On Change, Growth, 2020, and Other Ramblings

It’s commonplace to ask someone, “How’s it going?” or some variation when greeting them, even in our “new normal” (isn’t it just “regular normal” by now?) way of doing it virtually in 2020. More often than not, these days, I sigh heavily and say, “It’s complicated” or “Who knows?”.

I’m not trying to be flippant when I respond that way. That is how I genuinely feel when I think about how it’s going. Life is changing for me every hour, every day. In the past few months, I’ve experienced high highs and low lows. Nothing completely earth-shattering has happened on either end of the spectrum, but it feels almost like someone is taking the slider toggle on that spectrum and is just moving it back and forth frantically.

That’s part of why I haven’t blogged much lately, even though I was trying to get in the habit of it. I’m envious of the people who have been able to get their thoughts out in this time in a cohesive and eloquent way, because nothing has felt quite right for a topic.

I’ve had personal victories in 2020. I made a total career switch, which is something I never thought I’d do and hadn’t even started contemplating until maybe two years ago. I’ve completed projects for clients almost entirely independently, with input, feedback, and help from my fellow consultants. I’ve received great feedback on those projects and made people happy with the hard work I’ve put in. I’ve collaborated with other consultants and other teams on work and have worked on building some great relationships that I really cherish. I started even learning some code with the SharePoint Framework and doing code review with a senior dev, which still makes me feel a little like one of those hackers in a movie if I’m being honest. I earned another Microsoft certification and that led me to getting my Microsoft Certified Trainer application approved and officially becoming an MCT.

There have also been struggles. My family has been affected by COVID repeatedly in scary ways. My extended family, whose huge gatherings have been a foundational part of my life, has struggled with competing outlooks on health and safety, and I have to wonder when and if we can recapture something that has always meant so much to me. I haven’t gotten together with my little immediate family since the pandemic started, as half of us are immunocompromised and at high-risk. As someone who has always loved living alone, not getting those outlets to socialize at will with friends and family has taken a toll. Sure, I don’t have the worry of having to be cooped up with someone and driving each other up the wall, but I also don’t get to just give the people I love a big hug either.

My struggles aren’t unique and I know people have had so much more loss and hardship than I have. My relatives who have gotten COVID are healing, though not as quickly as we’d all like. My family has all kept their livelihoods intact, even though no jobs are without stressors. My cats are healthy and interesting co-workers to say the least.

One of said cat co-workers, doing his best to support my productivity.

I guess I’m writing this to say that my goal to finish out this year is to keep growing while focusing on my blessings. I spent too long thinking I was trapped in my career, and as a result, remained stagnant for too long. I hoped that other people within my organization would continue to help me grow, rather than taking the reigns and doing it myself. I let my fear of change and uncertainty stop me from recognizing that I had more to offer the world. I’m the only one who can really shape my life into what I want it to become. I am the sole income in my household because my cats haven’t become Instagram-famous yet, so I have to be responsible still, but I’ve learned in this crazy, terrible, life-changing year of 2020 that I can be so much more than I let myself believe I was capable of.

2020 will be up there in the list of harder years that I’ve experienced in my life, but I also have made so much change to my life for the better this year. Maybe instead of just throwing 2020 in the trash like we’ve all thought about with varying frequency, we can all find a way to thank it for what it has given us and then hope that healing from the rest of it comes with 2021.

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