As 2020 finishes, I have optimism for the future. It has simultaneously brought me to my knees and lifted me up to the heavens by the lessons learned during the pandemic.

Six months before the pandemic had started, I lost my winter job. I was well into panic mode long before the worst of it began. To be truly honest, we had been in panic mode a lot longer than that. We had been struggling financially and otherwise for the last 4-5 years before that.

  I had been on the treadmill of life for so long I had been neglecting a lot of things in my life like my wife and partner, my family and friends, my personnel dreams and just the general care of me. I had been burning the candle at both ends for years. The cracks had been showing for some time. COVID-19 came along and brought all those things to the surface. 

    COVID suddenly exposed that I had been living in a shell, a prison of my making, that I had been blaming my circumstances on other people or just the world. I had been putting things on the back burner for another day, thinking, “this will be taken care of", but that time never came.  I was too eager to bury it, it felt like to much work to really take it seriously. The pandemic swept away all the distractions or problems that were too painful to deal with and expose them for what they were. The glacier of COVID swept away all the falsities of my life. What was left was the bone stark reality of the life that I had inadvertently created, and it was a mess. Fear gripped me, I felt like my entire life was up for grabs, that everything that I had been working for was softly fading away. I questioned myself and really beat myself up for all the wrong decisions that I made. My inner voice had turned on me and I was finally all alone. My spark had gone dark, and it was replaced with a black hole that was slowly swallowing up who I thought I was and what I thought I wanted.

Luckily for me, I was in an industry that was not restricted during the lockdown, so I could go to work and not have to think about the frightening aspects of the pandemic, its unprecedented territory for this generation. When it first begun, I could spend my nervous energy working my body, not having to think about my future and the greater fear we were all sharing. As I went about my day, I realized something.  That I was in a place that made me feel good and I was doing something that I genuinely loved. At that moment I experienced genuine gratitude, I saw something that I once had taken for granted with new meaning. It made me feel a little better.

I not going to lie to you. The clouds did not part and sun rained down and everything was awesome from then on. Even as I write this, I am still piecing together my life and suspect that never really ends. There have been many dark times between, but as I sorted through my life’s wants because finally, I had to choose and no longer could I put it off. Each decision was less anxious, the unknowns were being answered, piece by piece.

I needed to do a lot of things better. My relationship with my wife and kids, if I valued it, I had to show it somehow. If I wanted to remain doing what I loved, I had to make that continue. To get it right, I had to be kind to myself. Let all the mistakes, the bruised ego and all that fed it behind. I needed to open up to the ones I trusted with my feelings. Mostly to grieve what was my old life plan, release that grief and embrace the possibility of a healthier me.

I go out of 2020 feeling grateful for my life and loved ones, family, and friends. The future, I look to it with optimism rather than fear and anxiety. Being kind to myself is easier, and I look for my positives and accept responsibilities for my negatives as a fair, balanced look at myself. Simultaneously, 2020 is the end and the beginning of my story. I will welcome 2021 as the future of better things to come. 

 24 Hour Mental Health Support:  Canada Suicide Prevention Line 1-833-456-4566  Mental Health AHS 1-888-7854284  Mental Health Help Line 1-877303-2642