I thought 2016 was a bad year. Then 2020 said, “Hold my fruit-flavored hard seltzer.” (Remember when that was going to be 2020’s big thing and not face masks?) Every indication shows that the second half of 2020 will be worse. (We have a presidential election coming up in the United States that will be, well, interesting.) How do we get through the next six months?
One of the lessons I learned from 2016 is that hard times can be productive times. In 2016, I wrote two novels, including my first novel selected by a publisher, Amiga. I found writing therapeutic, and it gave me an outlet to process the issues I faced.
Challenges force us to innovate. Since the quarantine started, I’ve been cooking more, and we’ve been shopping less. I have more time to read and find ways to promote my writing. Working from home has made me more productive in my job. Eliminating the daily commute saves me 40 minutes each day. I can focus on tasks with fewer interruptions. It has also helped my weight reduction efforts by not getting invited to office parties and being tempted by the goodies people leave on their desk.
What I’ve learned from past bad years is to embrace challenge. After you get through the initial shock, you find ways to adapt. As you make necessary changes, you soon discover how what you considered normal was limiting you. We need to be shaken up from time to time. We need to tear down what is no longer working, face hard truths about ourselves and our world, and make space for something new and better. That’s why I’ve found that even my hardest years could be among the best years of my life.
It’s also important to look ahead. What got me through my mom’s stroke was my goal of finishing college and starting a career. What got me through losing my job in 2003 was the belief that I would be able to find a new one. What got me through 2016 were all the other times I went through hardship and endured. Looking for that light at the end of the tunnel, however faint, can keep us going.
What’s getting me through 2020 are my weight-reduction goals, my book promotion efforts for Amiga with the hope I’ll again be able to participate in public events, my plans for selling The Remainders and writing new books, and enjoying time with my family. I’m also looking forward to the 5G iPhone, ARM MacBook Pro, and full-size The C64. (I know this sounds first-worldish, but treating yourself to some sort of reward for getting through a challenge can be motivating.)
If you are finding 2020 too painful and don’t know how you’ll get through it, seek help and find others who can support you. Look for anything you can do, no matter how small, that gives you a sense of control and accomplishment. Perhaps it’s doing a craft, volunteering for a food bank, or donating blood. Each small step you take will give you the confidence to move ahead.
The hard times I’ve endured in the past, the goals that keep me moving forward, and the small things all of us can do to give us a sense of progress, all give me faith that we will get through the months ahead. The first half of 2020 has been rough. The second half will probably be rougher. But we will get through this.