I think I jinxed 2020. Almost exactly one year ago, I wrote Unconscious Pessimism, where I talked about how, because of a really fantastic start to 2020, I had this core belief that things were going to go sideways to balance the scales. I ended that blog with: “I’m sure the rest of the decade will have plenty of hiccups and catastrophes to derail my plans and give me peace of mind.” So, ugh, my bad everyone.
Jokes aside, I had no clue how right I would be. Not only did things tip the other way, the scale was crushed under the weight of a pandemic, unemployment, family losses, depression, and the stress of moving to another province. Like everyone else, I’ve had a year.
This time last year, I had just gotten into grad school (not knowing it would be all online), accomplished a huge project at work (only to be laid off two weeks later), my grandma had been released from the hospital (and passed away a few weeks afterwards), and my niece had just been born (which we wouldn’t be able to celebrate because of the pandemic). And despite all of that, I still can’t write-off 2020.
Since last March, I’ve changed a lot as a person (which, absolutely terrifying process), but now I’m settling into this new version of myself, and I’m pretty happy with the results. While not ideal for an extrovert and despite the resulting social anxiety, quarantine has given me the chance to actually enjoy some downtime without a chaotic social calendar. Plus, it’s made staying in contact with friends long-distance easier because everyone is already doing everything over zoom anyway.
The travel ban meant I cancelled my trip to Italy planned for the summer, but I got the chance to explore parts of Manitoba I had never been to before, which was especially nice as I got ready to move to another province. And I don’t remember the last time I had time to actually enjoy summer like I did in 2020, to spend days reading at the beach or taking Rocket on long walks every day; that wouldn’t have been possible in a normal year.
With vaccines on the horizon and the potential to return to normal looming ever closer, I still lean into that core belief that things are going to disappoint. There’s a bit of a running joke that I don’t use the “o” word — also known as optimism — because I approach everything with pessimism. It’s 100% a defence mechanism (see, therapy is working), and I argue that I would rather be pleasantly surprised than having my hopes dashed. Is this a healthy way of coping with disappointment? No, not particularly, but we’re all just doing our best here, folks.
Moral of the story? I was right. Well, okay, I also shouldn’t put all that pessimistic energy out there into the ether on the off-chance that it triggers a worldwide pandemic. Okay, okay, actual moral of the story: Just because things don’t go to plan doesn’t mean that’s necessarily a bad thing. There’s something to be said about appreciating the good things that happen, as well as acknowledging that things aren’t always going to be good. Balance and all that.