2020 has been…a year! It’s undoubtably taught us so much about ourselves, as well those with whom we’ve spent an extended amount of time. (This year, for example, I learned that I’m more of a baker than a cook.) So, we asked 11 women we love what they learned, and please add your own…
“This year, I learned that taking care of my mental health requires consistent work and effort. When the pandemic began, I took a break from all of my creative endeavors, and it was my biggest mistake. Be it therapy, meditation or learning new skills — for me, these practices turned out to be paramount to a healthy state of mind.” — Ellen Capuano-Parker, critical care nurse
“When the pandemic hit in March, I dove into the bunker, bought three bags of rice, and didn’t look back, except when it came to thinking about my hair stylist, Fatima. I spent countless hours staring back at myself as a tiny box in a video conferencing screen, dreaming about how freakin’ good I would look from the waist up if I had Senegalese twists. It’s given me a profound respect for the people who are integral parts of our lives and whose important work often goes overlooked. For now, I keep Fatima and her loved ones in my thoughts and count the days until we can be (safely) together again.” — Allison Rhone, social media director for Planned Parenthood
“I learned that work is like an effing VACATION compared to caring for a baby all day by myself for days on end. Seriously, when I have photo shoots, I arrive home energized! After a day with the baby, I collapse with exhaustion. It is the most physically and energetically laborious undertaking to date, and my ass has been humbled. I thought, ‘So many people do this parenting thing. It can’t be THAT hard!’ I had no idea.” — Christine Han, photographer.
“I was shocked that I eventually hit a wall with watching murder mysteries. But for real… I always wondered if I was lying to myself or convincing myself that I enjoyed my own company as a sort of preemptive defense mechanism to not finding a life partner. But this year I learned that it is unequivocally true, and I feel very lucky. I’m good at being alone without feeling lonely. I recognize that a lot of that is tied to the fact that nothing bad happened to me directly, so I didn’t have to weather a tragedy alone, but knowing that that baseline exists is a great comfort to me.” — Nora Taylor, Clever editor
“There have been more profound revelations this year — the marvel of the seasons, the adaptability of kids, the drudgery of housework — but a joyous new discovery for me has been TikTok. I’m just feasting at the buffet. I’m so new to it and so clumsy that the algorithm hasn’t pegged me yet, so I’m seeing all this wild stuff. A Korean guy making a mini duvet cover out of an omelet, moms and their teen daughters doing elaborately choreographed dances, a guy decoding Boston hockey slang… It’s the best substitute I can find for being in the mix.” — Happy Menocal, artist
“One beautiful discovery during 2020 was the generosity of the baking community. From a longing to provide something meaningful in these crazy times came Bakers Against Racism, which provided us pastry types a way to pay it forward in our communities. I was moved and grateful to be a part of it.” — Zoë François, baker and cookbook author
“I noticed my everyday headspace had shifted from optimistic to angry and perpetually stressed. But at some point, after changing jobs and moving twice, I had an old conflict management rule pop back into my head — ‘Remember to assume best intentions.’ *exhales deeply* For me, it’s easier to interact with other humans when my baseline assumption is that they’re guided by good intentions. This reminder has allowed me to extend more empathy and understanding toward others and myself.” — Liz Ryan, illustrator
“2020 has taught me that I love makeup. My favorite brand is Fenty because we all know Rihanna does it best! Even though I’m not seeing people socially, I still wear lipstick at home and look forward to when I can wear it while gathered with friends on a rooftop.” — Leslie Ruth, registered nurse
“This year taught me how to stop pretending my shit was together. I spent the greater part of the ‘Tiger King-Last Dance’ period of the pandemic making excuses for why I missed an email, or forgot that last item on the to-do list, instead of admitting I was taking my second shower of the day that was reserved for crying. It felt freeing to say to my boss: ‘I might not be able to get to that today,’ or admitting to my son: ‘It’s hard for Mommy to work at home and be a mommy at the same time.’ Because truth be told, we are all crying and ignoring our emails together. Why not be honest about it?” — Hannah-Faye Allred, minister
“I learned to sew! I watched YouTube tutorials and became obsessed. One shirt pattern led to a jacket and three dresses. In an effort to be more sustainable, I started volunteering at FabScrap to sort deadstock fabric and buy fabric from them. It has been so much fun.” — Natasha Janardan, photographer
“This year, I learned that if you want first dibs on the remote, you have to be smart. The easiest way to do this is to hide it in the late afternoon, when no one cares about remotes. Then, when the kids are in bed or your dog has been walked or whatever it is that needs to be done is done, you can find it first. Of course this will require some acting, but after all the hours of TV 2020 has given us, I know it will be Oscar-worthy.” — Kate Baer, author of What Kind of Woman
What did you learn this year? Happily waving goodbye to 2020 with you all!
(Photo of Vivian Vance and Lucille Ball.)