To say 2020 was challenging is an understatement. We were bombarded with one thing after another: a pandemic, civil unrest, division in our country, a history-making election — and that’s on a larger scale. For some of us in the military, there were added challenges, such as deployments and moving.
All the challenges we face collectively and individually take a toll with many people living in a state of chronic stress and anxiety. At times, this can cause us to pull away from each other, perhaps thinking that no one could possibly understand everything we are going through. Perhaps we don’t listen to each other as we once did because tensions are high, and we are out of patience. This seems to have been a running theme of 2020.
Going into this new year, I am not setting lofty goals or making grand resolutions. Instead, I am attempting to take some time to reflect on the past year, how it impacted me and how I can respond differently in the face of trying times. Particularly, can I have more compassion and curiosity toward my fellow humans, even when we disagree? Can I offer more support to my fellow military family members? Will I ask for support from others when I need it? What behaviors helped me or didn’t in the last year and am I willing to get rid of the things that are not serving me well?
While this all sounds altruistic and seems packaged up nicely and tied with a bow, I am not that naive. I think we will be feeling the fallout of the last year for a long time to come, and as of writing this blog, I am not sure where things currently are in our country and our world. Yet, I want to go into 2021 with less stress, fear and bitterness. I want to be an active part of the healing we so desperately need. I want a personal “do-over.” I’m not saying everyone’s experiences were/are like mine or that anyone should agree with me. However, all of us have a chance to do this year differently in one particular way — to be a little kinder and more compassionate toward each other. My hope is that we all seize this opportunity.