LESSONS FOR A LIFETIME!
By Stephanie Barbee | Jan 25, 2021
It’s 2021! If you are reading this, you are someone who made it. Congratulations!
Whether you entered 2021 with compromised health issues, uncomfortable and unfamiliar feelings or with a few (or more than a few) extra pounds…so what?! Having breath flowing through your body means that you still have time to move forward.
2020 was full of events that were life-altering for many. The challenge is many people are resistant to change. And it makes sense. From a brain perspective, we hate change. Change equals danger to our brains. However, that belief does not make this true. 2020 contained some valuable lessons. Some of these lessons could have long-term positive impacts. Below are 3 lessons that have been themes for those around me. Of course, there are many others and I hope this list encourages you to think about 2020 not just with a heavy heart, rage, or exhaustion (although it is good to acknowledge all of that), but also with curiosity, love, and gratitude.
1). We all have things to unlearn. If 2020 was nothing else, it was eye-opening. Black people have been aware of the atrocities occurring in our communities, but NOW more of the world is aware. Even as Black people, we have to understand that white supremacy is insidious. It influences all areas of our life, seen and unseen, and we have to be extremely diligent in our pursuit of uprooting it. There have been many brilliant Blak and Brown people saying this for years and yet no one was listening as people listened in 2020. Be gentle with yourself, but know you cannot unknow what you learned in 2020. Anti-Black racism, white supremacy, misogyny, patriarchy, capitalism….it feels like a history lesson. However, it’s a lesson that has to be relearned because for most people these lessons were written and taught from a narrow, biased perspective (by design).
2). Mental health care should not be an option. The amount of mental health-related challenges in 2020 was heartbreaking. Healers were beyond extending themselves to try to meet the needs and many probably feel like they did not get to the tip of the iceberg. So many are struggling with trying to survive a pandemic while managing anxiety, depression, racial trauma, and so many other obstacles. And yet mental health care is still underutilized by Black people. You DESERVE to have space to let go. You deserve a space to unmask. You deserve a space to be enraged, frustrated, vulnerable, and to cry. Goodness knows not enough of those spaces exist for Black people in our community (for a lot of reasons that this post cannot address). However, it does not mean that we still should not seek out places and make our mental health a priority. Our thriving in the future depends on it.
3). Love still wins. Do you know what is more powerful than a pandemic? Love! Despite all the heaviness of 2020, love still prevailed. There have been communities coming together to support one another. There have been first responders giving of themselves endlessly. Despite their challenges, there have been teachers who have been fluid and flexible for our children. There have been drive-through celebrations and socially distanced weddings. There has been a rekindling of intimacy in relationships and families. There has been a renewed appreciation for what is truly important. That’s love in action.
This is not to say that there is no room for acknowledging how unpleasant 2020 was (because it was not all rainbows and unicorns), but it is to say that our perspective helps shape our reality. We can sit with the darkness and feel planted vs. buried. If you were planted in 2020, what do you desire to reap in 2021 and beyond? What lessons from 2020 will you carry forward as you become the best version of yourself?
Bio: Stephanie Barbee is a Clinical social worker in Missouri. She serves Black people seeking to approach therapy from a holistic (mind-body-spirit) perspective or explore spirituality more deeply.
Stephanie Barbee, MSW, LCSW