For many people, 2020 will forever go down as a beacon of both hope and danger.
People were thrown into isolation, forced to drastically modify their habits and redefine what their “normal” looks like. Seniors in highschool didn’t have a shot at prom, graduates of college faced a spooked job market, parents taught their kids from home, and the price of webcams increased by 4x. Generation Zoomer took on a whole knew meaning — human connectivity evolved in the direction where a face on the other side of a glass screen would have to suffice.
On the other hand, people learned the value of just that.
These things we never thought could be taken away, the sacred rights of everyday life, came to a pause.
For myself personally, the news of the pandemic and that school would go fully online occurred in March while at a beach house in Texas. Waves crashed as the matrimony of all that was normal came to a grounding halt. All of this while wrapping up writing my first ever book.
I remember going for a run at night; it was a foggy night with dreary thunder rumbling off in the distance. Oil refineries hung on the horizon as wind whipped a dreary runner slowly grinding away at a large bridge that rises 1/2 mile out into thin air — the final view before being greeted with the sight of the ocean.
I remember carrying the weight of the unknown. What matters? What is meaningful work? What does it mean to change the world?
I didn’t get many answers, only that the only option is forward. To fall still is to fall prey to a tempting sadness that can pull you under at a moments notice. I’m not advocating for working 24/7, that isn’t what this is about. This is concerning the pursuit of meaningful suffering — what are you going to move from point A to point B?
I think we have all learned empathy and a touch of stoicism. It is sobering to realize that the world can throw a literal wrench into the timeline you had so conveniently believed to be possible for so long. But the truth is, we did make it through. That book did get complete. Those runs did happen. Those classes did wrap up. That business did get started.
When I look back on 2020 I am grateful for the opportunities. But more than that, I am thankful for the failures. Failures that brought clarity about what I wanted. Evidently, selling solar contracts over the phone was the path I needed to take to understand precisely what I do and don’t want for myself.
I’m a positive person. I don’t think I have ever hit the true rock bottom until this summer. Working a soulless job where you didn’t believe in the team, company, product, or ethos is far more painful than any form of physical pain. It robs you of your joy in the afternoon and the energy that should accompany you when you wake up.
And so I quit.
For the first time in my life I quit a job, understanding that my time, soul, and energy was better spent elsewhere. The cost of not acting on an alternative sooner left a scar on me I will never forget.
What did I learn?
Given the choice to grow or to earn, choose growth. Given the choice between starting or staying, choose to start. Know your worth and know when it is worth fighting for. To be an entrepreneur is to repeatedly solve compelling problems for others that have not been solved yet in a sustainable fashion.
You need people. Collaboration isn’t a means to an end, it is the gateway to growth and relationships. If you don’t believe in your community, change it or find another one. Respect the potential in others, and be humble about your own.
2021 presents itself as a turning point for all of us. We have become more accustomed to the unknown. To carving out our own day despite the friction of sacrificing for the greater good. And so I am encouraged.
I am encouraged that a new year presents itself with new failures and lessons. I plan on going full steam ahead, giving everything to my work, relationships, and community. I will do my best to be everything I can be for family, society, and those around me.
Because at the end of the day, that is what we have.
People, and what we did to help them.