I keep getting asked what my New Year’s resolutions may be. Options abound: Fitness and diet ads saturate my social media feeds hand in hand with memes talking about kicking 2020 to the curb, whew, it’s finally over.
But it’s not. The turn from 11:59 p.m. December 31, 2020 to 12:00 a.m. January 1, 2021 doesn’t increase vaccinations for COVID-19. It doesn’t impress upon people the need to continue to wear masks or stop gathering. It doesn’t free people from their hospital beds.
I won’t be heading into the office on Monday like I would have in the past, returning from the short break with new trinkets and calendars for my desk. Instead, I’ll pursue my normal routine, and step into my spare bedroom with my coffee and laptop and begin the workday just as I have for the past nine months.
I’m looking forward to a new year where more people start to value difference. Different ways of measuring and doing. Our bar for success must change because if we continue to thrust forward like we used to, but surrounded by new conditions, we’re going to fail. The professional world keeps commenting, “we’re so surprised at how productive work-from-home has been” or long-tenured telecommuters comment, “we’ve always known working this way can work.”
I’m looking forward to a new year where more people start to value difference.
Businesses are committing to smaller spaces, downsizing rent and expectation for return to the office. But amid that downsizing (and cost savings) productivity expectations remain the same. The same billable hours for the same or more work, but from the spare bedroom, the non-business level internet connection, the indecision of schools and daycares, the fear and panic of job security within your household. Our brains are full of life. Full of the thoughts of things that keep us going like how to pay bills and care for kids. We had a routine, we had a system. We had a standardized type of worry we could push down while we worked hard at our professions.
When will we all admit this vulnerability and offer each other some grace?
Now that worry needs more headspace because there’s more of it. There’s more work too. Productivity expectations haven’t reduced, but toil on our energy, hearts and minds has increased. It doesn’t wipe away with 2021. It feels like a gaping wound no doctor will diagnose. The mysterious ennui once defined as hysteria in women, medicated and moved past. But now it’s collective. Who will be the first to raise their hand and slow us down? Rearrange life priorities so we can standardize our worry and re-calibrate productivity? When will we all admit this vulnerability and offer each other some grace?
And by valuing difference, that means more than just changes in work. There’s a difference in our world, in capitalism right now, but there’s also difference in abilities and our understanding of inclusion and race and gender and diversity. Abruptly turning the page on 2020, tossing it in its own dumpster fire, implies we’ll move past that exigency as well. We shifted our conversation, were more vocal, were more persistent in 2020 about injustice. Are we forgetting that too in our sweeping dismissal of the old in favor of the new?
I’m not making resolutions for 2021 because the changeover from one day to the next doesn’t mark change as it might have in the past. It shouldn’t. To escape 2020 at this point only paves the way for an equally faulty and broken 2021.
Which bucket list items to complete or pounds to lose feel like tone deaf requests to the universe in light of all we face right now. Instead, my resolve for 2021 is to be empathetic and embrace that empathy when it’s given to me. My resolve in 2021 is to keep hanging on.
Feminist, activist, outdoor advocate, animal lover, chocolate shake lover, reader, watcher, talker, actor, speaker, worker, writer, urban adventurer, hustler, involved, passionate, excited, ready.