If I am being honest, this last year was-one to remember. Part of me wants to call it a disaster, but there were a lot of good things too. For me, it has been the most mentally draining year of my life. I know, I know-it’s 2020/COVID, and everyone was struggling in some way with the pandemic. This is a big part of why I have not been able to write much. I cannot tell you how many times I have sat down with a lot to say, and then between mental/physical exhaustion, an inability to get my point across, or an inability to see through the tears in my eyes, I give up. I have started probably 30 different pieces, some lost forever entirely, some just incomplete, and others just too depressing to want to reflect back on. This past year has been hard on me, but today I am choosing to push through. I may share those someday, but for now, I am sharing a positive message.
I saw this post on social media, and it really hit me.
The company. Of course! Most of my life the destination has been obscure. I do not really know where I am going, or what my goal is, but I know that I want to get there. I want to have this success that I dreamed of as a kid. I want to find this happiness that comes after you graduate, after you start your career, after you start your family, after….whatever the next step is. I want to navigate this life flawlessly and look back and remember this amazing journey that I have been on with a grateful heart.
To be honest, none of those things are real. There is no clear indication of the destination. There is nothing we are chasing that we can obtain and be satisfied with. There is always going to be a next step, a new goal, a moving target that we need to hit. And to look back at the journey, it will likely be littered with bumps and bruises, and maybe even a few hills and falls that result in major setbacks. Maybe these are relationships, family issues, financial stress, health issues, or global pandemics. The list could go on forever. One thing I have learned is to never get too comfortable, because when you do, something is going to shake the ground below you, and you are going to have to figure out how to move to a more stable ground.
What is the most important piece is the company you keep as you navigate this life. Sometimes your company will fall through the cracks. Some will not be able to understand your decisions. Some will enter your life and leave as quickly as they came. Some will stick around and help get you through a time period or event. Some will stick around for the long haul. All these people matter. All the company that you have on your journey are important. What is that saying, something like, “people enter your life for a season, a reason, or a lifetime.” What powerful words. Even those people who come into your life and seem to leave as quickly as they came serve a purpose. They may bring a lesson, an answer, an opportunity to grow. I am all to often overthinking this and cherishing the time I have with people and when they leave, I reflect on their purpose in my life.
This year I have had to learn what little control I have. Depending on your beliefs, you may believe that you ultimately have none, but I believe that we have freewill as well as guidance on the path.
The last month I have been searching for answers and really trying to figure out a lot on my own. I did not realize that I was holding so much in until it, sort of, exploded out of me. I do not even really know why I was afraid to talk about my feelings, but I think for a lot of people that is common. It was probably even more fueled by the fact that I never have needed to really discuss my feelings. I just accept what is, and move on. I have never had time or desire to focus or discuss my feelings, I just adapt, adjust my goals, realign my thoughts, and continue on. Some counselors may gasp and think this is not okay, but it is just how I have lived. When a negative thing happens, I think something along the lines, of “well that sucks. Okay, what now? What is plan B?” and get to work. Afterall, that is how I survived 2014-2015.
2020 created A LOT of free time. I was not running kids to various activities, rushing out the door to schools and then work, and 9 hours later rushing from work to multiple school pickups, to baseball/basketball/piano/date night, homework bath and bed. Whatever the night included, it was always Go-go-go. When 2020 left us all home, pretty much all the time, it created A LOT of time to think about what I was doing, feeling, experiencing, etc. and boy, was that new. And thank God my journey had me in a job that could easily transition to working from home, and with kids that had to learn from home too. If I was alone in some big city, or used to traveling the world, and the world shut down like it did in 2020-well, I feel sad for the people in those situations and am thankful that I had stability and flexibility.
I am thankful for the company that I had in 2020. These kids that somedays drive me bananas, have made me laugh more than anything this year. I have been home with L1 and L3 (now called A) since March, and even though I miss being at work, and they miss being at school, we manage to have a lot of fun. I will forever cherish the time I have had with them. After a lot of thought and trusting their COVID-19 precautions, L2 started back at preschool in September because there is no way anyone could have been productive trying to balance school and work while that tiny human tore the house apart. L1 and A have started back to school now in hybrid form, but are getting back to full time in just a couple weeks. We created a “COVID bubble” that included very few people that we trust and were honest with about any possible exposure, so that we could safely spend time with a couple extra people. It was vital to my sanity to have this outlet.
To add to the chaos, we also made some pretty exciting decisions. March-June we lived part time in two different houses, but together. When schools shut down, I took on the responsibility of keeping three kids home with me, so we spent time bouncing back and forth depending on what we had going on, or how many kids we had that night. It was, well, hectic. In June, we decided enough was enough, we needed to buy a house that we all fit in, so we did. We purchased our new family home in August, and it was the best decision we made all year. I thought all the excitement was over, but in October I got to say “YES” to marrying my boyfriend! Weird time to plan a wedding, so were just enjoying the engagement for now and growing together. It is fun doing life with someone, which for a few years I thought was not in my cards, and again I am so thankful that I had someone with me during all the stress that COVID brought on.
Right after COVID started, well rather the shutdown of nearly everything, I turned 31. We went to my favorite restaurant to get food to go and went to a local park to enjoy it. We walked around for a while, making sure that we were at least 6-10 feet from anyone (remember, this was the beginning-everyone was a threat, and everyone was scared). It was so surreal, but also the least stressful birthday ever. Now I am under a week away from turning 32, and I cannot believe it. It seems as though this year flew by, yet was the longest year of my life.
As I enter 32, I am fully vaccinated from a disease that I once thought might take me out. I do not really know what being vaccinated means yet, as there just is not enough information on that, but I am thankful beyond measure to have it. Somehow my entire immediate family and everyone that I considered always in by bubble during COVID is coming out of this without having gotten it. That is pretty amazing. I also have a new job, (with my same company) that I am loving. I have a lot of healthy and happy kids to keep me busy, and a fiancé to laugh at the craziness with. There really is not much to complain about. While I am not going to get comfortable in that place, I will enjoy it while it lasts. My tribe is pretty dang solid, and has shown that we can get through pretty much whatever life throws at us. (Universe, this is not a call to action. We are also cool just floating by…)
I want to get back to writing, but I have also grown increasingly hard on myself when I don’t need to be. So here’s to “I will try, and I will be back when I am back.”
Who knows what this next year will bring, but I am here for it.
❤ MS Andrea Jackson