2020: The Year of Resilience

2020 is the year of resilience. How to build resilience in troubling times.
Photography: Gina Sheldon

When I reflect on what 2020 has brought me, it is the gift of resilience. Much like my journey with cancer, the gifts of the year have brought me life learnings I can carry through for years to come.

When the pandemic first became a reality in March, I relearned the gift of the pause and the slow down.

Initially I thought slowing down meant it was a chance for me to gain clarity and escape the hustle of the city, but when I look back, the slow down was much more than that. It offered me the space to feel so uncomfortable that I finally had to acknowledge the pain I have been in.


Resilience is often brought up to be the “push through” or “bounce back,” but for me, resilience is much more than that. It’s about managing your energy so you not just get up and “bounce back” but you lean on the resources that help you grow and thrive.

There were many mornings this year where I woke up feeling lonely, heartbroken, and depressed. Coping with loss, unclear of the stability of my career, feeling the gravity of the Black Lives Matter movement, fear of the health and safety of myself and my loved ones – all just bubbling at the surface level.

This year though I broke into the inner layers of what was going on underneath the surface. Why were certain situations so painful to my core and so retraumatizing? I had to dig deep to uncover the “why.” Have you asked yourself ‘why?’ lately and objectively searched for the answers? By doing this, this is where I found my resilience.

The below are a few approaches I took in guiding me to set up the foundation for how I continue to work toward more peace and evolution in my life’s journey:

Saying I’m not ok – out loud

My safe spaces this year have been in support groups, therapy and with a less-than-handful of loved ones. I have shared all of my fears, my insecurities, and my pain. A safe space for me means an environment that is non-judgemental, a space that is filled with more listening than talking, and it’s a space that is not about ‘finding the solution’. Sometimes all you need when you reveal you’re not feeling ok, is just an open ear. I’ve found that by sharing my feelings out loud it’s not just for the other person to listen but to truly acknowledge my current state.

In opening up, my heart knows what it feels like to have heaviness lifted from it just by saying those complex little words of “I’m not ok”.

Turning toward self-compassion

It’s a lesson I actually coach on but coaching people on a specific area does not mean that you do not actually need it yourself; and that’s ok to admit that. What does giving yourself self-compassion look like? It’s different for everyone but knowing that I need it has been the most important step. Often times we are so outward focused, feeling compassion for others – but that same care and kindness, ask yourself, do you give it back to yourself? When you stumble do you accept it and acknowledge it’s a part of life or do you judge and criticize yourself?

Practicing boundaries

Practicing boundaries for me meant sharing the message that I can have compassion for you and for others but my needs come first. It’s truly painful and uncomfortable to share this with those you love and when you start practicing boundaries with people who aren’t used to it, the reception is definitely not taken in stride. But just because there may be guilt, anger, frustration from those around you for expressing your needs – does not mean you are wrong. Practicing boundaries means you are stepping more into yourself and your power.

Exploring inward

I’ve always been an advocate for turning inward but this year even more so. I journaled daily in some form whether free form or with prompts. I expressed myself, for my eyes only, but in doing so it solidified and gave me clarity on the areas I want to focus on.

Find time for you to explore – whether it’s through writing, meditating, or giving yourself some kind of space to acknowledge all that is within. I have a few journal prompts I compiled especially if you are new to journaling.

Identifying joy

Joy has been a hard one for me to feel this year. I’m sure so many people can relate to that. When I asked myself ‘What brought me joy?’ I wasn’t sure of the answer so I had to actively search for it. What did bring me joy? It didn’t feel like big monumental experiences of travel or get togethers with people I love, but joy came in the form of the little moments that I gifted myself. Feeling joy to make my cup of matcha each morning, honoring myself with quiet moments to just be, making the decision to turn off the TV and open up a book – I found great joy in some of the softer, often unnoticed moments in life.


So this year, I found my resilience not in pushing through – which sounds so…forced.

I found resilience in rediscovering myself and in providing for me.

Can you think back to this year and think of times where you built your resilience? Luckily for us all, we can build resilience at any time – no one was born with more or less of it. We all just accumulate and build on our foundation throughout our journeys.

Sending you all love, healing and abundance for the new year.

2020 is the year of resilience. How to build resilience in troubling times.

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