Finishing Strong

Posted by Kristin Beale in Life After Paralysis on December 08, 2020 # COVID-19, Lifestyle

This year has been tough. I’ve claimed a couple of wins (engagement, book premiere, my dog turned 8) but, overall and as far as citizen upset and international disasters are concerned, it has been tough. I’ve heard talk and seen memes about “needing 2020 to end so we can get back to normal” but, and I’m playing devil’s advocate here, what’ll happen if the clock turning midnight on January 1 doesn’t magically solve our problems? What if next year is just a continuation?

I’ll tell you what’ll happen: we’ll have to find a way to cope and find beauty in the disaster that – let’s face it – isn’t contained to the year 2020. This is just our modern day.

The first, and possibly smallest, a step toward finding that beauty is encouraging yourself and the people around you. That could look like changing your mentality, an actual shoutout, or an act of solidarity to your neighbor. It can make and has made, in my humble experience, a world of difference in your and other people’s day. Here are some suggestions!

  1. Be mindful of the small wins. If you’re doing this for your own benefit, you could write them down so you can look back on them when you need a pickup later on. If you’re doing this for other people’s benefit, it’ll be creepy if you get caught writing, “Christopher drank all his milk!” on the Notes app of your phone. When you’re encouraging others, go ahead and vocalize as it happens.
  2. Celebrate your exhaustion – it means you did work. This includes mental tiredness as well as physical tiredness, because both are indications of your action. With the coronavirus still moving, racial tension surging, and the cold weather coming, it’s easy to opt for staying inside our homes and vegging out. I do and you should applaud activity of any kind, especially if you’re doing it enough to wear you out. Go to bed early. You deserve it.
  3. Give grace. I’ll say it again: this year has been tough. I’m a shining example that receiving grace from someone is the best way to make you feel instantly loved and supported. Try this one by having more patience, listening more closely, or hugging (with a mask on) more tightly than your instinct. We all need a little extra love.
  4. Believe that you can, and believe that you will. This is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of encouraging others, and it’s so important. Humans are incredible, and a determined mind really can do almost anything. You can get through this, and the people around you can, too. Believe in yourself, and believe in each other.
  5. Surround yourself with smiles. That sounds so corny, but I’m so serious. Of course, everyone has bad days and bummer moments but, for your own good, keep your exposure to a minimum. I have a bad habit of taking on the mood of the people around me, so this is a big one. Bound yourself in positivity, and your chances for happiness are much higher.
  6. Open yourself up. Sometimes it’s hard to recycle motivation from the things around you. Try taking on a different perspective on your surroundings, seek a new opportunity for development, and/or look for lessons in your hard times. Your situation may be a bit more difficult than “normal,” but what can you learn from it? Is there something you can learn to do that’ll make life easier? Have you taken a step back and tried for objectivity?
  7. And last, take your happiness into your own hands. I understand that there are important causes and legitimate reasons for uproar but, at the end of the day, is your fussing and aggressive internet trolling leaving you contented, or pulled too tight? A bigger question: is it doing any good? This is where you need to step back and take care of yourself. What, amid all this chaos, do you need to do to be happy? Once you figure out the answer to that question, you figure out what needs to be at the top of your priorities.

I’m not saying January won’t bring an end to all the mask-wearing chaos that has claimed this year, because I have no idea what’s in store for our country. What I am saying is that there is light in this tunnel – you just have to flip the [metaphorical] switch. Generally speaking, we’re all going through the same rough year, so you need to encourage yourself and the people around you. The only way out of this is through it, so let’s try to go through with a smile on.

Kristin Beale is a native of Richmond, Virginia. She is the author of two books, Greater Things and A Million Suns, and a comic book, Date Me. Check them out and read an excerpt at https://kristinbeale.com/. Her comics can be found on Instagram @Greater.Things.Comics.

This project was supported, in part, by grant number 90PRRC0002, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.