As an almost-recovered negative person, I now try to find the silver lining in everything, but recognizing what I’m thankful for in the year of COVID-19 has been particularly challenging. Everything has been particularly challenging this year.
I’ll just come out and say it: 2020 fucking sucked.
We lost loved ones. We lost socialization. We lost our jobs and our health insurance. We canceled events, trips, and holidays. We gained fear and uncertainty. We spiked in anxiety and depression. And we did it all in the midst of an already-chaotic, divided, and confusing time in society– one riddled with distrust in our nation’s leaders and skepticism of science.
Phew. That’s a lot.
I’m not trying to use this post as a way to join the toxic-positive crew. I don’t want to be one of those people who are seemingly blind to the suffering around them, forcing you to roll your eyes and think: “Oh shut up” every time they minimize your problems or remind you how things could always be worse.
Of course things could always be worse, but we are allowed to vent out our pain before dusting ourselves off and seeking the positive.
I can be in the company of your misery and admit that, for most of this year– this hellacious, lonely, challenging, depressing, pile-of-dog-shit year– I had focused on the negative.
Maybe that’s obvious in the sentence above.
I vented my negative all-year-long, and now I’m looking for the positive. And I’m happy to report that, as I sat back to reflect, I realized I do have plenty that I’m thankful for in 2020. Yes, even this year– this horrible, disturbing, draining year.
I’m trying my darndest to practice gratitude and focus on what I’ve gained and maintained this year instead of what I lost because Lord knows I’ve already done a lot of complaining from March until– well– right now.
As we enter our last month of the year, I figured it’s an appropriate time to seek the good. I told myself I can always find at least one thing that I’m thankful for and that practicing gratitude helps rewire my brain for the better.
So here goes. Here are 10 things that I am thankful for in 2020:
#1) I’m thankful for our good health
At the time of this post, none of us or our family members contracted COVID-19. We are so fortunate to have avoided catching COVID-19, or worse, losing a loved one to it. After continuously reading headlines of alarming death tolls, practicing gratitude for our lives and our lack of infection seems obvious. We may not be in the best health of our lives right now, thanks to gyms closing, booze-consumption increasing, stress skyrocketing, and the quarantine-15 (or– let’s be real– 20) settling onto our bodies. But we are alive, we are well, and for that, we are thankful.
#2) I am thankful for my family
I’d be lying if I said that my toddler didn’t drive me insane only a couple of weeks into quarantine. I can fully admit that being stuck inside of the house every day with an active 15-month-through-20-month-old absolutely sucked.
My son was born while my husband and I lived in Colorado with no nearby family. To this day, he is 22 months old, and we have still never had a solo date night.
Although we always cared for him alone, we still got out of the house before COVID-19. We went to parks, the library, indoor jungle gyms, and whatever else. When COVID-19 hit and we lost those opportunities, it wasn’t long until we became completely stir-crazy. My husband worked remotely for the first few months of quarantine before getting laid off, and my requests for online classes skyrocketed. This meant a lot more multitasking under one roof.
That said, the COVID-19 quarantines gifted us with more time spent together and forced us to slow down. We snuggled more, we read more books, we stayed in our pajamas later into the day (or all day.) We enjoyed shows together, we played more, and our son ultimately spent every minute of every day with one or both of his parents– something that we must recognize as a blessing and a privilege that many do not have.
Appreciation for my husband grew as I witnessed him step up to the extra challenges we faced. My love and pride for my son quadrupled as I witnessed his daily growths and changes. I vented to my husband on the regular, and he responded with hugs and encouragement. My son made me laugh and smile every day, even in the midst of driving me crazy. Without my family by my side, this otherwise-shitty year would have been exponentially shittier.
#3) I am thankful for our new jobs
My husband and I both started new jobs during this already-chaotic year. My husband was laid off due to COVID-19 and forced into a new career. I stopped teaching on Outschool and started teaching at a daycare school where I bring my son. On top of everything else this year, adding the stress of starting new jobs seems like something that would tempt us to focus on the negative.
