Phew. Where to even begin with this year? From lockdowns and social distancing, Netflix obsessions and wearing pyjamas all day every day, facemasks, global anxiety, working from home, and way too much junk food. Somehow it has felt incredibly long and incredibly short. Here are five things we’ve learnt along the way:
1) You Have to Roll with the Punches
We’re sure we don’t have to describe to anyone reading this how difficult it was (and continues to be) to predict which crazy direction the year would turn next in 2020. Much of this year has consisted of treading water and hoping that another wave didn’t swallow us up. When you can’t safely plan for what tomorrow, or next week, or next month, or next year, will hold, there’s only one solution: stay loose, stay flexible, and roll with the punches. Sadly this year we’ve had to let go of our office space. But in true rolling with the punches fashion, we’re staying optimistic. We’ve always said that the best thing about our job is that we can do it from anywhere, and our team continues to work well together, even from our separate homes. Besides, there’s nothing an occasional coffee meetup can’t fix.
2) The World is a Very Big Place
2020 has reminded us that the world is a very big place filled with innumerable people – all from different backgrounds, with different opinions, different struggles, and different talents. Covid-19, as devastating as it has been, has shown us that our world is so much bigger than just what’s in front of us. While that knowledge can sometimes feel overwhelming, we think there’s still value in being reminded of our place in the wide, glittering tapestry of our vast global village. There’s value in engaging with information around how other countries are handling the pandemic and weighing it up against South Africa’s response. It’s important to watch the news of BLM protests in the USA and ask ourselves questions about racism and how it applies to our own lives. We can benefit from keeping informed about the rest of the world and educating ourselves on our place in it. We’re all part of a global village, and 2020 has reminded us all that we have a role to play in that village.
3) The World is also a Very Small Place
The internet can sometimes make us feel like the big wide world is right outside our door. But we find our rootedness in our real, physical communities. With this year’s lockdown, we had to retreat to our own small worlds – and we were reminded of how important those are. Even as lockdown lifted, social distancing rules have still kept us from socialising with the frequency and scale that we might want to. Though these changes have been difficult to adapt to, they have had an unexpected benefit. They’ve helped us learn not to take our friends, families, and loved ones for granted. Being forced to slow down and stay at home for a while has taught us how to step back and appreciate what’s truly important. Yes, the world is a very big place, but it’s also very small, and there’s beauty in appreciating that.
4) You Have to Manage Your Emotional Bandwidth
2020 has been a year of anxiety. We’re worried about our health and our loved ones. We’re anxious about what the future is going to hold. This anxiety can hinder our ability to focus and channel our energy into the right places. We were lucky enough to chat with the talented Craig Rodney recently and learn about his Emotional Bandwidth Management model. His workshop taught us how to decide what we should be spending our valuable time focusing on, and how to free up our emotional bandwidth to focus on what’s important. A pertinent and helpful workshop, it was just what we needed to help deal with the stresses of this year. We were left with this quote from Ivan Nuru as a reminder for the future: “If it is out of your hands, it deserves freedom from your mind too.”
5) Optimism is a Strategy for Making a Better Future
Noam Chomsky says, “Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, it’s unlikely you will step up and take responsibility for making it so. If you assume that there’s no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, there are opportunities to change things, there’s a chance you may contribute to making a better world.” At Tall Pink Gumboots, we’re big believers in optimism. We’re big believers in finding the silver lining no matter how dark the storm might look. We have hope for the future. We have to.