Essays & Confessions / Living

10 People On What They’re Doing Differently After A Year Of Living Through COVID

By Thursday, February 04, 2021

It’s no secret that last year will go down in the history books. Most of it for bad, and very little of it for good. But one thing is for certain — if you made it through 2020, and to 2021, you deserve an award for surviving, alone.

Recently we asked a few of our readers to submit their responses to the following question:

“What are you going to do differently in 2021 in response to lessons you learned in 2020?”

Replies varied from a complete uprooting of ones’ lifestyle based on ethereal epiphanies to more literal goals and plans that, though short-term, contribute to an overall end goal. Above all, the responses were honest. Check them out below, for yourself.

1. Less Death Scrolling, More Bank Rollin’

I’m doing less social media and consuming more Minimalist and Money Management content. Less socializing with people in my past and connecting more with new ambitious people who are interested in growing wealth and healthy living. I bought my own simple equipment instead of going to the gym and I’m already seeing results. Any extra monies I receive from bonuses and PTO cash outs I’m going to split between an emergency fund and investments.

—Mel M.

2. If It’s Not A F*ck Yes, It’s A HecllNo!

As an independent business owner and educator, I think I overworked myself to madness in 2020 for sheer fear of losing my job. In 2021 I’m going to actively teach myself to say no to things that get in the way of self/personal time and block out time to have nothing to do.”

—Esther Y.

3. I’m Holding Myself Accountable For My Own Happiness

Commit to my personal life as much as I commit to my work. I quit my job and started freelancing at the end of last year. One reason in making the decision to quit was that I found myself valuing work over life and I wanted that to change. For 2021. I am actively holding myself accountable to committing to a work/life balance that I find to be healthy for me. It has been challenging (I literally put “go on a walk” on my calendar) but I already can feel it making a positive impact on my well-being and am actively encouraging friends and colleagues to do the same.

—Katlyn Stevens

4. No Budging On My Budget!

Stick to my budget. I have always been pretty frugal with money, really only spending big sums on traveling, but never had a structured budget. We were co-living with a couple in Mexico last year that was really committed to their budget and with my frugal nature, I was naturally intrigued by this. Thankfully they taught me the basics and showed me their systems so in 2021, I have challenged myself (along with my husband) to create and stay committed to our budget. Our goal is to
1. Find out what we’re spending money on
2. Hold ourselves accountable to saving.
3. Cut out unnecessary spending.

—K. Stevens

5. I’m *Not* Giving 110% To My Career

“In 2020 I gave everything to my job. Spent my free time at work and all my friends were from the office. Was laid off without remorse in July DURING A PANDEMIC. I’m not making the same mistake in 2021. I’ll be creating a life outside of work and not giving 110% to my career.”

—Chelsey

6. I’m Reclaiming My Child-Like Optimism

Moving forward, I’m trusting myself more. I can honestly say that 2020 really did give me 20/20 vision of myself. A year of tragedy and trauma held a mirror up to my face and forced me to self-reflect in ways that were scary and uncomfortable, but above all, necessary for change. I hadn’t realized how much of an impact certain experiences in my life truly impacted me until last year. Impacted me in ways that made me less sure of myself, less confident, and more anxious about every little thing.

Towards the end of last year, I decided that I was tired of feeling that way. What we grow accustomed to is what we also become comfortable with. Even if it means we grow comfortable with being uncomfortable. At some point, I got sick and tired and feeling just that. While my decision to trust myself again was instant, the process was (and still is) in progress. I missed the optimism and child-like confidence I had most of my life. I’m reclaiming that in 2021.

—Soraya

7. I’ve Switched Cold Wine For Hot Tea — & I Love It!

Cliche, but true nonetheless, 2020 really hit me in the face with my shadow self and forced me to confront poor lifestyle choices I had been making for years. Over the last two months, I’ve switched wine-fueled nights for hot tea. A lot of hot tea. I still drink, but it’s down to one night (sometimes two) per week. Not only had my alcohol consumption doubled in 2020, but I also noticed I was getting more fatigued and felt more vulnerable physically. While I can’t stop covid alone with a healthier lifestyle, it certainly doesn’t hurt.

—Jazmine Reed-Clark

8. I’m Saying “Buy, Buy, Buy” To Strict Budgeting

In response to COVID, this year I’m “abandoning” strict budget guidelines. For example, rent is only “supposed” to be roughly 30% of your salary but I’m spending closer to 50% of my salary on rent and utilities this year for a larger space in an area that is more accessible via walking given that I don’t have a car and am still not using public transportation. I stuck to my pre-COVID budget very closely, last year, largely ignoring the shift in needs due to the pandemic and this year, I’m finally embracing our “new normal” and adjusting my lifestyle and budget, as a result.

—Keertana Anandraj

9. I’m Embracing Alone Time Instead Of Simply “Settling” For It

When lockdown first began, as unintentionally selfish as it sounds, I was more afraid of dying from boredom than I was of COVID. Mainly because boredom posed the bigger threat. I’m already paranoid when it comes to my health, so I had zero intention of breaking the ‘Stay At Home’ orders. I just didn’t know what I was going to do with that much free time on my hands. I’m single, live alone and have no pets. Not to mention, working from home began to ruin the fun of being at my home. I worked from home. Worked out at home. Slept at home. Stayed at home. Bleh.
Then something amazing happened. I found that I enjoyed my own company. And a lot. Probably too much. The peace. The predictability. The privilege of both. And while I still look forward to meeting with friends in a large crowded bar, and celebrating life post-vaccine, I’m grateful to have learned how to enjoy my own company just as much, if not more, at times. It’s liberating, to say the least.

—Fae

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Editor’s Note: While all of the messages were inspiring in their own way, one TFD reader (who asked to remain anonymous) poured their heart out into their response. While a bit long in context, I felt compelled to share her response in its entirety because I felt it would resonate with a lot of people. See below:

10. “2020 uncovered years of my unhealthy relationship with failure…”

For some context, I work in the public sector but during 2019-2020 I became quite stagnant in my current role and attempted to get a new job. The process has emotionally scarred me. I made all the standard mistakes: stayed up late to write cover letters, emailed the same CV to hundreds of companies, messed up my sleep cycle and eating habits to constantly check job adverts. It made me anxious and miserable but I was on autopilot. I kept thinking, ‘This is the year I need to level up and secure a better role,’ but I was rejected for everything.

I ended up securing 7 interviews but no job offers. Things got so bad in terms of my mental health that I actually signed up for therapy. When I deconstructed my behavior with my therapist, it uncovered years of my unhealthy relationship with failure. I punish myself by working long hours for the sake of it rather than spending a short time writing meaningful job applications because I am terrified of failing, so I want to always ‘look’ like I’m trying hard.

It was hard to learn new things about myself like that in 2020. With that in mind, I’ve entered 2021 with the sole aim of being nicer to myself. I think when my career interests align with the right lifestyle habits whereby, I value my health and wellbeing. Life will get better and that new role will be inevitable. If anyone else ends up reading this, please know that job hunting is an emotionally draining process and sometimes as women of color, we put so much pressure on ourselves to succeed, that we forget to take care of ourselves in the process. In 2021 the main process I’m attempting differently is how I perceive myself and what I do to ensure I am living well on a daily basis, I think a good career can only benefit from me treating myself well.

—Anonymous

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