This is especially true considering the fact that we both took pay cuts. I went from making about $20/hour (with all of my time, materials, and taxes accounted for) to making $10/hour. My husband went from making $26/hour to $16/hour. To make matters more stressful, my husband entered a completely different field. However, we recognize that millions have lost their jobs without securing new ones, so we are extremely thankful to have any job at all.
#4) I am thankful for our friends
Our friends have truly made 2020 bearable. They have made us laugh, they’ve suffered with us, they’ve shared dank memes, they’ve inspired us. Our friends shared thoughtful words, they protested for human rights despite the COVID-19 shutting the world down, they reached out to us with texts, Snaps, calls, and FaceTimes. Even though COVID-19 made it impossible to see our friends in-person, we still found ways to connect.
Without our friends, the isolation and loneliness of this year would have consumed us. I found myself reaching out to my friends more often, reconnecting with old friends for the first time in years, and sharing more loving sentiments with those I care about. Once again, COVID-19 forced us to slow down and allowed me to connect with my network more. For that, I am thankful, even if that socializing was virtual and distanced.
#5) I am thankful for technology
How in the world did people survive in the pandemic of 1919? I mean, honestly. I’m sure this makes me sound like a bratty millennial, but the general cancelation that COVID-19 caused hurt me immensely. The only thing that allowed me and my family to thrive in any way was the internet. How people experienced a pandemic without phones, the internet, and connectivity to other humans is truly beyond me. I’ve always known that I couldn’t survive on a deserted island; now I know that I could not survive a technology-free pandemic. Bingeing content, surfing the web, and connecting to others online were, without-a-doubt, the lifelines of 2020.
#6) I am thankful for food
I’ll be the first to admit that I gained the “quarantine-15,” plus an extra five or six pounds. In my opinion, I held a civil duty to support local small-business restaurants. I had no choice but to order takeout two or three times per week (which is triple our usual habits). Am I a hero? IDK, maybe, you tell me. Am I a glutton for food? Absolutely. Treating ourselves to Thai, tacos, pizza, pasta, or whatever else sounded good that night provided something to look forward to. It also saved us time and effort in cooking every meal. I’ve always been food’s #1 fan, but somehow, COVID-19 made me appreciate every morsel that much more.
#7) I am thankful for our resilience
This year, we raised a one-year-old toddler with zero help, we woke up at 2 am to work, we clocked 12-hour work days, we clocked 17-hour work days, we sold our house and moved to our fourth state in five years, we lost jobs and secured new jobs, we lost weight and gained weight, we became isolated, depressed, anxious, challenged, and stretched to the maximum. But we did it all, and we’re still here with smiles on our faces. We never hated or resented each other like some of the horror stories I’ve heard from other quarantined-couples. And we’re still trucking along. We are resilient individuals, and that is truly a gift that I am thankful for.
#8) I am thankful for humor
A sense of humor and comedic relief were absolutely vital to surviving this year. I’ve always loved my husband’s sense of humor, but especially so during COVID-19. In making each other laugh, we forgot all of the crap that otherwise consumed our year. Laughter allowed us moments of joy when everything else felt like gloom and doom. No matter where they came from, my husband and I exchanged all of the memes, tweets, and TikToks we found. I’m thankful for laughter and for humor, and I’m sure you are too.
#9) I’m thankful for wine
Like food, wine (or beer) was one of only three elements of fun we could experience during the pandemic. Wine took the edge off, it made me relax, and it made me feel happy. The combination of wine, takeout, and a new show to binge replaced every event or activity. Although I’ve chosen to cut the wine-intake (way) back, I am thankful for the service it provided from March to August.
#10) I am thankful for our community
We’ve had two communities during the pandemic, and I’m thankful for both of them. We entered COVID-19 while living in Colorado, and we moved to Missouri in the fall. Both communities have been exceptional in coming together, pooling and sharing resources, food, and information, and offering a helping hand. Through involvement in my local neighborhood’s Facebook groups, I remained hopeful and inspired through these difficult times. Not once have we lived in a divided, hateful community, and I am thankful for that– especially this year.
What are you thankful for in 2020? I know it’s tempting to scream “NOTHING! Fuck this year!” into the void. But if you dig deep, I’m sure you could come up with at least five things you appreciate. Connect with me on Instagram @ImLaurenRose_ to let me know!