What I've learned in 2020...

Wow. What a year. And it’s not quite finished with us yet…

The words ‘extraordinary’, ‘exceptional’, ‘unprecedented’ and so on tend to be over-used. But not in 2020 – in fact, I would argue that no word is strong enough to describe the 12 months we’ve just lived through. Not in a family blog, at least.

No one needs me to rehash the highlights of this remarkable, terrible, transformative year. But I’d like to share a few of the key things that I’ve learned, both professionally and personally, during the lurid fever dream that has been 2020.

1. We can take nothing for granted.

Haircuts. Shopping. Popping into the pub for a quick pint. Dropping in on your parents or inviting your friends around for dinner. Enjoying a night out at the theatre or cinema. Walking into a public indoor space without wearing a mask. Our health and that of the people we love. Crowds.

Not only did we discover how precious these simple things were to us when they were taken away but also, during the brief moments when we were permitted to enjoy them, we didn’t know when they might be cruelly snatched away again.

We’ve all got people, places and activities we’ve missed desperately since March and we’re not sure when they’ll resume their regular space in our lives. How sweet the moment will be when we can finally enjoy them again.

2. We’ve had to adapt to survive.

Just as the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 has been sneakily mutating – to devastating effect, as we have just discovered – all our certainties and assumptions have been challenged this year.

Industries we thought were unassailable, such as travel and weddings, have been torn apart like tissue paper in a rainstorm. Hospitality businesses have been chewed up and spat out by this virus, many of them never to recover. Drone footage of empty London streets and landmarks has sent chills up our collective spine, as we contemplate just how severe and lasting the damage from this pandemic might be.

But we’ve also seen incredible resilience and creativity, whether by businesses pivoting to survive or by individuals finding ways to cope with the emotional, physical and logistical pain of this crisis.

Like many self-employed people, I’ve had to look at gaining new skills and adapting what I offer, in order to adjust to a new post-Covid world. I’ve focused more on providing blogging and communication services to help other small and new businesses thrive in incredibly difficult times.

More adaptation and creativity may be needed in the near future, especially as more people are forced to become self-employed or launch new businesses. In which case I’ll continue to be inspired by the ingenuity of the small businesses I see all around me.

3. Kindness will win out.

We saw it between neighbours and strangers during the first national lockdown. We saw it in the spirit of elderly people doing amazing things to raise money for the NHS and other good causes.

Throughout 2020, I’ve seen it among my personal and professional connections. Businesspeople have gone above and beyond to support other businesses in their communities, to help people adapt or find new work where necessary. For every unkind comment on social media or judgmental opinion about other people’s behaviour, it seems to me there have been countless more incidents of people trying to support, elevate and inspire those around them.

I know I have certainly been the recipient of such kindness and I hope to be able to pay it forward in the future, whatever next year may hold.

So, goodbye to 2020 – you’ve taught us a few lessons, that’s for sure. Here's to a better 2021 and in the meantime, may I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

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