We don’t need to do a lot of chit chat here. Inspired by the great Pat Russo, here are 12 lessons I learned in 2020.
- You Can Run, But How Long Can You Hide?
For a long time, I tried to hide from myself and my true desires, so I went along with what I thought I was supposed to do. I did whatever felt less scary. Earlier in the year, I almost signed on a dotted line to do something I absolutely did not want to do. I thought I had no choice, I thought it was the best decision; I thought I had to suffer to find my way through.
Thankfully, Covid hit and I was given a little time to reassess. I made the decision to follow what I was feeling. It was time to run my own business. “See what’s on the other side,” were the words I heard every time I thought about how scary this decision was and at the end of 2020, I was still consistently running my own business and gaining new clients.
Some may wonder why it’s so hard for someone to simply be authentic. And to be honest, sometimes I wonder about it too.
What I do know is that you can run from your dream life and the things you say you want, but you may not be able to hide from who you are.
- Family Is A Necessity
I guess I already knew this about family. But in 2020 I learned more and more that they aren’t just here to be here — they are here for a reason. To be a shoulder to cry on. To remember past experiences. To love more. To laugh more. To dance. To experience. To be surrounded when you’d rather be alone. To feel good energy from. To understand that the world is vast and the people around you make you who you are and who you’ve always been.
Most of all, I learned family is simply here for me to have someone(s) to do life with. To annoy me, to experience joy and pain and irritation and anger but to also appreciate having voices in your corner when you need them most.
- It’s Ok To Trust People
This has been the hardest lesson of my life. Since I can remember it’s been hard for me to trust people and this year, it’s been nice to let go a little bit and just trust that they love me. Trust they’re trying their best and trust they want to be around me genuinely.
I also had to learn to trust people when they weren’t so good for me. I had to trust their actions and their patterns. I had to trust them when they showed me who they were and what they wanted from me.
I’ve learned it’s ok to trust people to love you but it’s also okay to trust people’s patterns and what they’ve shown you about how they feel and what they think. It’s okay to trust people — both when it helps and when it hurts.
- Dreams Come In Their Own Time
We’ve heard it several times from famous and successful people; timing is everything and your dreams come in time. While it’s widely known, it isn’t always easy to accept. I’ve written my dreams down for years. Halfway through the year, I completely forget all of them and start chasing new ones and then it feels forced so I stop and feel sorry for myself.
This year, old dreams came back to the surface and many of them came to fruition. I finally realized, these things will happen, they will just happen in time. Their own time.
It’s helped me calm down a little bit this year and take my time with things. I was trying so hard to make everything happen at one time because I was afraid I was short on time or missing out. Maybe I won’t see all of my dreams come to pass, and that’s ok; but rushing sucks; so I’m going to slow down, work hard, and give my dreams time to show up.
- It’s Perfectly Fine To Honor Both Sides
I am an extremely complex human being. I guess God made me like this but it hasn’t always been easy to accept all the oxymorons. In 2020, I decided to accept my complexity as a blessing and not something that needs to be fixed.
I have a business side and an artist side. I write and find my artist moments when I find my artist moments and when it’s time to be a business woman, I do that too. I enjoy laughing and talking with others but I really need my alone time to recharge. I love being outside in nature but I also like being hole’d up in small spaces by myself. I enjoy yoga and meditation but I also love a good twerk. I’m complex.
Some people don’t get it. Some people have asked me what I’m doing and why I don’t simply pick a lane — and I’ve tried. But the truth is, picking one thing is like choosing between sleep and a shower. Eventually, you’re going to have to do both. What I’ve concluded is that I have to find ways to weave them all in at their appropriate moments instead of trying to choose one. They’re all a part of me — what I’m learning is how to make it all work together.
- New Friends Are Cool, Old Friends Are Great
My friendships have strengthened this year. So much change. I’ve grown closer to some and farther away from others. And I love them both equally.
I have new friends who have come into my life the more I’ve found the authentic pieces of myself. I’ve found new friends who have affirmed those dark, weird places in me and called them beautiful.
Old friends play such a huge role too. They’ve known me for years and love me well. They love beyond my indiscretions and hangups and moments when we disagreed. They love me as me over time and there is almost nothing better than that.
- I Am Afraid Of What People Think
If I’m going to be honest about my lessons, I should be all the way honest. This isn’t a lesson I am proud of but it is a very real, and human lesson. I was hoping that I would be over this by the end of 2020, but I am slowly working my way out of it. I’d say I’m about 80% of the way there.
