Remaining Grateful in 2021

I think we can put a whole new meaning to New Year's resolutions, but maybe this year we can scrap them and focus on gratitude. I've talked a lot about gratitude, mainly because it's the one thing that has kept me grounded and rooted with perspective. As I look forward with optimism and the desire for a slower pace this year (as I'm sure a lot of people are yearning for), there's so much to be grateful for and I think creating a habit of remembering and being content with what you have can help resolve feelings of emptiness that 2020 was so generous for gifting us with.  

The beginning of the year had a lot of promise, like many new years usually bring. I was finishing up a campaign for a competition class and looking for summer internships, little did I know that everything would change come March. I left my apartment at school, had no plans for work or summer, and had to learn how to adapt to staying at home. I know my experiences this year were the least of struggles and hardships many other people have gone through, but I think it's fair to say that we all struggled on our own fronts. I would find myself constantly drained, tired, and worrisome, but being at home alone allowed me to grow and learn how to survive this past year in many ways. 
Tuning into Little Joys
In desperate times, I've found that the cure to the emptiness, loneliness, and anxiety that most of us have felt this year is to tune into the things that we love, the people that we love, and realizing that there is so much more to be thankful for in the small and even trivial things. Such as the roof over your head, a jammin' Harry Styles playlist, perhaps good wifi connection, or even your health. Such things go unnoticed or thought about because we're so used to having things be certain, permanent, and constant in our lives. When life becomes interrupted we all freeze—those joys freeze—and we forget just how important they are to keep us sane and moving forward. 

Using Compassion to Bring Certainty
Last year felt like digging into quick sand trying to find a more optimistic way of thinking when you were hit with terrible headlines everyday. It felt like if you didn't make sure someone was okay and alive in an email, they'd think you'd already lost it in believing everything was normal. I found that using compassion and being considerate always brings a bit more certainty, humanity, and just common courtesy to any interaction, in person or virtual. We could all use a little more compassion and patience these days without assuming someone's situation. Choosing kindness above all.

Letting Myself Rest
I found myself extremely restless knowing I was stuck at home and not out and about working or being as productive as I would be in the city. I found myself resorting to a state of comparison (bad Natalie) and in a social media hole. None of it made me feel better and none of it helped me get the rest that I truly needed. A slower pace is something that I wish we can all root for this year. Not holding people accountable for not responding to an email immediately after you send it or keeping people on Zoom for over an hour. All of these things that were once part of my go-go routine and have now been put on pause won't hurt me, won't determine my worth, or stop me from achieving my goals. We're all at our own pace. You shouldn't feel bad or guilty for giving yourself a break once in a while. No more burnout. I repeat. No more burnout. 
Find some time right before you go to sleep to write down one simple thing you're grateful for or even think about it on your commute home from work (that is, if you still commute). Taking a moment to practice a positive mental habit, one that can tremendously improve your outlook on life, is just one way I can grant myself gratitude. What have you been grateful for lately? 

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