An Open Letter to 2020

“2020 is a fire that will leave you burnt, beaten, and bitter or a fire that will leave you refined, stronger, and wiser. Whichever mindset you choose is up to you, so choose wisely.” —Remi Adeleke

The final days of the fastest, longest year of our lives is coming to an end. And let me say what many of us are thinking/saying out loud, “Thank God almighty!”

While a huge part of me feels like this has been the worst year of my life, part of me doesn’t feel like it was.

I was thinking about it the other day. And I had so many thoughts and questions run through my mind as I reflected on one heck of a year.

“For real though, did I really have that terrible of a year?”

“Or is it the fact that I’m so resilient from my past experiences I barely felt the effects?” “Is it my past experiences along with a strong mindset, that makes me feel that 2020 wasn’t all that bad?” “Did my emotional intelligence play a bigger part than I realized that I didn’t react to what happened to me, but instead responded?”

As I’m still searching for the answers, I decided to write 2020 a letter. And it wouldn’t be fun if I didn’t share it with you guys now would it?

An Open Letter to 2020 - She Sweats Diamonds - Audrey Leighton wrap dress - Schutz taleen sandals - black dress with organza sleeves - Jennifer Behr earrings
Dress by: Audrey Leighton Vintage & Clutch by: Lineij

Dear 2020,
I did not have a great start to the new year, much less a great start to the next decade because of you. You were a roller coaster of emotions and didn’t just hand us all lemons, you cut them open and squeezed the juice on our paper cuts. Yeah, that’s how much you dished out this year.

This was supposed to be the best year for a lot of us.

It was the year for those of us who had big dreams, big plans, and big goals to step up and out for ourselves. It was the year we could begin a new decade with a clean slate.

2020 was the year we were going to go all out and execute. It was the year many, especially myself, finally felt like we got a good foot hold in life to begin our climb to the top.

But no. You not only you pushed us down the side of the mountain, you watched as we tried to hang on. Then when watching us struggle to hang on wasn’t enough, you decided to cut the ropes. We didn’t even get a chance to rappel off the mountain ourselves.

Slowly, businesses began to shut down. Events, flights, appointments, and gym sessions were cancelled. As the entire world started to shut down, people either lost their jobs or were put on furlough.

Let me be the first to say that no one could’ve predicted what you brought this year.

On top of unleashing a global pandemic AND a recession, you took my favorites, Kobe Bryant, Alex Trebek, Sean Connery, and Fred Willard, along with countless of talented celebrities we needed.

Yes, I said ‘needed’ because inspirational people were being taken from us.

The one I needed the most? Chadwick Boseman. I was looking forward to more of his work, his stories, seeing more of him, and his talent. I cried and mourned for days over someone I had never met.

And I wondered why I was so upset, especially with the death of a celebrity. Then I realized I needed people like Chadwick to inspire me; people who used their fame/platform to do good, leave a legacy behind, and love others humbly.

I felt like everything that used to inspire me began to fade away.

In turn, I became a hermit crab. It took me 90 days before I finally went outside for a walk and to be with nature again.

And during a time the black community was finally getting their overdue spotlight, Asians were being targeted as the reason for this global pandemic. So when I did go for a few walks, I made sure I wore a hoodie. I didn’t want anyone to know who I was underneath the baggy clothes. Yep, you read that right. I was afraid to be myself at one point because that much hate was happening.

You made sure that you were the year to remember.

However, with the many struggles and challenges you brought this year, you also gave me many things to be grateful for and I bet you didn’t expect that now did you?

Here’s what you thought you brought versus what also happened: 

People got sick. // People also began to love themselves more by taking care of themselves.

People of different races pitted against each other. // People from all races began to learn, have conversations, and support black-owned/POC-owned (small) businesses.

We were forced to stay at home…a lot. // But we also purged our lives of things that no longer served us and finally got organized. We also soaked up moments with our pets and loved ones we hardly spent time with before the pandemic. Oh and we got to actually live in our homes that we’ve paid for (and redecorate it) with our hard-earned money.

Travel was restricted/banned. // We also learned how much more we want to travel versus collecting things.

In-person time with family and friends were taken away. // We stayed connected and also reconnected with those most important to us via technology. At the same time, we also learned how to disconnect, take better care of ourselves, and relax more.

For me personally, here’s what you did versus what also happened:

My day job furloughed me. // I took classes at Columbia, Yale, and the University of Virginia.

I wasn’t able to see my mom for three weeks. // When I finally got a chance to see her, being in my mom’s presence was a gift in of itself. If it’s even possible, I love her more this year.

My savings account dwindled down a lot. // Not having a lot money increased my love for vintage fashion/lifestyle and luxury fashion/beauty even more.

Inspiration to create faded. // I partnered with my best guy friend and we finally finished a song that was long overdue. I also worked with one of my dream brands, AllModern, on a bedroom refresh project during a time when I needed to rest a lot AND She Sweats Diamonds also received some media coverage/press.

Health problems. // Although I didn’t bring on my current health issues, I am thankful for the health I do have because things could be worse.

2020, you also helped me increase my faith in myself and God. 

You gave me the opportunity to truly trust God and His amazing plans for me. And you gave me many opportunities to be grateful for even the littler things in life that I took for granted in the past, like having a daily routine.

As we prepare to say goodbye to a year unlike any other, I happily welcome your successor. Why? Because you showed me the true beauty of life.

You gave me perspective and how to handle the new year.

And I bet you thought you psyched me out, haha! You thought 2020 was the year to scare me? Oh no, honey. Please. You just kept fanning the blaze for 2021.

And in case you forgot, fire and pressure creates diamonds, my friend.

2021 will be the year I rebuild myself, my health, and my brand. It will be the year I put myself first to evolve and grow …without society’s ridiculous expectations and timelines.

I have no idea what your successor will bring or where I’ll end up by this time next year. What I do know is that you brought more positive changes to my life when you thought you brought destruction.

And you know what? It feels good to know and see that I survived your wrath and came out a stronger and shinier diamond.

That said, let me show you the exit and give you some lovely parting words, “Who’s the real winner now?!”

Oh, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

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