What a year it has been and I’m quite sure most of you reading this blog are looking forward to a more optimistic 2021. If you really think about it though, the take away from 2020 is that We Made It!
There was a time back in late March, early April where anxiety levels were high, there was military deployment to keep people home, the number of deaths due to COVID infections in Europe was cascading out of control and with the sudden lockdown, an artificially created scarcity of basic goods and the belief that we are all doomed to be infected had sowed a real fear in our minds.
The fear of doomsday, of death and dependency.
Fortunately for mankind, we didn’t have to wait very long to see the light at the end of the tunnel, it shone much before we reached the end. The realization that COVID is not going to be as fatal as we believed, that war will not break, that the Earth’s surface won’t be littered with dead bodies which can’t be touched other than by a ginormous pair of tongs, was dawning on us.
The countries which had greater success in fighting off the disease showed us the way with rigorous testing and mindful precautions. Slowly life crawled back to a state of semi consciousness which we quickly embraced. Slowly, the economy and jobs crept back and the extreme fear crept away.
Even then, some of us mourned the loss of loved ones, silently and alone. Others were distressed with job losses and pay cuts and then there were those of us who were thrown into agony thanks to the practical inability to physically meet our loved ones.
As we carry this myriad of anguish with stoic disquiet, the realization unfolds that really 2020 was not simply a year of panic or fear or loss, it is a year where self-reliance has come up tops.
Self-reliance, because, you and I have no control over the external environment.
Until now we may have lulled ourselves into believing that having enough money or a stable job or power and authority or even your loved ones around means there is nothing to worry about; that the life choices you have made are rewarding. With the pandemic spreading so fast across borders, cultures, social class and age, one is left with the feeling that a lot of what can impact our lives and turn it turtle on its head, is really not in our control. Not in anyone’s control.
What is within our reach, within our lines of control, is perhaps our ability to absorb these external shocks, no matter which direction they come from and with whatever force.
I don’t mean a collective ability, which is there, of course, and its greatest example is the speed with which a vaccine has been made available and the resolve with which citizens of the globe have adopted precautions to save others.
What I’m talking about here is the self-reliance.
If at the beginning you were rattled doing house chores along with trying to focus on office calls, by the end of it you may have realized that you are capable of multi-tasking and producing results that surprise even you.
That’s self-reliance, being able to cater to your house, hygiene and food with no external help.
It may have tired you out but nevertheless, you learnt you could do it, something you perhaps didn’t know earlier.
For those who fell sick and were surprised by their body’s weakness at succumbing to the persistent virus, one has to say that our health too is in our hands. It may never be a 100% guarantee but focus on just keeping your body clean and healthy with the understanding that you owe yourself that much self-reliance. Popping pills is never going to be an alternative to a healthy lifestyle, COVID has taught us that. Immunity doesn’t come with vaccines; it comes when an entire population rejects a junk lifestyle and knows the limits of our bodies when it comes to unhealthy indulgences.
Take your health in your hands and stand tall, don’t let the mammoth pharmaceutical companies make you think that pills are an easy solution to a problem that you haven’t even faced yet. Pandemics are really not going away in a hurry. Get yourself ready to face them with good health.
Have you ever spent this long without meeting, in-person, those who you care about so deeply? Have you had to shelve those landmark travel plans because this turned out to be the worst year to execute them? Have you spent too much time bumping into family members, morning, noon and night without knowing what else you can talk to them about?
Have you lost your favourite job, with nowhere else to apply? Are you stuck in a hated job, because you dare not leave in this pandemic? Did you have to close shutters to your business which you had nurtured for years? Did you have to start working in an industry you feel no passion for?
Did you say goodbye to loved one, never to return? Did you welcome a new born fearful of the world you’re bring her into?
So much has happened in 2020 that putting things down in words seems rigid. The real experiences are so much more monumental than anything that words can express. Who do you turn to when everything is in lock down?
Who do you turn to when the person in front is reluctant to shake your hand, when all you need is to feel human touch to calm you down?
You turn to yourself. Draw that inner strength you know you have. Look for it and don’t give up till you find it. Human life, all life, is transient. Time is constantly moving and shifting our experiences. Time will move and shift this experience too. That is what 2020 teaches us. Absorb the now with greatest emotional reliance, knowing that it’s your inner strength which will help you craft the outcomes for tomorrow, in health and in sickness.
Let’s not shy away from this lesson. Undoubtedly, 2020 has been a financially anxious year. The uncertainty which has thinned down now, was at a peak just a few months ago. If indeed we had fallen for the ‘world is coming to an end’ slogans, it wouldn’t matter.
The world hasn’t come to an end and we need to go on with a durability that can also be molded into any situation that we get thrown into. Being financially self-reliant means, you don’t cave in when the situation is out of your hands. It means, you don’t plunge into debt in the first phases of being jobless, it means you tide over whatever mess the universe belts out at you, with a full stomach and a cozy bed. Financial self-reliance also means a good night’s sleep.
Those who saved up for a rainy day, may have been able to build a big enough shelter in the chaos of the pandemic.
Those who decided that it is easier to just find that other person who can earn, lend or share financial comfort, may have found themselves at the asking end of the line often enough to make them restless.
Financial self-reliance comes before financial independence. It lies swathed in the knowledge and ability that you have something unique to offer. Your talents are worth someone else’s rupee.
Constantly nurture these talents, invest in yourself and make yourself able enough to remain financially self-reliant no matter what the external situation is.
As you go through this journey, remember to keep saving and to build a large enough umbrella when you really need it.
The year 2020 will be remembered for many reasons. I choose to remember it mostly for teaching me that self-reliance is an elemental human quality and its one that I will never give up on.
Now it’s time to say cheers to 2021 and hope that we will all be able to hold ourselves up with straight backs and broad shoulders to take on whatever this new year and years to come throw our way.
Happy New Year!