2021 is not the year for doing New Year’s resolutions. We’ve all been through enough introspection and that has led us to embrace the fact that we are all fabulous JUST THE WAY WE ARE. We tore down and rebuilt ourselves emotionally, mentally and physically too many times to count in the past 10 months, that in 2021 we are giving ourselves a break. But some positives came from the isolation; the world was forced to slow down, to readjust, to re-evaluate.
2020 saw the temporary experience of cleaner air brought about by widespread shutdowns, so much so that in India where the pollution is amongst the world’s worst people began to see the Himalayas for the first time in their lives from their towns. We also banded together as communities to wear masks in public, check in to venues and sanitise EVERYTHING in a bid to keep each other safe. We also embraced peace, the United Nations called to end wars while the world confronted a common enemy, Covid and from that, a ceasefire was declared between the Saudis and Houthi rebels in Yemen. Sure, 2020 was a conundrum of uncertainty, but some powerful moments led us to learn a hell of a lot in 2020 and for the Stella team these were the 20 things we learnt in 2020.
1. The true value of connection
Covid certainly rejuvenated our need for community and social cohesion. We loved watching the people in Italy, one of the worst-hit counties, creating music from their balconies and dancing in the streets (while remaining socially distance of course)
2. We adapted to work from anywhere
Remote working turned mainstream in 2020, the pandemic has forever shifted the way we work and where we work from. We saw start-ups such as Zoom and Slack thrive with teams becoming accountable for their workloads from the comfort of their own homes. Companies saw productivity increase and millions of people got the chance to experience days without long commutes and long public transport ques.
2. We saw overnight Innovation
We learned we had to innovate, pivot and adapt overnight both personally and professionally. Cafes turn into takeaway venues, gin distillers making hand sanitiser and businesses undergoing rapid digital changes to think outside the box and reimagine their business models to adapt to the everchanging pandemic climate.
We took a lot of things for granted pre covid – our connections, family, friends, leisure and freedom. Things that we had never questioned until it was taken away from us. The first time we were able to sit in a restaurant as a team after lockdown and the waiter asked us if we wanted sparkling or still was one of the greatest memories we have.
5. Education was reimagined and redesigned and we realised that teachers are the MVPs
With schools closed all around the world, there was an overnight transformation in education, parents had to juggle work and also becoming their children’s teachers’ assistants. Classes were digitalised and offered online learning, home-schooling became the norm and it exposed parents to what their children do on a day-to-day basis (also who knew year 5 math was so hard!)
6. We learned the value of corporate responsibility
We watched big companies stepped up, they donated food, money and medical equipment to people affected by the coronavirus. Others like McDonald’s offered free coffees to healthcare workers and Johnson & Johnson stepped up and gave millions of masks for free, we started to take notice of what the big companies were doing and how they responded to the pandemic. It was the perfect time to see how seriously companies were taking their CSR and how involved they were with the community, employers and the environment.
7. That hygiene is a priority, not a privilege
We saw huge lifestyle changes and the practice of better hygiene. We taught our children to sanitise and it became a handbag necessity. We’re covering our mouths when we cough, washing our fruit and vegetables and sanitising after we touch anything. Cleanliness is next to godliness after all.
8. We learned the importance of home and space
People reassessed and renegotiated where home is, lots of people left the big cities for more space. For the first time in our lives rent could be negotiated due to high vacancy rates with travellers leaving Australia overnight. We were spending a lot more time at home and we looked at our spaces differently so we could reimagine our living areas and make them our offices.
9. We reassessed our priorities
We were no longer obsessed with keeping up with the Jones or buying that new shiny car we wanted. We instead longed for Dettol wipes, a hug from our parents, toilet paper, health and a full fridge of food.
10. We learned that spending more time with family members was of the utmost importance moving forward.
We had meaningful conversations with our families over the dinner table and supported each other through the rollercoaster of fear and elation. Mums and dads were home for bath and bedtime and parents home-schooled. It forced us to be home and present which will continue to include in our lives moving forward.
11. We (secretly) enjoyed a quieter less busy life
There were no playdates, no weekend sport, no restaurant bookings, we saved time not having to travel in peak hour traffic and we loved it. Life is busy and sometimes overwhelming; we had no other choice but to take a break and embrace the slower pace.
12. We learned the importance of Front Line Workers, like our medical staff, cleaners, aged workers, childcare workers, check out operators and shelf fillers.
Despite the hardships and health risks millions of essential workers continued to do their jobs during the pandemic. They kept us fed, they cared for the most vulnerable and sacrificed time at home with their own families to be there to support the wider community and keep us safe. We can never truly repay them, but we will continue to applaud and be so proud of them for their superhero efforts.
13. We have a much more in-depth understanding of our vulnerabilities
Access to social support and the sudden loss of income showed us that the security we once had could be lost overnight. We embraced the change, tightened our budgets and realised that our most important commodity was our health.
14. The important need of daily exercise
We embraced the governments’ allowance for exercise during lockdown as our ‘us’ time and vowed never to miss a gym session again (we’re still working on this btw) but on a serious note, there is no denying that exercise plays an ever-important role in our mental health as well as physical wellbeing. We will never take that for granted ever again.
15. It is okay not to be okay
We asked our friends and family more if they were ok. We prioritised video calls to check in with them and we checked in on our elderly neighbours. Covid-19 taught us the importance of asking the question and being there for those closest to us that were struggling.
16. Technology tethers us even when we’re far apart
We had Wednesday wine diaries using the House Party App and Zoom trivia nights which were more fun than going out because we were still able to catch up with our friends and family (while wearing our PJs). There is no denying that technology brought us together, it gave us the means to see each other’s faces without masks and the opportunity to feel together even though we physically couldn’t be.
17. Growth can happen in any environment
The year threw us some curve balls but we told ourself we would come out of lockdown better than we went in and we did. We became better cooks, better friends and some of us even picked up some new hobbies. We learned it was the simple things that got us through and we have promised ourselves that in 2021 the simple things will continue to be appreciated.
18. Freedom should never be taken for granted
We will one day tell our grandchildren about the time it was illegal to leave our front yards, and we will remind them that their freedom is something that they should never take for granted. Ever.
19. You don’t need to be productive all of the time.
Taking some time out for yourself isn’t selfish or lazy. It’s an important part of self-care and must be prioritised to keep you firing on all cylinders. You may feel like you need to be there for everyone else all of the time, but if you’re not at 100% how can you give your best to anyone who needs it?
20. We holidayed in Australia and put much-needed funds into our economy and struggling small businesses (we also learned how to cook banana bread)
With borders shut and travel restricted once we were able to travel again, we holidayed in our own backyards which we had forgotten were so magical. After the horror fires, we endured at the end of 2019 and the start of 2020 we were encouraged by advertising campaigns to #supportlocal and visit the towns that were affected, and buy their produce and help them were we could. We couldn’t think of a more positive or heart warming thing for Australians to do, and while we enjoyed ourselves eating local produce and shopping up a storm at the homewares stores we also pumped money into our economy. We learned that home is where the heart is. Always.
We know that the fall out from Covid-19 is far from over, and we’re unsure as we write this piece what the ‘new normal’ looks like but what we do know for certain is whatever 2021 brings, we’re ready and we’re looking at the future through different lenses, all because of 2020.