It is wild to think that 2020 is almost over already. Normally I don’t really notice how quickly the time goes. Because of the pandemic this year, I have a better sense of just how short one year seems. As I drove to work this morning, I couldn’t help but think about how I have spent this year. It feels like I’ve made no progress at all. If anything I’ve regressed. 2020 has been a year spent just trying to scrape my way out of the black hole I’ve fallen into. I still haven’t gotten back to the surface yet, but at least I’m no longer falling.
Years like this feel wasted. I think about all the productive things I could have done with 365 days. I think about where I could be right now if I had done those things instead of just struggling to stay alive. In our culture where productivity and progress equals value, it can be really hard not to beat yourself up when you aren’t able to meet society’s standards, or even your own. Most other people my age are married or already starting a family. I don’t even want those things. Yet I still feel like I’ve failed because I am not where my peers are in life. Even though I’m personally pretty okay with my life, I feel as though others view me as a failure or feel pity towards me. And no matter how many times I tell myself that those other opinions don’t matter, it is still hard to fully believe.
Today I really want to remind myself and anyone reading this, that it’s okay to not be making progress. It’s okay to spend a year or however long you need just surviving, just trying to cope with life. It may feel like you’ve spent so much time and energy just trying to get back to the starting line, but even so, that is not a wasted effort. Even though you have a mountain you want to climb, don’t discredit your hard work just making it back to sea level. That is still something to be proud of. You’ve still grown a lot. You’ve still learned a lot in the process.
I was nearly an alcoholic a year ago, but I was able to stop. That may feel like a worthless accomplishment sometimes, but I’m proud of myself. I’m grateful I was able to get off of that destructive path when so many others never do. I spent the majority of this year under the influence of an eating disorder, and I’ve finally found the courage to try to stop those behaviors as well. I may just be clawing my way back to normal, but I know how hard it’s been and I’m proud of myself regardless.
These are the reasons the opinions of others truly don’t matter. No one knows how I’ve struggled with these things. It may appear on the surface that I haven’t done much. Only I really know how hard I’ve been working just to be okay again. So even though it doesn’t feel like I’ve accomplished anything in a long time, I’m going to keep reminding myself that I have accomplished a lot. And even though there is still just as much mountain to climb, this time has not been wasted. I have gained so much knowledge and experience. I have learned invaluable lessons that I will take with me as I continue my journey.