Bad Movie Night
You remember those days when you were a kid at a sleepover with your friends? You were in your pajamas, stuffing your face with pizza, snacks, and soda like nothing could go wrong. Then one of your friends pulled a DVD out of their bag for a movie you’d definitely never heard of and that probably shouldn’t exist. “This is the worst movie ever made,” they said. “And it’s gonna change your life.” 2020 was a lot like that bad movie night. We may have just endured what was undeniably the greatest disasterpiece of our lives, but at least we got to grow closer by suffering through it together.
And maybe that isn’t a universal example. I know that some of you don’t have the luxury of coming out of 2020 without experiencing tragedy you can’t make light of. There are some losses and traumas too terrible to joke about, and for those of you who aren’t able to smile, laugh, and look at the silver lining right now, we understand. We will be patient and kind and caring towards you. Just because we suffered together doesn’t mean we all suffered the same way.
But the world will get better. The wounds will close, the scars will fade, and there will be opportunities to feel true joy again. Maybe 2021 will be the year everything finally comes around. I desperately hope it will be for you. For me personally, I get to come out of 2020 being newly married to my best friend, having finally gotten a job that lets me help people, and knowing every step forward I make in my life is going to bring me closer to starting my new family. Even if your start to 2021 isn’t as optimistic, there’s nothing set in stone saying the good can’t come for you soon after.
If I may give you some food for thought, I’d like to encourage those of you still hurting to try out some advice you might not have considered. Take a break from the sources of sadness that weigh on you the heaviest. Maybe you’re addicted to the news like I am, and something always seems to be going wrong. This next year, I’m going to try taking better care of my mental health by finding a balance between consuming endless amounts of bad news and cutting myself off from it to the point of ignorance. Yes, bad things will always be happening, and it isn’t wrong to make yourself aware of it. But taking a break and actively looking for the good news in the world will help you a little bit each time in starting to see the world in a positive light again.
Or maybe you’re working a dead-end job that you hate like I was, where the only reason you’re staying with it is because of the money. Consider this a wake-up call to finally begin hunting for a new job that will help you live the life you’ve always wanted. It might not be easy, and no one’s saying you have to change jobs if it’s unsafe. But if you can and there’s a chance this change will be good for you, I’d strongly suggest taking that leap of faith and looking for a new career path that can meet your financial and emotional needs.
I had a mantra growing up I would recite to myself whenever things got hard. “The darkness from the experiences within you is neither good nor evil unless you choose it to be so.” And no matter how many times I repeated it to myself during tough times, I never truly understood what it meant like I do now in 2020. You will suffer, you will ache, and you will cry. These things are unavoidable and happen to everybody you’ve ever met. But you always have a choice. Will you let the pain harden your heart, turning you callous and cold? Or will you let your suffering strengthen you, resolving you to become kinder, gentler, more caring to others and yourself? There will always be bad things in this world, and the way I see it, the people who have gone through the greatest hardship have the greatest potential to help others. Take this opportunity as you’re healing to become the person you wish was there for you when you needed them most. If we each make that choice, a better world is truly inevitable.
Take care of yourselves and others, my friends. Even if next year’s movie night sucks, I’ll be right there with all the snacks and drinks and blankets you need to help get you through it. Stay safe, and I’ll see you all at the sleepover. And between you and me, I doubt this year will ever get a sequel.