Wouldn’t it be glorious if the end of 2020 marked a close to COVID, election stressors, racial and gender inequities and a huge economic downturn? While we carry too much of this (and any) baggage forward into a new year, we do also have the opportunity to drop off a few routines and ways of living we no longer need, and hold on tighter to the stuff that we now know really serves us.
Some of us don’t feel the need to ever squirm into snug jeans again. Others have reassessed relationships, or how committed we are to the jobs we log on to every day. Konmari-ing the clutter from the kids’ rooms may have never felt so cathartic. And some of us may have used the time to finally unsubscribe from the hundreds of sales emails and newsletters we never read.
What will you let go?
What we release can be internal as well. The Mom Project community member Emily S. shared with us on Instagram that she’s letting go of trying to know everything.
“I’m unlearning to provide answers,” she wrote. “So much wisdom lies in questions.”
My own neighbor confided in me that she’s opting out of having a perfectly clean home. It’s not the time it takes or the stuff, she said. Instead, she feels power in saying farewell to the pressure to be a pristine housekeeper on top of all the other demands of motherhood and her career and tending to her aging parents.
One of our commenters sees this as a way to say no thanks to external pressures and embrace who she really is: “I am unlearning what society deems ‘success’ and ‘perfection’ and letting go of all the trappings. Enjoy the little things and be boldly you!” Niki C. shared.
What will you hold on to?
We may also be learning to accept the complexity that COVID-era living has revealed. Having kids at home for remote learning can be overwhelming, and also a welcome opportunity to fall into a heap on the couch together without the pull to go to soccer practice and piano lessons and playdates. We can miss our friends and Pilates class terribly, and also love the quiet space to meditate or learn to crochet. Sussing out what serves us well could be the roadmap forward.
What will you commit to?
From pants that button to perfectionism, the real power of what we lose or carry, unlearn or master in 2021 comes from the intention and choice. As one of our community members Bozhena A. wisely wrote, ”We are not meant to get to the finish line unscarred, clean and bored.”
Resources for a stronger, happier and healthier new year
Here are some of our favorite resources for continuing your own unlearning, unpacking and recalibrating of 2020-ing.
If it’s time to invite more laughter into your daily life, read R. Eric Thomas’s column in Elle, push play on the raunchy and hilarious stand-up by Michelle Buteau, or Mike Birbiglia’s less raunchy but still very funny show, The New One. Read everything byJenny Lawson, who creates community, hope, and big laughs by talking honestly about mental health challenges.
With some reflection, honesty and possibly dirty kitchen countertops, we might just go into the new year stronger, happier and more ourselves.
Jessica Ashley is a writer, content strategist, and coach whose life’s work (paid, unpaid, and in endless school board meetings) is focused on empowering women through tough transitions with creativity, grace and maybe some cussing.