This has been the weirdest of years. If tomorrow the news reported that aliens were invading, I’d probably shrug and keep going about my day. Alien invasion? That’s a slow news day after a year filled with as much emotion as 2020.
I’ve been thinking about the weirdness of 2020 quite a bit because I’ve found this year hard to reconcile. My brain struggles to wrap itself around everything that has happened. All the emotion, all the heartache, all the WTFs and awful things that have come to define the year-that-shall-not-be-named.
But one thing I do know, as weird as this year
has been continues to be, I cannot say 2020 has been the worst year ever.
Let me explain.
For me to say that this has been the worst year of my life both negates all the good things that have happened to me this year and diminishes the other awful times I’ve had over the course of my life.
Worst, for you grammar nerds, is defined as bad or ill in the highest, greatest, or most extreme degree. Worst, as use in “the worst year,” is a superlative adjective used to denote the extreme highest or lowest out of a group of nouns. In other words, nothing beats worst.
So it negates the good because I’ve just said it was the worst year. If it’s the worst year, then how can there have been any good? This is the extreme lowest of the low years.
And it diminishes the other bad times because if this is the worst year, then when my dad died in 2010, then that couldn’t have been as bad as the worst year because I just proclaimed 2020 was the worst year. Right?
See what I’m getting at? Me proclaiming this is my worst year negates any good that has happened to me this year and diminishes the other just as horrible life events.
And because my brain sometimes works in wonky ways, how I got to the above, after grammar nerding on the word “worst” of course, is I started thinking about what a year really is.
A year is 12 months.
When I broke down the year into its parts, when I saw how many hours, minutes, seconds, then I cannot say that this year has been particularly horrible across the board. Because not all 31+ million seconds were bad (or really ~22,723,200 seconds because there’s still 102 days left of 2020. And yes, I can do math . . . sometimes). And not all 6+ thousand hours of the 263 days have been bad.
In 2020, I’ve had beautiful minutes. I’ve had some pretty good days. And that is just as true for 2020 as it was for 2010 or 2001 or any other year where horrible things happened whether to me personally or in the world.
In the midst of darkness, light persists.Mahatma Gandhi
Have horrible, terrible, no-good things happened in 2020? Absolutely.
At the top of that list for me is the loss of my beloved little dog. A loss that I continue to deeply grieve. If that wasn’t enough of a smack down, this year has brought a lot of other crap from fires, hurricanes, more fires, earthquakes, protests, deaths, a virus that has upended all of our lives, and the loss of two icons, true leaders and inspirations, Rep. Lewis and RGB.
That’s a lot to process in one year, and that isn’t even the entire list.
On the flip side, I have had some wonderful, amazing things happen in 2020. The year started with my awesome birthday trip to London with my BFF, where I got to meet in real life for the first time a dear friend and penpal. I also landed a fantastic new job that allowed me to move overseas (a life-long bucket list item). I live in a rather awesome apartment that has this incredible view of the ocean. And I’ve seen so many small acts kindness that remind me how awesome we can really be when we just take a moment.
Yes, I recognize that the good may seem small against the all the trauma and turmoil that has come to define 2020. That’s where I struggle—how to reconcile it all.
I think more than anything, what I’m really trying to deal with is all the emotion. Because 2020, more than almost any other year, has been an extremely emotional year. Emotions that have run fast and high. As an introvert and HSP, I have struggled with this roller coaster emotional journey more than having to adapt to a new normal of social distancing and travel bans. And as we move closer towards what is sure to be the most contentious U.S. election-cycle, I more and more want to hide in my blanket fort, surrounded by my books, and ignore the rest of the world.
But I can’t always do that.
Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.Desmond Tutu
Life moves forward whether we want it to or not. And I must also move forward, as must we all.
But I do think it is important to talk about what we feel. So I share a bit of my story, a bit of my conflict, a bit of my weird thought process about a weird year with you in hopes that if you feel lost or conflicted in this tumultuous time, you realize you are not alone. I think
many all of us are struggling in some way this year whether that struggle is evident or not.
And because I started this post with a kind of Harry Potter reference, I will end on a HP quote.
Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the lightDumbledore, Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
As September is, in the U.S., Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, let’s keep the dialogue going. Ask the person next to you how they really are doing. Share your feelings and your story. And please, ask for help if you’re struggling.
If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255), text NAMI to 741-741, or call 9-1-1 immediately. For a hotline number outside the U.S., please check here or call your local emergency services.