2020 was hard. You know this already. You lived it, too.
How it was hard or how hard it was is a different story to tell, person to person. I do think it’s safe to say, most of us experienced loss. Loss of the life of someone they love, loss of connection to the people they love and rely on for support, loss of financial security, loss of belief in the goodness of humanity, loss of relationships based on discoveries the clarity of 2020 shed for us all. The list goes on but the point of this post is not to harp on the negative. My intention of sharing just a handful of examples of how any one of us may have experienced loss last year is to merely validate whatever feelings you felt in 2020 and may still be feeling because despite the calendar year changing, the pandemic ain’t over yet. I simply want to acknowledge that and let you know, I see you.
With all the posts about gratitude swimming around the internet right now, I want you know that it’s okay if you don’t feel okay just because it’s 2021 now. It’s also okay if the way you experienced 2020 was different from someone else’s. Perspective is powerful and it’s important to maintain but don’t write off your feelings because “it could’ve been worse”. Maybe it wasn’t worse but it was what it was for you in your life and that’s real and valid. It’s all relative.
There’s a season of trauma porn running rampant on the internet. People have declared themselves sick of false projections of perfection on social media so now we seem to have traded it in for the extreme opposite.
Whoever’s got the most heartbreaking horror story to tell gets the most attention, compassion and let’s be totally transparent for a moment, likes. Don’t get me wrong. To those brave enough to share their trauma on social media in hopes of letting another person suffering know they’re not alone, I salute you because that’s fucking hard to do and it makes a world of difference to someone in need. It’s not the sharing I take issue with, it’s the lack of representation or consideration for everything in between. To those who’ve struggled silently with the emotional toll of 2020 without some big newsworthy story to share, I see you, too.
This year nearly broke me. A couple times, if I’m honest. Nothing newsworthy or dramatic happened but it was a hard fucking year and some moments shook me to my core.
I was blessed in many ways and that’s incredibly important to acknowledge so let me start there. My family members have remained safe and healthy, that’s the biggest blessing by far. While I haven’t seen any family in a year, I have the privilege of knowing they’re all still there to see again when it’s safe to do so. That wonderful and lucky fact however, hasn’t negated the fact that I miss them a lot and it’s been hard doing life without them to physically be there to help us and connect with us as a family.
In a year, my daughter went from being a teetering baby with hardly any hair who couldn’t say more than “mama” and “dada” to a full blown kid who runs around, singing and yammering away all day long. Not a single family member has gotten to witness or experience the incredible person she’s blossomed into because FaceTime is great but it’s not the same and it breaks my heart. In moments of sadness, I tell myself that my husband and I get the privilege of being the only two people on the planet that have gotten to have this time with her. We’re the only people in the world who actually know our daughter and that’s special. Special and so sad. My heart breaks for her grandmas who would give anything to know this beautiful human but don’t because they can’t. We also left the life we’d built for over a decade behind and moved to a state where we don’t really know anyone in search of a better quality of life for our daughter. So there’s that. No nanny, friend or family member to help us with any step of that insanely overwhelming process but we did the damn thing. It was hard as hell and we’re immensely proud of our little trio for pulling it off but damn, we’re tired.
I’m self-employed as a content creator so I didn’t have a job to lose, which is another blessing I don’t take lightly. But being self-employed always presents the challenge of the eternal hustle and 2020 was particularly difficult. Brands, whose partnerships I rely on for the income to continue creating what I create for free for my audience week in and week out, have pivoted several times throughout 2020. This was a great learning curve for us all in the content creation space to diversify our revenue streams but creating different revenue streams isn’t a quick or easy thing to do. It takes time to cultivate and that’s something I’ll be focusing more energy on as a businesswoman in 2021. The pressure of providing for another person amplifies any lows on the financial rollercoaster that self-employment can be. My daughter deserves the best, right? The blessing in disguise of this particular challenge has been realizing that as long as her basic needs are covered, the best for her is actually just providing all the things that money can’t buy. My 2-year-old doesn’t thrive off of expensive furniture, name brand shoes or bougie food. She needs love and laughter and simply knowing that we are there to support her, keep her safe and make her feel better when she’s frustrated or hurt. Joy isn’t complicated and it doesn’t cost a penny.
I’m also someone that is on a constant quest for self-betterment but for years, I’ve focused that energy on success. This year, the world stopped. The ladders we all relentlessly push to clamber up, toppled right over and it shone a big, giant spotlight on areas in our lives where we may be lacking as human people on level ground. I took it all on. It was a beautiful, gut-churning process of diving deep into my soul with a magnifying glass and unpacking a lot of subconscious or intentionally pushed aside baggage. I learned a lot about the person I’ve been, the person I am and the person I want to become. This will be a lifelong process and I haven’t touched the tip of the iceberg but I’ve seen the iceberg I want to climb now and it certainly ain’t a social or career ladder anymore. A girl’s still gotta eat and feed her family so earning a living will of course remain a priority but I plan to let my passion and purpose drive how I earn that living with my integrity and values firmly in tact every step of the way. Progress in getting closer to the life goals I had before this year felt completely unsatisfying and now I understand why. The things I was reaching for would never ultimately fulfill me so I’d never be content. I’d have probably spent my life climbing into that abyss never feeling good enough because achieving those goals wouldn’t make me feel like a person I was proud to be. In reality, those goals would only make me the person I thought others would want to see me be. You know the one… successful, valuable, a real winner! Well, fuck that.
I want to be a person that I’m proud of and I can honestly say, I already am. I still have plenty of growing, learning and expanding to do and I have many goals not yet in my reach but I’m happy with who I am and what I have in my life today.
I’m proud of myself and fuck me, you wouldn’t have caught me saying that before this year so thanks for not breaking me, despite your best efforts 2020. Your attempts made me a hell of a lot stronger. So this year, let’s start it off right together and get ready to have the best 365 days yet! Sign up for my Go Your Own Way Program, 12 days of emails from me that will help you to be grateful for what you already have and manifest what you want for your future. This year will not break us!
Shenae Grimes-Beech is an actor and YouTuber with a highly engaged community of like-minded women who are here to stand up for what they believe in and lean into discomfort, especially when it means doing the right thing.