Dear 2020: We’re Through…

Strong New Year

Dear 2020,

This is a letter to tell you we’re through. 

It’s time. 

I’m ready to move on. 

The thing is, it’s not me…it’s you. You are the reason our time together has to end. 

You’ve been unpredictable, irrational, disorienting, and unrelentingly harsh.

You tried so hard to bring me down, 2020, using an array of unprecedented events to keep me in a constant state of worry, placing unimaginable stress on my relationships and family, and stripping me of some of the most basic activities that make the human experience meaningful. 

You’ve taken from me at every turn. 

You took big, irreplaceable things from me, like getting to hold my newborn godson or the chance to embrace a friend as they grieved. You canceled meaningful life events, like friends’ weddings, 50th anniversaries, and baby showers. You removed the freedom of going about my daily life without an ever present reminder that getting too close to another person could cause community harm.

You took so many lives. Over 330k people: a number too big for me to really process just yet. 

You also took many small things from me, simple joys I once took for granted, but now long for. 

Like having friends and family over to share a meal, trying samples while grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s, holding hands with fellow parishioners at church, seeing live music performed, toddler story-time at the library, making plans that aren’t weather dependent, and letting my son play on a playground with other children freely and without concern.

You’ve exposed just how great the inequality is in our world, yet showed no mercy for the most vulnerable. You tried to divide our country and sow doubt in our democratic systems. You’ve used amazing things like technology and scientific advancement to create further anxiety and vitriol instead of unity and national pride.

Ugh 2020, our time together has been heavy.  

Yet, as we go our separate ways, I hope you realize what I now know…

I’m a fighter with a strong spirit. 

Your cruelty simply wasn’t enough to bring me down. 

In fact, you’ve actually done the opposite. 

Like gold in a fire, 2020, you’ve refined me. 

Though I may be worn out and carrying a new set of wounds, I’m actually walking away from you feeling strong and more clear than ever. 

Today, as I say my final goodbye, I’ll admit I’m feeling rather emotional thinking about just how much we’ve been through over these last 12 months (that feel like 10 years), and I’m realizing with great surprise….

that, despite you, even in spite of you, I’ve actually thrived. 

Your completely unexpected turn of events helped me realize that even when facing hardship, uncertainty, disappointment and loss, I have the inner strength to be courageous, resilient, creative, and joyful. 

You’ve forced me to get incredible clarity about what matters most in my life and what things I can live without. You’ve made it unavoidable to deal with hard topics and have uncomfortable, but necessary conversations. 

You gave me a chance to get to know my neighbors, a new found appreciation for the outdoors, and a reason to celebrate any and all holidays with lots of decorations and baking.

You gave my family invaluable months, weeks, days, and hours together without any outside obligations – time that wouldn’t have been possible in any other circumstance. You’ve allowed my husband and I to have dinner together every night, and my son to get daily quality time with his dad. You gave my body the time at home I didn’t even know I needed to rest and heal after an exhausting first year of motherhood. 

You’ve removed the pressure for me to wear make-up, the motivation to quit social media, the necessity to perform home haircuts, and the opportunity to create new traditions for my young family. 

You’ve inspired me to get creative with date nights, embrace curbside pick-up, and be able to participate in events happening around the world with a simple Zoom link.

Most importantly, you gave me a chance to realize, with great clarity, that life is incredibly unpredictable. That being comfortable is not the goal.

That sometimes things need to be turned upside down before they can be made right side up. 

That human connection is one of the most valuable aspects of life. 

And, that what I really value and need most can never be taken from me – my faith, my hope, and my joy.

While I’ve grown accustomed to saying your name (2020) with great disdain and disgust, I do hope that years from now, when we’ve had the time and space needed to heal and grow, I will speak of our relationship, also, with dare I say, even gratitude for our intense and transformative time together.

So, 2020, despite how you tried to break me, I want you to know you didn’t win. 

I’m walking away from you as a new version of myself, one less put together and groomed on the outside, but feeling fierce and strong where it really counts… on the inside.

It’s time for me to move on. No looking back now. I couldn’t be more ready for brighter days ahead. 

See ya!

Sincerely,
Ashley

Ashley is a mom to an incredibly active toddler, and wife to a kind-hearted Louisville, KY native. After over a decade living in Brooklyn, NY, and few years in Cincinnati, OH, she recently returned home to KC to plant roots and grow her family. Most days you will find her exploring local parks, libraries and playgroups with her son, and tapping into Kansas Cities great art scene whenever she can.