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What Surviving Health Challenges (and More) Taught Me About Myself

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Many are ready for the new year and to finally leave 2020 in the past. Many are ready to celebrate and party hard when the clock strikes midnight on the new year. It’s like waiting at the starting line for a race. When the whistle blows people are ready to sprint away and not look back.

I am not ready to just put 2020 behind me and leave it in the past. As much as last year truly sucked, it taught me more than the past 30 years of my life. I have grown and learned more about myself as a person than I ever thought imaginable.

This year I had surgeries 54 through 56, was sedated eight times for various procedures, my horse was injured twice, my dog needed surgery, I cared for a friend through death when hospice let her  down, lost another friend, lost a peer from the church I grew up in, I fought compassion fatigue, had a severe C-diff infection, failed two classes, lost three of my four sources of income, family members got COVID while another battled alcoholism/severe depression, I have made new friends, I’ve been so exhausted to the point I haven’t been able to get out of bed and found out that the first of the year would mean losing my established care team due to my insurance no longer caring for those professions.

A lot of crap has happened to me, and through it all I have learned that this year has made me more resilient than ever! I learned this year I am able to make it through tough/stressful times without falling back into self-destructive behaviors or negative coping skills. I learned to be OK with something that doesn’t turn out perfectly. I learned to let things just be instead of trying to fix what happened. Last year taught me to just be, and that it’s OK.

The isolation created by 2020 taught me that connection is a more important value than I originally thought. Being deprived of connection due to social distancing helped me realize how much I need it in order to thrive as a person and to be happy in everyday life. I also realized how much a consistent schedule helps me reduce stress. In the past I always struggled to see the good in things every time something unfortunate happened in my life. However, this past year I caught myself finding the good in the unfortunate times.

If you are one of those people who found yourself taking off at a sprint at the start of the new year in order to get away from 2020, I challenge you to stop for a moment and reflect on what you learned about yourself in 2020.

What 2020 taught me:

  • Resilience
  • Importance of connection
  • Being able to accept things that aren’t perfect
  • The importance of a schedule
  • That I am OK when things go wrong. Failing sometimes won’t hurt me.

What did 2020 teach you?

Getty image via Anastasiya Naletova

Originally published: January 13, 2021
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