What 2021 has taught me…

As the holidays approach, I start to think about New Year’s goals and/or what I hope to learn, achieve and do, in 2022.  I often start with reflecting on what I learned this past year.   So, this blog will explore a number of lessons learned.  Hoping you get a chance to reflect and dig deep into what you have learned and what you hope to achieve in 2022.

My value is not determined by my productivity

I work all the time, anyone who knows me will tell you this.  You get emails from me at 4 and 5 am in the morning.  I was working 2 contracts and 1 full-time job (both contracts were part-time) and then still writing grants.  It made me anxious, I wasn’t sleeping much, and my quality of work was not the best (well, not as good it should be).  So, I would get mad at myself.  This past June, I had to stop with one contract, and I limited my grant writing work.  I find myself today, not working on the weekends, not bringing work home (or limiting it) and my quality of work has improved.  I don’t have to work all the time for people to value me.  My value is in what I bring to the table or to my work and those I work with.  I bring a strong work ethic, skills, and abilities, leadership, communication, etc.  I am a committed employee, loyal and determined, and sincere.  That defines me, not the amount of work I do.

People are anxious and stressed

COVID has brought a lot of challenges but the increase in stress and anxiety is through the roof for all age groups.  I work with the justice system and those who engage in substance abuse have increased drastically (nationally); relapse for those trying to recover is the highest they have been in years, and those who need mental health support continue to climb at alarming rates.  But also, young people are struggling.  I hear college kids say all the time “I am stressed out” or “I am anxious”.  I have some students describe themselves as scared.  These are students who have not been made to go to class/school nor complete much homework; nor show up to a sport; nor have to work their way through high school for 2-3 years; all because of COVID and virtual learning.  Then they hit college, and they have to show up, they have to go to class, they have to turn in work, and they are crumbling.  It is a problem, and it will continue.  Helping support those who are struggling and being kind, encouraging, and also being watchful, is helpful. I pull students in my office often when I see they are breaking down, and we talk or process and we find a new solution. But start to prepare your high school student for college, post-COVID.

Unhappy people don’t like happy people (especially on social media)

Social media is wonderful at times.  I love seeing pictures of what families are doing for trips and vacations, seeing others being proud of their achievements, seeing old friends reunite, or sharing photos of decorations, Christmas lights, pets, etc.  Just seeing people be happy!   It is a way great way to be connected to others.  What has increased is the amount of drama-related content and this is due to COVID and society in general.  People are home more, bored, or stressed, unhappy, etc.   I have seen more passive-aggressive posting (that is a posting directed aggressively at someone without saying their name, but hoping they get a reaction from that person) are more popular.  Like picking at someone to start a fight.   I see this behavior most in people who are not working or possibly don’t have a purpose at the moment to fill their time.  Therefore, spending hours and hours on social media, scanning, digging, spending hours in chatrooms, connecting to others fills their time. 

I believe that most people who can, should work and this provides a purpose, value, etc. to the person and to society.  So, if you find yourself spending hours on social media or following someone who behaves this way on social media, your life and your social media will be better off if you don’t follow them.  At the end of the day, people who are not purposely filling their lives, providing value to others or themselves, will seek to devalue others.  Unhappy people don’t like to see other people happy. PERIOD.  Therefore, reducing their post, friendship, whatever it is, to fill your feeds with those who bring you joy, peace, and inspiration. 

At the end of this year, more than the lessons learned, I am thankful for my family and friends; a wonderful career; my husband’s career; that we work hard and have built a life that is full of love and joy.  This is our 3rd Christmas together as a family, time flies when you live, learn, are happy and healthy, and we continue to grow.     

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