Dear 2020

This isn’t working out. It’s not me; it’s you.

It’s not really a problem with you personally. My beef if mostly about how you’ve behaved. You’ve single-handedly given us 12 months of an unpredictable shitstorm that even the best weatherman couldn’t have predicted.

I’m not saying you’re an asshole. It’s just that you’ve been acting like an asshole. Shame on you.

We’re all a little nervous about what’s ahead. Who wouldn’t be, what with this year’s highlight reel still playing so vividly in our minds? Our very favorite horror/suspense/crime writers could not have combined their creative talents to invent a year that includes:

  • Australian wildfires.
  • Harry and Meghan leaving THE fam. (WHAT even?!)
  • Kobe.
  • Covid.
  • Black Lives Matter (It seriously took this long?)
  • Biden & Kamala
  • Murder hornets & Chadwick Boseman? (Really, 2020? The Black Panther?)
  • U.S. wildfires & RBG? (I need a drink.)
  • Eddie van Halen & Alex Trebek? (This is ridiculous.)

This is no way to make friends, 2020. Honestly, next year doesn’t even need to put in much of an effort. As long as there are no catastrophic asteroids or new worldwide pandemics, 2021 should be a standout fave compared to what you’ve dropped in our laps.

Thank You Anyway

I will, however, say thanks to you, 2020, for a few important lessons you taught me. I learned a lot of these the hard way:

  1. Love yourself and give yourself a little grace. My writing partner and I were going to do NaNoWriMo this year. Guess who got Covid…in November? That’d be me. As my internal GPS would say, ‘rerouting.’ Needless to say, we’re still writing, but that book didn’t happen in November.
  • Reach out to the ones you love and focus on the important things. Work will always be here, but there have been a lot of moments in 2020 to remind me to step back and appreciate the people in my life.
  • Nobody’s perfect and no one has the perfect solution. In addition to giving myself a little grace, I’m learning to give others grace, too. Assuming positive intent and giving people the benefit of the doubt go a long way. After all, this year has been a cluster for everyone, and we’re all trying to figure it out together.
  • Working remotely is pretty darned effective. As a creative person who has spent most of my career in an office setting, I’m loving life and enjoying being able to create whenever, wherever. (I’m currently writing while camping in the woods in my PJ pants, and I feel WAY more productive than sitting behind a desk.) Different scenery is engaging to different personalities, and I’m glad more employers are recognizing this, too!
  • There’s a reason parents aren’t teachers. OMG, you guys, our kids’ teachers are heroes! Because my kids have been learning at home, I now know exactly how many times per day their teachers have to remind them to focus, get them back on track, answer questions, redirect them, and prod them when work isn’t complete. It’s my firm belief that teachers should be paid in solid gold bars, Red Bull, and Fireball shots. When things get back to normal-ish, I’m gonna send in some dry erase markers, notebooks, whatever teachers need…and a Starbucks gift card or two to say thank you a million times over for taking my children back!
  • We don’t like to be told what to do. I mean, I know I’m stubborn, but when you entered the room, 2020, I got a glimpse of an entire country of people filled with…well, different versions of that me-stubbornness. Oops. I’ve listened to debates about face masks, social distancing, occupancy limits, shutdowns, and more. And I’ve learned that most of us aren’t unkind, but many of us have forgotten how to listen and have a real conversation. I’m trying to get better at that.
  • Grocery delivery kicks ass. I never thought I’d say that, but here I am. This year taught me that I really don’t have to fondle the bananas and peppers before I bring them home. I can place that trust firmly in someone else’s hands and be ok with the outcome. And you know what, my bananas have been ripe (but not too ripe) and my peppers have been crisp. So, thanks for that, 2020.

The Breakup

It feels like you’ve overstayed your welcome, 2020…like you’ve been here for longer than your allotted 12 months. It’s like you just moved in, stopped paying rent, and are claiming squatter’s rights…with no intention of ever vacating. But it’s over. It’s time for you to move on.

You’ve taken a lot. You’ve taught us a lot. You’ve been a shithead. You are the ex-boyfriend who burns your girlfriend’s favorite jeans in the dumpster. You’re the guy who asks two different girls to the prom. You’re the dude who talks through the entire movie.

Everyone has a personal story about you, 2020. You took one of my best friends and my favorite aunt. You also swooped in and took the dad of a great friend of mine. You have wreaked havoc with accidents and illnesses, and you’re still not finished.

I know this is difficult to hear, but I’d like to spend time with other years. My time with you has definitely been exciting, but I have to tell you we are not compatible long-term. I prefer to spend my days Covid-free, with my family healthy, my job secure, and my finances stable. So 2020, if you don’t mind, it’s time for me to show you the door.

I’m glad I learned the lessons I did from you, but this is good-bye. I feel like I barely know the new guy, but at this point, I’m already head-over-heels in love with 2021.

Published by Janelle Stahl

I'm a wife and a mom, a spoiler of pets, a traveler, and a learner. I love to explore, and yep, you guessed it...WRITE! The serial comma is my spirit punctuation, and I get super-excited when friends and family don't make their last names possessive on Christmas cards. Social media is my jam, I've written a couple of books for kids and one fiction novel, with another in the works. If a nerdy girl could be a little bit cool, that would be me. I own entirely too many Isabel Allende books, and if you take me anywhere near a flea market, I'm likely to go on an impromptu treasure hunt!

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