2020 Blogging Lessons Pandemic Thoughts Writing Year in Review

What Has 2020 Taught Me?

Written By:  Preston A. Thompson

Edited By:  Preston Thompson

               If you are reading this then Happy New Year 2021 (now Happy New Year 2022)!  We survived the apocalypse of 2020 and stepped into 2021 with new expectations and determination (and we are still in the apocalypse today). 2020 came with the four horsemen.  Famine came in the form of job closures and layoffs.  We even learned a new word, furlough.  We did have that scare of a food shortage, but not as big as the toilet tissue and Lysol shortage.  Pestilence came in the form of 17-year locusts and murder hornets.  Disease, no surprise here, came with the biggest blow to our 2020 social lives in the form of COVID-19, aka the Coronavirus and “The Rona!”  Lastly, let’s not talk about the last one, but let’s just say every day the coronavirus took a major toll on our lives.

               Despite all the chaos 2020 was a very manageable year.  The government having to step in to help families financially through unemployment and forbearances have been one of many topics to explain 2020. Sure, we could not travel much thanks to travel restrictions and bans, but it did teach me some valuable lessons that I hope to take with me once this pandemic is over.  Here are just a few:

1) I really do have food at home:

               I must confess I love to try different restaurants.  When I do not feel like cooking, I will go to a fast-food or regular restaurant with no hesitation.  Years ago, I made it a habit to try a different restaurant when traveling to a different town or city. Just about every date night with my wife consisted of going out to eat.  Now that I think about it if I was not eating out once a day it was probably 3 to 4 times a week.  Meanwhile we still spent money on groceries for it to expire in a week or so.

               When COVID-19 forced shutdowns globally, the same restaurants that I loved had government-forced shutdowns or limited capacity, so now this forced us into cooking more at home.  Yes, there are delivery services, but this part-time introvert really misses the experience of eating inside a restaurant. Regarding cooking at home, I sometimes enjoy it even though my wife is better at it.  I have become creative in the kitchen and on the grill (air fryer, too).  Just thinking about it, lunch breaks at work consisted of trips to fast-food restaurants in the area.  Although this is good for those businesses, bringing food from home did keep money in my pocket.

2) I spent a lot of money on leisure activities:

               A $20 to $75 gym membership, over $100 for a personal trainer, tickets and food at the movies, drinks at the bar, the gas put in my car to go extra places, just to name a few, all added up with each swipe of the card.  The funny thing is I had things at home that could have saved me time and money, but by habit I did additional spending for these events.  It makes sense why I worked plenty of overtime hours to support my lifestyle.

3) My job cutting overtime for a period of time made me realize how valuable work-life balance really is:

               Jobs in America hit the panic button when COVID cases went up.  At my job separating shifts and pausing overtime became the new norm.  Before the pandemic overtime was a choice.  If you wanted it, you could do it if the work was available.

               When overtime was cut, I had more time at home to enjoy myself, wife, fitness, and other activities.  I did not feel like I was coming home just to eat, squeeze in an exercise, and go to bed just to repeat the cycle Monday through Friday.  Sure, I miss the overtime money, but time at home is more valuable because one day I will look back and wish I had it in my youth.  My work-life balance has been the best since the start of this pandemic, I hope to continue it when it is over.

4) I am more of an introvert than I thought:

               I have always called myself an introvert, but I still went out when invited.  Sometimes before going out a part of me would hope plans got cancelled so I can stay in and play video games or watch TV.  On the other hand, I would also get upset if plans did get cancelled because I was really looking forward to going out (it’s hard to explain).  When the shutdown happened, I was prepared for a moment like this.  I get pleasure in being home watching Netflix and being away from people not including my wife.  Plans cannot get cancelled during a pandemic when following the “guidelines,” because safety was my top priority in 2020.

               Reading has become a big part of my quarantine life at home.  To keep the mind strong reading works your brain and improves memory.  Think of it like a book being weights at the fitness center and your brain are your body muscles (although there are articles out there that says your brain really is not a muscle but needs to be treated like one). Before Covid I can honestly admit a busy life and weekends filled with activities would push reading to the side.  I would start a book then finish it in a month or longer.  The reason is without school putting a time limit on when I need to finish the book, I would start reading a chapter then put the book down for a couple of days before picking it up again.  Now, I find myself reading just like I did in grade school.  When I am done, I begin reading the next book.

