Reflecting on a year of… *gestures at all of this*

Ahhhhh finally, our frontline friends share selfies from vaccine lines, our good news arriving in needle form. Collective hope restored by pandemic numbers on the decline and leadership on the rise. And though our loins ache for the roaring 20’s we’ve spent the last year dreaming of, it looks like we’ll get out of this mess. Hooray! This is super. And I’m glad. Because I’m fucking sick of expressing an emotion and hearing “it’s okay, it’ll all be over soon.” Like that provides comfort for someone who’s recently attended their first Zoom funeral. As if emotions went on hold like our happy hour or travel plans. Yes, the future is bright but…

We’ve changed. And before we morph back, it’s important we have an honest conversation with ourselves, who we were, and how all of this is going to affect who we want to be. An identity reflection of sorts. Because if there’s anything we all had shattered this year, it was some sense of our identity. If we whiplash forward into post-pandemic life (which many are already living around the world to some degree) without appreciating the growth that’s occurred (or lack thereof,) we’ll miss noting it. We won’t be able to come back here once it’s gone. And I realize that’s insane to say out loud, now, but it’s true. Like any memory, this time is fleeting. And it’s okay to hold space to reflect on your identity without forcing others to look at Facebook memories. It’s okay to note the mental fatigue from the six-step decision tree you have to navigate before going to the supermarket or risk your life to see a friend. This sh*t has been very weird and it will eventually be hard to believe, even for us.

My neighbor runs an Airbnb next door and some annual visitors I adore just showed up. They asked how my speaking career is going during covid and the difference between this time last year and now just… hit. The last time we chatted I was headed to NOLA for a panel, then on to Minneapolis for home shopping tv training, before a month of speaking and hackathons in New Zealand. They remembered with such clarity. This series events would be my last pre-pandemic. She runs a wine tour business. And last Feb they were glowing, planning their upcoming wedding. We discussed it at length during their visit. I even pitched officiating. Fast-forward to this weekend, and I haven’t been on stage IRL in 11 months. They did get married… with a pastor and her son live-streaming the nuptials. They’re upbeat despite it all and looking forward to a love party someday soon “hopefully this summer.”

These time capsule moments will soon blur & fade as the year anniversary passes. But for now… we can still be caught breathless when we see our reflection, mirrored in the past.  

I encourage (and give you permission) to take a moment to reflect on these questions (and any others that come to mind.) You can do this with friends over zoom, your family, or in quiet introspection. 

  • What would you say to yourself a year ago?
  • How have you surprised yourself? 
  • In what ways were you strong?
  • When did you feel weak?
  • What was the most lit thing you did in 2020?
  • Do you talk more openly about mental health?
  • Do you like your colleagues more or less?
  • Were you ever scared?
  • What do you know now that you won’t admit until reflecting a year from now?

The idea is really to preserve your pandemic self. However imperfect. March 2020-now is a journey that will be branded in our collective history books forever. And we know who usually writes the history books. So seek a moment to write a little history of you. Because I think you’re lovely. And your story matters.

I captured this selfie March 4th, 2020 after my speaking calendar for the year evaporated. Just waking from the blissfully naïvety of the before times, it’s now a part of my history.

And in case anyone cares about my facebook memory, here’s a photo of the moment after my speaking calendar got wiped over the course of a brief train ride in New Zealand. I’d tell this Savannah that she has no idea how long it’s going to last, but she’ll still be on virtual stage, and the same tools (grit, reputation, shamelessness) that got her to this pub in Wellington, will get her through this too. Or at least this far.