Everyone has been saying the words, “Death to 2020,” and while I agree that 2020 was one of the most trying years of my existence yet, it was also the year that I grew the most.
It’s one of those years where I look back and say, “I learned so much, let’s not make the same mistakes again.”
It’s one of those years where I look back and say, “You survived. You strived. You thrived.” (Thanks Chris.)
Despite the horrendous things that have transpired, there is so much we can take from it rather than chopping it up to a period of time never to be remembered while we move on towards what is to come in 2021.
Because the reality is, when the clock strikes midnight, nothing will really change. We’ll still be staying at home. We’ll still be concerned about finances and job security. We’ll still be struggling with mental health. We’ll still be fighting against equality. We’ll still be faced with the same hardships we had on December 31, 2020 as we will on January 1, 2021.
That’s why perspective is key. Taking the beautiful from the shitty.
So, 2020 in a nutshell for me looked something like this…
I lived in a terrible apartment with no heat or hot water after my ex fled the country to escape me while in a relationship I jumped into far too quickly. (Really off to a bangin’ start, huh Lauren?)
I hiked a lot to get myself through the winter months and even had a friend from Florida come to visit me.
I worked at a nonprofit organization that had been taking a toll on my sanity for quite some time which I discovered through countless hours of therapy.
I went bouldering for the first time at Garden of the Gods.
I witnessed a video I helped create on the jumbo screens of the annual gala in front of hundreds of people – while our new CEO said some rather racially controversial things leaving us all in a shock.
I mourned all of my many losses in life. I mean, I really mourned. Like scary mourned.
I discovered the realities of COVID while drunk as a skunk meandering through the streets of New Orleans, flying back to the stay-at-home orders.
My sanity began to slip, causing me to relapse into my eating disorders and began smoking again while hiding it from everyone I knew.
I became incredibly suicidal, in fear of taking my own life.
I sold and donated everything I owned and moved into a new apartment for a fresh start, even amidst a global pandemic.
I came down with what sounded like COVID, but never got tested because it wouldn’t have made a difference either way. So instead I quarantined myself for almost a month.
I ended my relationship which honestly I jumped into far too soon. I simply wasn’t ready.
My mother had a cancer scare, which thankfully turned out to be benign.
I became incredibly depressed and decided that the only way for me to take charge of my life was to come clean about my eating disorder with not only my loved ones, but with the entire world.
I wrote a song called, “You Are Not Alone,” in hopes to bring a glimmer of hope to those who were suffering like me.
I met my neighbor who became an advocate for me as a writer, a person of value, and my living, breathing sounding board. He changed my life forever.
I turned 30 and started writing my first book.
I slaved over my job now that everyone was working from home, working 10+ hour days trying to prove my worth and value as everyone around me was losing their jobs.
I came to the realization that my job didn’t care about my mental health, only belittled it with condescending words that can never be taken back, in turn, losing my job to COVID.
I continued working on my book and sharing my experiences with mental health on my blog and social media.
My beautiful and dear friend took me on a last minute escape to Deer Valley, Utah to celebrate our new found freedom in life, and to figuring out what would come next.
I returned home from the trip to rioters lighting dumpsters on fire, men and women crying in the streets, windows of buildings shattered, and all of Denver completely heartbroken.
I marched alongside in solidarity throughout the city for two weeks after the murder of George Floyd. (Say their names -> Since the murder of George Floyd, there have been 11 more deaths, or at least that we know of. See the full list here).
I went on my first solo camping trip with Luna where I finally said the words out loud that freed me from the darkest parts of my life.
I met my partner in crime at the right time in my life when I was actually ready to be in a relationship, adding so much color, flavor, and joy into the life recipe I was creating for myself.
I went mining for turquoise for the first time and learned how to love and appreciate mother earth in a way I’d never experienced before.
I camped, oh boy did I camp. I took advantage of the weather and my beautiful state of Colorado to the best of my ability.
I flew to Boston to see my best friend and sister parading around the beach as much as possible since it had been almost a year since I’d felt the ocean.
I did the photoshoot for the cover of my first novel!!
I celebrated my first Thanksgiving with my new, chosen family.
I finished editing my book and hired an editor (because I am so legit)
I finished the cover of my book (you have no idea how much anxiety this caused me)
I celebrated my first Christmas in my new home, in with my new family, in my new life while we reflected on the moments that created this insanely packed year.
Tonight, the clock will strike midnight and the world will still be the same, but the future doesn’t have to be. We have done some terrible things and we have fought hard to make them better.
I didn’t want to focus this list on COVID, but rather the events that made an impact towards my recovery, my journey of self-love, and the growth I’ve seen within myself. And sure, there has been a shit ton more that has transpired in the last 365 days, but the list would never end if I did that.
2021 will be a continuation of the fight. It will be a stream that flows into the ocean of perseverance, compassion, equality, and love. It will be a year where I can finally say to myself after 30 years, I am an author, a happiness seeker, a human being who loves harder than I’ve ever loved before. I am me.
Meet the Author
Hey, I’m Lauren Dow. Author, advocate, and feeler of the big feels. I’m here to provide a safe space to normalize the conversation about mental health and reinforce self-love. Thanks for joining me on this wild ride.