had the luxury to stay at home and not having to worry whether the lockdown would take away their livelihoods, they felt their issues were trivial and thus not worthy of being talked about.
But life has indeed been difficult, for all of us. In our own ways, we have suffered and felt lost as we grappled with the circumstances. Mental health issues have reared their ugly heads. Most of us have had to contemplate and rethink our priorities and goals as well.
Smriti Nepal, who lives in Sydney, Australia and has a doctoral degree, was supposed to get married in 2020. She was to spend three months hosting her beloved niece during her holidays. And her family were to be together to ring in the new year. None of these things happened. Each cancelled plan, she says, was accompanied by crushing disappointment.
“My biggest learning has been to not dwell on what I can’t change. Of course, I always knew this but 2020 gave me the opportunity to practice it. This mantra also keeps anxiety at bay,” she says.
Sneha Koirala, founder of the lifestyle brand Studio Sarcastic, says 2020 put life on hold but she also got the chance to reorganize her plans. She could finally do things she had wanted to for a long time but kept putting off for one reason or another. Turns out, all she needed was some time to gather her thoughts and courage.
Embrace change and live in the moment
What’s amazing is that despite all that 2020 has thrown our way, quite a few have managed to keep their faces to the sunshine. As trying as the year was, 2020 has taught us some invaluable lessons.
One of the biggest has been staying focused in the present and learning to take things one day at a time—which, many confessed, they didn’t do prior to the pandemic in their haste to accomplish one task or goal after another.
Pavitra Rana, program officer, FAITH, a non-profit organization working for socially marginalized and vulnerable populations, says Covid-19 might have put a halt to many of her plans but she has come to the realization that sometimes it’s okay to sit back and see how things unfold in your life rather than rushing into things just so you do them at the ‘right’ time (or as per the status quo). Keeping that in mind, she intends to let life take its course and be flexible in her approach to living in 2021.
“This year, I’d like to not be attached to anything—be it plans, dreams, or other materialistic pursuits,” she says. If there is one thing 2020 has made clear, she says, it’s that things will not always go according to your plan and you need to be okay with that.
Rajbhandari also feels 2020 has taught us to embrace change and learn to adapt to it and do so swiftly. This mentality, he believes, will help him tackle challenges more easily and efficiently this year.
One of our intrinsic flaws has been our inability to go with the flow. We plan and we expect everything to fall into place accordingly. It rarely does. And it’s never been more apparent than in 2020.
From now on, Rupam Shrestha, who works at Sipradi Trading, intends to have long term projections as well as short term goals. This, he believes, will help you to maintain focus and direction when things aren’t going as you expected them to.
Isha Karki, assistant brand manager at Rohto-Mentholatum Nepal, swears she will always have a plan B—because you never know when you might need it.
Connections and kindness
For Alok Thapa, senior radio program producer and presenter at Hits FM 91.2, the year 2020 was of prioritizing what mattered. Thapa is glad he got to spend quality time with his parents, listening to their stories of ‘old’ Kathmandu. He also connected with his neighbors—something he wishes he had done sooner.
“I think 2021 isn’t going to be any less challenging. It will still require a lot of prioritizing and patience. But after a year like 2020, I feel nothing is off limits,” says Thapa.
2020 has forced us to slow down. And in doing so, we have had the opportunity to realign our lifestyles with our values. So, taking care of one’s mental wellbeing, learning to live with less, and finding balance between home and work seemed to be the top three resolutions for the new year. The focus is more on ‘being’ than ‘having’.
A US-based Nepali medical doctor, who saw Covid-19 claim many lives, says that 2020 has made it evident that life can change in the blink of an eye and that sometimes there is nothing you can do about it. Faced with the fragility of life, you are bound to reconsider all that you believe to be true and let go of grudges. Be a little kinder than necessary, if you may, she says.
According to Nepal, the Sydney-resident who works in drug prevention/mental health research, 2020 has shed light on the importance of connection and resilience. In 2021, she hopes to be a better daughter, partner, sister, and friend. This, she says, comes from the fact that she couldn’t see many of her family and friends in the past year.
Prita Malla, mother, wife, and business analyst at Spire Energy, a public utility holding company based in Missouri, US, wants to be more mindful of her actions and live each day to the fullest while making self-care her number one priority.
“I think we have to accept that this coronavirus is here to stay and tweak our perspective of what’s ‘normal’. We must also let go of what’s not in our control and focus on things we can change. That’s the best way to move into the new year,” she concludes.