Lessons of 2020

  1. Sometimes you don’t fit back into the mould you left behind – and that’s ok. 

In January I moved back to the Gold Coast after living away for two years. Within weeks I’d worked out that the place that had been my ‘home’ for 21 years didn’t really feel like ‘home’ anymore. Yes, my family were here, which was lovely, but my friends weren’t, I didn’t feel like I ‘belonged’ and the concrete jungle was not inspiring me. I’d also changed, a lot. I’m not going to ramble on, but basically, 2020 Hannah didn’t fit into the mould that 2017 Hannah left behind.  

It took me awhile to work out that not fitting back into what I left behind wasn’t a bad thing. It proved that I’d grown and changed, which is an evolution I should be proud of. 

2. You can enjoy where you are and still miss where you’ve come from. 

I like that this year has gifted me more time with my family, but my heart yearns for open space, dust and the bush – simple as that. 

3. Plans change. 

Isn’t that the truth. Right now, as I write this, I was meant to be in Europe, experiencing my first white Christmas and first big international holiday. If there’s something positive to come out of all these changed plans, it’s the fact that we’ve been forced to be adaptable, a very redeemable quality indeed. 

4. It takes about 5km of running for your problems to melt away. By 7kms nothing seems like a problem anymore (mainly because your main focus is to continue breathing). 

Before you roll your eyes at me, I’m not saying you should all take up running. What I am saying is that exercise is good for your soul. As someone who suffers from a mental illness, a run when I’m feeling anxious calms my shaking bones. When my mind feels full and my world feels like it’s going to implode, I run. It forces me to stop thinking and I focus on either my feet hitting the pavement or my breathing. Whatever worries were bound up within me seem to dissolve and the endorphins hit is the best type of medicine. 

Your salve doesn’t have to be running, it might be riding your bike, or boxing, or swimming. Just find something that requires whole body movement and forces you to stop thinking.

5. Sometimes you’ve got to decide between planting roots and growing wings. 

I’m a dreamer, we all know that. I’m also a massive paradox. I yearn to put down roots (As I write this I’m preparing to pack/unpack all my belongings for the 12th time in 4 years), but I also can’t sit still for longer than 12 months. I crave adventure, I get restless feet and the desire to wander is always too strong but at the same time, I would love to be in one spot long enough to see seasons of evolution and growth. 

6. Podcasts are the bee’s knees. 

Like seriously, I love them. 

7. The darkness of a mental illness can still grab hold of you, even when your life is filled with so much light. 

There is nothing wrong with my life. I repeat, there is nothing wrong with my life at all. I am so starkly aware of (and thankful for) that, but this year I have learnt that irrespective of how much goodness and light there is in your life, sometimes the darkness of a mental illness can still tighten its grip on you. 

In a year where there has been so much loss; loss of lives, loss of jobs and loss of livelihood, I have come out relatively unscathed. I continued to work in a meaningful job, I was close to my family and none of my village was adversely affected by COVID-19. Yet, I still had panic attacks, I still struggled to get out of bed some days and the horrors of anxiety shook deep in my bones. This isn’t a pity party, but rather a reminder to you (and myself) that it’s normal (and totally ok) for mental illness to overcome you, even when your life isn’t ‘bad’.

8. Barista made coffee is liquid gold. 

I spent 2020 making up for all the barista made coffee I missed out on while living in the middle of nowhere in 2019.  

9. Friendships can flourish from a distance. 

My friends are spread across eastern Australia. From Mount Isa, Cloncurry and Hughenden, down to Sydney, my nearest and dearest aren’t exactly ‘near’. But this year I’ve learnt that face-to-face contact isn’t a prerequisite of a strong friendship. My friends and I have jammed phone calls into my 1.2km commute to work, have spammed each other with voice messages on Facebook Messenger at midnight and at 4am and have spent hours facetiming while we’ve each baked banana bread or hung the washing. These forms of communication have been the threads that have held my friendships together and you know what – I think they have made our friendships stronger.

10. If you continue to water the seeds you have sown, there will be fruit. 

My new year’s resolution was to ‘continue to water the seeds I have sown.’ And I’m proud to say, that I think I’ve done that. Whether it’s been personal or professional seeds I’ve been watering, I’ve seen fruit for seeds I knew I planted, fruit for seeds I’d forgotten I’d planted and fruit for seeds I didn’t even know I’d planted. As I sit back and watch my garden flourish, I can’t help but be proud of what I’ve planted and will continue to plant in good faith that this life is beautiful and full of so much goodness. 

What were your biggest lessons of 2020? I’d really love to know. Reply to this post, or head on over to my Instagram @the.urban.farmhouse and share with me your biggest victories of the year that was. 

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