Oh, 2022, I want to like you. I do.
I have a lot of hopes and expectations for you, but I am really keeping them to myself.
You see, on the last day of 2020, a year I was glad to see gone, I uttered the words, “The next year has to be better.”
And it wasn’t; not by a long shot.
The year 2021 brought a lot more of the negative things that were vintage 2020. As I told a friend, “The sequel to the horror movie is usually gorier than the first one.”
I don’t think I was the only one who had hoped for things to be different.
There was a collective holding of our breath as we turned the page on the calendar 12 months ago, as we hoped a small miracle would befall us and things would be back to what we had found to be normal.
Instead, we had a tumultuous year filled with more sadness and chaos.
I, for one, felt like I was on some wild rollercoaster as I navigated the extreme highs and deep lows of the year.
It was dizzying.
Others have expressed the same thing.
I was reminded, yet again, that sometimes we have to take the good with the bad, and as Granny would often remind me, when going through Hades, keep your head down and keep going.
By keeping your head down, you’re focused on your steps, making sure they are moving forward and that you don’t trip.
Sometimes the best way out is through, and that’s what we’ve all done recently. It’s been a matter of surviving rather than thriving, and trying to find our balance when everything around us is spinning out of control.
Keeping our head down also keeps us from making that eye contact with anyone else, where we may find ourselves having to acknowledge their experience, too.
Rather than keeping my head down this year, I am gently, cautiously wanting to lift my chin and take a peek around.
Knowing that in doing so, I am opening myself up to the possibility I will make myself a little vulnerable, too.
I know the last two years have been hard.
In fact, when 2019 ended, I had such high hopes for 2020, thinking that maybe the number signified some clarity we’d all have. Perhaps it did, in its own way, but the clarity may not have been what we had wanted.
Instead we’ve discovered how we’re resilient and have grit — maybe enough grit to last a lifetime — and can be survivors of sorts.
Building that strength has not been easy and I hope somehow we’ve learned to temper it with some compassion and grace.
We’ve hoped, wished, and believed that things would be better, and while there have been some improvements, it’s also felt like what we’ve been through has left a residual effect on many of us.
We may not even recognize it now, but what we’ve been through these last couple of years has been a collective trauma, and it may hit us later on or affect us in surprising ways years from now.
Being able to keep my heart open and kind after this experience may take the most strength of all, but that’s what I am going to strive for, knowing I may fail horribly at times.
So instead of saying I am hoping the next 365 days will be better or full of joy, things I have absolutely no control over, I am working on what I can control.
My response and reaction to things are pretty much it and usually, I struggle with those as my default emotion is usually fear camouflaged as anger.
So I am setting the intention that this year, I will be mindful of how I respond to all the things the world throws at me.
Hopefully, I will remember that I’m not the same person I was two years ago, nor should I be; and I hope these trials have formed me into a kinder, more tolerant person.
Maybe grace extended will be grace returned.
2021, I know there’s a lot of people who are counting on you to deliver a lot.
I’m not even going to utter all the things we’re hoping for, out of fear of jinxing it.
Whatever this year holds, I just hope that it will be gentle.
Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.