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  • Writer's pictureJess D

5 Things 2020 Taught Me: A Reflection

Updated: Feb 19, 2022

2020 was a trying year for all of us. This year has shed a light on what life really has in store as well as what needs to come in order for us to come together as a society, regardless of where you’re from, to do what’s right for the collective (not pointing fingers anywhere). For me, 2020 has been very lucky as that I experienced minimal trials and have been living a pretty normal life out in Shanghai, China. 2020 has made me question what exactly I want from my life as well as what path I should take in order to make my life the vision of what I’ve always imagined it being.

I decided to reflect on what things I learned during this year and the lessons that many of us can take for what is to come in 2021, be it good or bad. Maybe some of these things apply to you or maybe you can take some of the lessons I’ve learned and apply it to aspects of your life as you feel fit. Anyway, here are the five things 2020 taught me!

1. Appreciate the things you have and the people in your life when they’re there

I was lucky enough to see my family before returning back to China and before the border lockdown, where foreigners were not able to come in (and leave kind of, as that flights were cancelled all the time). As much as I argue with my mom about little things and as much as my sister annoys me with her being right (sometimes), I always love being home. The plan before coronavirus affected the whole world was to return back to the states after my work contract ended and basically renew my life (living in Shanghai almost doesn’t seem real sometimes). When coronavirus finally hit the States, I was lucky enough to be in China and have a job, a home with my dog, and no worries about what was to come.

Prior to this realization, I was complaining about my job and my life a bit, not realizing that I have the security that some people wish they had and are making the necessary steps to the life I want. All in all, I’m happy that I was able to be around my family, but it stinks not having the opportunity to see them for the holiday season. I know that when things finally clear up and we’re all able to travel again, I am going to really cherish the time spent with my family. I will also appreciate the fact that my life is stable, and I have the things I need and more.

2. Be financially smart, but chasing more money won’t necessarily make you happy

I honestly struggle with direction and knowing what I truly want but also, I see the that other people are doing the things I want to do. I’ve had this thing where I’ve always chased security and made excuses about why I can’t go for my dreams. Every time I’ve been put on the path of security, I end up working in a position that is okay at the beginning but then I realize that I hate what I’m doing. I end up extremely sad, sick, and not wanting to get out of bed in the morning (I know this is a reoccurring theme for many of us). I kind of feel that this is the life I’m supposed to lead, and it makes me feel that none of my dreams and goals will ever come true. As I’m realizing these things about myself and making excuse after excuse about why I don’t deserve the things I want, I see many of my friends and other people around me do the things they set out to do, struggle, but overcome.

This year, I finally realize that this path of security always ends up the same, despite how much money I make. Unless I’m doing something I really enjoy doing, I will always feel unfulfilled. This is not to say I don’t appreciate my work, but I know it doesn’t lead where I want to be. In 2021, I want to lean into the skills I know I have and go on a path that I haven’t been on. I know it will be a struggle, but it’s worth a try. If worse comes to worst, at least I tried and I can do something else.

3. You deserve to be talked to and treated nicely

I’ve always been the person that wanted to be like and because of that, I’ve let people talk to me any which way and completely allow myself to be disrespected by anyone who felt they could. Sometimes, it would be people I would want in my “circle of friends” or someone I found really attractive. Not considering all the things and the people who liked me for the person I am, I would try and try to be liked only to be ignored or just dropped all together. This year I’ve considered that the people who like you will stay around you. You don’t have to fight for them to stay in your life. Especially if it’s someone who you want to consider a significant other.

I’ve also learned this year that people should respect your time and boundaries, and although being forgiving once or twice (with good reason) is okay, people will only treat you in the way you allow them to treat you. Me personally, I’m the forgiving type but after a second time (should really be after a first, but I’m still learning and growing), I just stop communicating with you. This isn’t directed towards my friends who have moved away from Shanghai (I’m sorry. I promise I’ll be more communicative in the months to come), it’s more so about people I’ve dated and “friends” who just use your kindness to advance their own things. I am learning and within the next year, I will learn how to respect myself even more and garner the respect I deserve from others

4. Patience but persistence is everything

With me getting my purple belt this year, I really feel that my hard work has paid off. There was a few times that I wanted to quit. Especially when I saw many of my friends getting promoted and get better. I put much of my training time into perspective and realized that although I love jiu-jitsu, there are many other things that need my attention including my job, Zumba, my blog, my personal life, rest, and recuperation. I know that my jiu-jitsu path is my own and the pace that I take is my own. As long as I don’t quit, I know that I will learn and grow in the way that I need to learn and grow.

In life, all the things that I want to do are there. There is no time limit to doing what I want to do (to an extent). Everything I want to achieve will be achieved. But I have to consider my time and energy. Instead of trying to do a bunch of stuff at once, I have to just do things little by little but consistently (including keeping up with my blog posts) in 2021.

5. Take your L’s gracefully, and do better next time

I will make a video exploring this concept later but the main thing I want to gloss over is my wanting to come out the victor in every aspect of my life and you know what, sometimes you just don’t, won’t, or can’t win. It sounds depressing but sometimes your losses make way for the biggest wins (I hope). This was evident in my dating life and opportunities that weren’t really right for me. Also, to make it BJJ related, sometimes even if you think you have the upper hand or an awesome game plan during a roll, sometimes it doesn’t work and you gotta readjust on the spot or just admit defeat. I think in these “losses” are just making a path for something better to come along and instead of being the person who is bitter and makes up reasons why it didn’t work or try to hurt someone to try and reclaim that loss, it’s good to take that L and just move on. I definitely noticed in this year that I’ve been taking L’s like a G instead of being a B, because I know what is meant for me will come. F all the rest.

Of course, every day I learn something new, but these are themes I noticed that popped up in my life quite often this year. We all get better every year and I hope that the lessons I’ve learned will help me achieve more in 2021 and that it will be a better, more positive year for all of us. Did some of these lessons resonate with you? What lessons did you learn in 2020 and how will you readjust in 2021?


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