               Video gaming has always been a part of my life.  Since my mom first bought me a Super Nintendo with Super Mario World, I have been a gamer ever since.  Even into my adult life, video games have been there for me as a leisure and competitive online play.  I was sure by a certain age I would stop playing video games.  I tried to give them up when I first got my real job outside of college, but two weeks later, I found myself back into gaming and have been there since.  This hobby may follow me into my senior years, and I am cool with that. As an introvert, I get a little joy playing my favorite games to pass the time on a Friday night, and while COVID is going on, I can play games online to fill in for the missing social part of life.

               My music consumption has increased drastically during this pandemic.  Hip Hop, R&B, Gospel, Pop (sometimes), a little Country, and others have been a part of my life since birth.  When my grandfather gave me a portable radio with headphones as a child, you can say I have been an audiophile ever since.  I have gone through my fair share of portable radio, tape, and CD players over the years. Then I moved on to the iPod then smartphones.  I have also had my fair share of headphones and earphones during these times.  As music moved from CDs to Pandora to now streaming services like Apple Music my consumption of music have increased to countless hours.  It is no surprise my Apple Replay 2020 said I have listened to over 1,000 hours of music.

5) Black businesses really need our love and support:

               Large corporations will be alright during the pandemic; however, we really need to help our fellow black businesses.  Maybe we are not all moving to Atlanta but supporting your local black business can help rebuild the New Black Wallstreet.  For many of us we are trying to break generational curses of debt.  With pay rates remaining the same and rising prices of goods, we must support our own while we can.  The side hustlers who no longer want to wait on the next promotion that may never happen or rightful raise that is more than a quarter an hour from the previous year need your support. It does not take much to put your money to a growing business from black entrepreneurs.  Google is here to locate black businesses in our area. Whether it is through listening to our friend’s podcast or reading their blogs, buying from their restaurants, purchasing a bar of soap, now is the best time to show your support and stand with us now.

6) I am essential even if the work I do isn’t:

               Who’s an essential worker and who’s not? Whose job made money from leisure and whose job is important during this pandemic? You see, job closures have been a pandemic before the COVID pandemic. Large corporations opened one too many facilities, and when the customer’s taste changed, the money shifted. This resulted in these corporations downsizing to meet the financial demands of their annual reports. On the other hand, some small businesses do not have the strong financial support of the community like others do. This makes it hard for a small business owner to maintain the business and results in tough decisions about the future of his or her business. As the pandemic progressed, the healthcare industry had become too essential. The problem with that is as more people fill up the emergency rooms with COVID-like symptoms, the amount of healthcare workers available do not meet the demand. This put added stress on the workers because they must serve the public before they can take care of themselves. And I forgot, just because there is a COVID pandemic, it does not mean other health problems have disappeared.

               Whether you are furloughed or working too many hours, just know that you are essential, and no one can change that. Your life is more important than any job. Sure, you want more, that’s the human in us, but you are essential even without the recognition.

7) The internet really is powerful and essential:

               I know computers and the internet began to take over the world before the new millennium, but in 2020 we really needed the internet more than ever! How could quarantine life survive without the internet? For starters TV streaming services like Netflix, HBO Max, Disney Plus, Hulu, and others were the real MVPs of quarantine life! I finally had the time to watch shows while working less overtime and having the free time from home to do so. Even as a worker who did not have work from home as an option, work-related communication such as meetings were done through Microsoft Teams. Just think about the schools and how learning moved from the classrooms to remote learning from home through Zoom. Speaking of Zoom, I cannot recall how many family and friend events I attended at home through the app that would normally be done in person.

And I cannot forget about curbside pickup. At first when stores began to encourage it to reduce the amount of people coming into the store, I thought it was a little annoying. I was not the biggest fan of using store apps other than Amazon to place orders for the things I needed. I thought it was time consuming having to search for items then placing an order in the virtual cart then going through the payment method from an app. Then, once the order was placed and payment processed, having to use the app again at the parking spot felt like it took longer than going into the store and getting what you wanted. What was even more annoying was missing or the wrong items that was not caught by the employee. As I used curbside pickup more, it grew on me. I saw the potential behind it especially knowing that I was safe with contactless pickup. Fast forward to today, it is my preferred method of buying from stores.

