How 2020 Made Me a Better Human

2020 has changed a lot of things for a lot of people.

We’ve had to adjust to new ways of working (or to completely new jobs or, worst of all, a lack of a job). Some of us have had to learn new roles like suddenly being a homeschool teacher to our kids or a WFH parent. And we’ve had to find new ways to communicate and stay in touch with people. 

For many of us, myself for sure, we’ve had some time for self-reflection and personal insight. Hopefully even some growth. 

With everything going on, starting even before COVID-19, I’ve changed a lot this year. 

  • Lost some big accounts due to uncontrollable circumstances.
  • Found out that a lot of people and I don’t line up on some basic ideas. (This happens to everyone, but it’s been especially noticeable this year due to opinions and beliefs around COVID-19 and BLM.)

2020 has imposed change on everyone in some shape or form, and I have not been immune. 

I don’t even feel like the same guy that I was in January. 

For instance, my daughter and partner were having one of their “spa days” a few weeks ago. They do this every once a month or so. They’ll put face masks on and meditate, eat “spa food” while listening to relaxing music, sometimes soak their feet for a bit, and then they do their nails. 

This time, they invited me. 

To be honest, they’ve invited me to do this before, but I always say no. Face masks and painted nails didn’t seem that appealing. 

But they always have so much fun, so I figured I would participate this time.

My partner and I laid in bed with face masks on while our amazing daughter massaged our feet. (She likes being the spa hostess even more than relaxing with us.) We noshed on some healthy vegetables and fruit while we talked about some goals and things we’d like to do. Then it was nail time…

I’m here, I’m going all the way.

I chose a fiery red because red is my favorite color. My kiddo isn’t the best nail beautician, but with her mom’s help, they didn’t look too bad. 

And then it hit me. I never would have done this a year ago. Even if our daughter had caught me in a particularly jovial and acquiescent mood, I would have removed the polish that night or early the next day. Certainly before anybody saw it.

But not now.

I woke up the next morning with bright red nails (and turquoise toenails because why not?) and went about my day. And guess what? Nobody cared. It was either ignored completely, or if anybody asked, they just told me how awesome they thought it was. 

A couple of times, my mind flashed to being concerned that someone would judge me for having fingernail polish on, like it’s an indicator of some big secret or something. But those flashes went away pretty quickly. 

For the most part, I was just reminded of how happy my daughter was and how much fun we had together as a family. So who cares about any judgment thrown my way?

This revelation and shift in my mindset has been slowly building over this year. 

I’ve made some changes to how I journal that has taken me to new heights with it. Journaling used to be something I did as a kind of challenge to myself. But it used to feel like a chore because I was ticking something off a checklist more than anything else. Now I look forward to it at the end of the day every single day. 

I’ve read some incredible books that have blown my mind open to new ideas about my business and my mindset. Philosophy is something that has become very important to me. I’d never given it much thought in the past, but some of the books I’ve read this year have started me on a journey down that very deep rabbit hole. 

The biggest change in my self-improvement journey is that I’ve started talking to a therapist. 

This is the one that was really uncomfortable for me at first. I never looked down on therapy as a whole, and I’ve always felt that most people, if not all, would benefit from at least occasional therapy. But, for some reason, I was still worried it would make me look weak or something to others. I was even scared to tell Melissa at first, the person that has stood by my side and supported me for seventeen years. 

Ridiculous, I know. But head trash can be extremely hard to fight sometimes.

After pushing through that initial fear of “what would people think?” I’ve started to notice how many emotions I’ve repressed over the years. It’s honestly helped me a lot, both in how I view myself and how I think about and interact with others. Seriously, everybody should have a therapist.

All of these things have made me a better person, a better dad, and a better partner. 

I’m now trying harder not to judge other people’s beliefs and opinions as much. When I encounter belief systems different from my own, I try to think about the other person’s side more. And I’m attempting to engage in deeper, more meaningful conversations about these differences. Of course, because this takes two, it doesn’t always work out as well as I’d like, but I can only control what I can control. 

I’m trying to be more present in every interaction I have. As a C on the DISC personality spectrum, I have a need to solve everybody’s problems, and a serious lack of patience. But when you’re busy thinking about how you can help or what you would do differently, you’re not really listening. So I’m trying to listen more, be more present, and ask before offering advice or solutions. 

More than anything though, I’m just trying to be more open. Open to new ideas, open to being wrong and making mistakes, and open to my emotions. Being open like this requires confidence, something that isn’t gained overnight. And something that doesn’t come naturally to me. At all. But I’m more confident than I’ve ever been thanks to all this introspection and self-work. 

My head has been filled with all of this BS for so long. Tons of self-doubt and fear and worrying about what people think of me. It’s going to take a while to clear it out. And I’ll never get all the way there because I’m human, but I’m doing my best. 

Until then, I’ll rock my painted nails when my daughter wants to paint them. And I hope to keep growing because I feel like I’m headed in the right direction. 

2020 hasn’t been easy, but I hope others are finding the silver lining that I’m slowly discovering.