You’ve worked hard

Happy New Year!

I was trying to draft a blog post yesterday for a year-ender, but as with every day in 2020, words were difficult to come by. It’s kind of ironic because my word for 2020 was WORDS, and with the “extra” time I got from being on lockdown and working from home, I thought I’d be brimming with words and writing non-stop and finishing all the things I set out to do.

However… *gestures wildly into the world and the chaos*

But now we are in the new year, and while it is true that January 1 doesn’t magically change things or end all the struggles of the past year, the thought of having something new and even just writing down a different year seems…hopeful.

A few weeks ago, I received an email about an upcoming project and while it was interesting, I hesitated in joining because I didn’t know if I could do it. I didn’t have anything to show for myself, and I felt like a fraud even thinking about it because I didn’t finish anything in the past months.

Except the not finishing thing wasn’t really the truth, because I did finish writing some things. Not really the ones I expected to write, but 2020 hasn’t been what we expected anyway, so maybe it was also the year we ended up doing unexpected things, right?

To recap, a few things that I managed to finish that I told myself I should be proud of:

And not to mention all the other blog posts I wrote for work, and the small work I did for the WIPs I have that are still progress, no matter how little words I wrote or how many steps back I took because of how much I went back to edit again. These may be small writing victories, but they are still victories, and that has to count for something, right?

If you have been following me on Twitter, you’ll notice that my tweets seemed to have been taken over by BTS. I never thought I’d get into them because I liked understanding the lyrics of the songs I listen to but after a particularly challenging day at work, I turned to their Dynamite music video to cheer myself up. That weekend, I fell right into the rabbit hole: I watched video after video, friends sent me links of essential things to watch, I learned their names, found more content and just fell in love with these goofy, talented men. I don’t know exactly why, but maybe I just needed to hold on to something joyful during what turned out to be the bleakest months of 2020 for me.

From Life Goes On
Look at these adorable dorks 💜 (Also, I really just want to put this photo here for extra joy haha)

One of the interesting things I noticed as I got into the fandom is how often people say, “You’ve worked hard” as a form of affirmation. I think this is a cultural thing, though, and not exclusive to BTS, although I have seen them say this to each other and to Army often. As someone who grew up with affirmations like “Great job” and “Amazing work,” “You’ve worked hard” almost seems like it’s lacking because it doesn’t seem to recognize whatever results you have to show. It’s almost like the results didn’t really matter–which of course, they do, but there is a heavier value placed on the effort exerted over the outcome.

And maybe that’s what we all need to hear after a year like 2020. Whether we have achieved our goals or we struggled to stay afloat for most of the year, maybe we need to recognize that we have worked hard, and that is okay. Maybe the work we did is to recognize the good things amidst the darkness and chaos, and that’s okay. Maybe working hard meant learning how to rest, learning how to admit you’re not okay. Maybe it’s learning that it’s okay to take time, that it’s okay if this is all you could manage to do now. Maybe it’s learning to be kind to yourself in a year that seemed to be so cruel.

I was thinking last night that 2020 didn’t deserve any words, any write-up and all that because of how hard it has been. It’s better that we just leave it behind and look forward and hope that 2021 will be better.

But maybe we shouldn’t sell ourselves short, too. And before I really get into this new year, I’d like to look at my past self to tell her this: You’ve worked hard in 2020.

This message goes out to you, too, the one who is reading this. 🙂

As for what plans I have in 2021? Well, I have learned to manage my expectations a little from the year that was, that’s for sure. I will work hard in 2021, too–maybe a little bit more in the past year, but also remembering to be kind to myself and to others who are also working hard today and in the next days.

I don’t know what’s coming up this year, but I pray that we will always have hope in the days to come.

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