I am still 20% concerned with what people have to say about me, and what they think. I hate it. Since recognizing this a couple months ago, I have made some decisions to counteract the habit of trying to please people. And I’ve also told myself no in times when I was about to make a decision because I wanted someone to like me more or attach themselves to me in some way. That shits wack.
- I am the Mom Now.
My daughter lost several teeth in 2020. It’s like even her baby teeth were trying to get the fuck out of 2020. One night, my husband and I were sitting on the couch and she ran into the room frantic and crying.
I jumped up to see what was wrong but to be honest, in the back of my mind I was thinking “she’s probably being dramatic again.”– and she was, but this time it was warranted.
Apparently her brother had accidentally kicked her in the mouth and knocked one of her teeth loose. It was hanging by a thread and bleeding profusely. My entire energy changed as I moved towards her to help her while also trying really hard to keep her calm.
All I could think was “where’s my mom?! I need my mom!” and then I realized, “nah bit, you’re the mom now. “I handled it. Cleaned it up and then pulled her tooth out while my husband and I sang some hip hop rendition of a lullaby to distract her. We got it done. She now has ptsd and runs into the room several times a day thinking her tooth is bleeding — but we handled it. I’m the mom now. I handle the hard stuff.
- Honor Your Truth
I was sitting in my little room (more on that later) one morning writing my morning pages when I slipped into a daydream of me writing a column.
Due to my complexity, I spent a good part of this year trying to pursue other types of writing and creative pursuits. Screenwriting, business writing, leading course and mastermind groups, building a product based business; so many things.
It’s literally taken me an entire year to realize that my true dream has never changed. I’ve wanted to write for a magazine or online column for years and that’s always been the vision. When I returned home to it, I realized, it’s the fear of making this happen that has held me back. And also, the perception of those around me. Or rather, (as my therapist would put it) me putting other people’s opinions on a pedestal. Smh.
- It’s Ok To Like White Women
This is a weird lesson, but I’m weird so it’s on brand.
I hang around a lot of HBCU people and black on black on black people who love black people and want everything to be black, look black, and sound black.
I have no objections. Black people are dope af.
BUT black people aren’t the only people on earth worth loving and building relationships with. I love white women (except those girls who gave me a low score in my grad school group project; they’re wack af — foreal). I have a few friends who I genuinely love hanging out with and talking to. I trust them with my thoughts and feelings. I trust them with my heart and my friendship and there is nothing wrong with that. And that isn’t a declaration to anyone else, it’s me, telling me, that it’s ok.
- Saying No Is Necessary
An extension of the people pleasing thing. I learned this year that not only can I tell people no, it is necessary for me to do so. I have to tell people no sometimes to fulfill the vision of my life. It just is what it is and it’s a beautiful lesson to learn. I am not mean when I say no or crazy or any other negative attribute I’ve attached to the word no. I’m just living my life the most authentically I can and if no is appropriate, no it is.
- Life Is Whatever You Decide
What a generic 12th lesson of 2020 but a very very true one for me. Life is not really about circumstance or any of the other shit. It will be whatever you choose for it to be. I’ve learned that getting up everyday around 5/5:30am to write and meditate is one of the only things that keeps me sane.
I’ve learned that when I say no to my work to play with my kids, I have to make that work up later. I’ve learned that when I take a break from my work to hang out with my family and then come back to it, I feel better sometimes. When I force myself to find a solution to something and the solution hasn’t come to me yet, I give myself a headache.
When I need time away, I should take time away. When i need to connect with my husband, I should connect with my husband. When I really want to get my nails done, I should go.
Life is about choices. What you decide every second, every day, every week, or every month will make up your year, then years, then life. It’s never too late to start deciding what to do with your life. It’s not too early to dream big. It’s not too late to change the direction of your day. It’s not too late to make decisions that make you happy. Life is truly what you want it to be.
The “I can’ts” and “I should’s” and “I shouldn’ts” are all up to you and the direction you desire for your life to go in. It is all up to you. Scary, yea? But Also, very cool.
2020 was a difficult, beautiful and heart changing year. For many reasons. But in all, I learned a lot of lessons, laughed a lot, came closer to being my authentic self, loved my man harder, made money, bought new clothes, enjoyed the sunshine, gained friends, and a whole lot of other shit in between. 2020 was not a waste; but a beautiful blessing in disguise for many of us– including me. Thank you God for the years behind and ahead and please, keep us covered and sane as we embark on a new one.