               2020 had me thinking what this pandemic would be like if the internet was never invented? For starters work from home would probably be impossible. Staying up-to-date on the latest changes in the community due to COVID would take longer to communicate to the public. And I am sure cases would be higher than what they are today because social distancing would be almost impossible when we still need to go inside places for the things we need. Before the pandemic, experts spent a lot of time trying to prove how the internet is ruining our brains and making us more socially disconnected from human interaction due to the high number of hours consumed online. After the pandemic, these same experts did not complain that much as they, too, had to rely on the internet like everyone else. In 2020 the internet really became the unsung essential hero of quarantine life.

8) Some people just do not care:

               I get it.  We have been trapped in the house all 2020.  We can’t go out, work can be work from home, and wear a mask when we do go out. Some businesses will not serve us if we refuse to follow their mask policy. We have been in quarantined for months hoping the pandemic ends so we can get our pre-pandemic lives back.  We are prisoners in our own homes, and we need to be around people.  It is our right. 

Despite all the warnings the CDC passed about COVID and how herd immunity could have possibly ended the pandemic before the discovery of a vaccine, some people just do not care.  Why?  There can be numerous reasons, but I strongly believe it is because no one close to them have contracted COVID. You see the number of cases reported online every day, but whether you want to believe it or not, if it has not happened to you or anyone you know personally, then you feel comfortable being around people mask or no mask. You feel safe to be around others with no mask and being in close contact.  I log onto social media and see large gatherings in close places where some wear a mask and others are not (I am starting to sound like the experts you see on the news every day).  While you are having fun, your healthcare workers are shaking their heads thinking about how full the hospitals are going to be in the coming weeks. It is your American right to go as you please, but until this pandemic is over, please consider the people who maybe the most affected.

9) Work towards your goals:

               2020 brought out the hustler in many of us.  We started investing when stock prices were low at the start of the pandemic.  Others started school after putting it off for years.  Some took their talents and turned it into a second source of income.  No matter how crazy our dreams sound at first, we moved them from ideas to action.  Even if you fail, continue to work towards your goals or find new ones and work towards them.  Remember, ideas first appear ugly, but once they manifest, they become beautiful creations.

10) Reconnect with your family and friends:

               Life is short.  You can be here today and gone tomorrow.  For those following the expert’s suggestions about social distancing then you probably have not been around people other than those who live with you.  A visit here or there, but not to the extent of where it was before.  If you have been living and working from home since this pandemic, then the stress of being in the same spot for months may be kicking in.

               Now would be the perfect time to reconnect with your family and friends by some app like Facetime, or in-person remembering to social distance with a mask on.  Hearing from the people you value most can give new hope that we will overcome this pandemic and celebrate, mask off.  Call a loved one whom you have not spoken with in a while and see where the relationship goes.  If you are holding a grudge against someone, try to free your mind from it and find a way to let it go the best way you can so you can move on with your life.

11) We will overcome the COVID pandemic:

We have lost so many people to COVID. Let’s help each other by doing what’s right for your own soul, and for the people you love.  Trust the experts who are working hard trying to find a cure for this virus. Remember, they are humans just like you and me. They do not have all the answers because COVID-19 is new and mutating. Sure, it may have been around before 2020, but the virus seems to bring out different symptoms in those who tested positive and are fighting it. With so much uncertainty, our healthcare experts keep studying this virus challenging what they know about the symptoms and are searching for answers when new symptoms are present. It is not like the common flu where frequent symptoms show up in those infected. This means if the virus is here mutating our healthcare experts are stressing and working tirelessly just to understand it. At this point they are giving their best educated guesses.

The truth of it all is we will overcome the COVID pandemic. It may not happen overnight, but humanity has a history of prevailing. Humans have survived and adapted to changes for centuries. Whether it was caused by our own doings or by something greater than ourselves, the fact is we are still here and standing tall. Look around you. The Sun is shining even through the clouds and night sky. You are winning more small victories than you can imagine. That’s why we are still here. I hope this serves as hope to those who are living in pandemic fear. Take care of each other, but most importantly, take care of yourself.