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Image / Self / Real-life Stories

This challenging year has taught me that it’s ok to be vulnerable


By Louise Slyth
30th Dec 2021
This challenging year has taught me that it’s ok to be vulnerable

Before Covid-19, Louise Slyth was a worrier. But 2021 has gifted her with a new perspective, and lease of life. 


There is no doubt that 2021 has been challenging for us all.  Before the pandemic, no-one could have foreseen the physical, emotional, and economic toll that this terrible virus unleashed upon the world. Many of us are still reeling from the havoc wreaked to our lives and our plans. Sadly, we are not over the worst.

Yet lately, I have been striving to find the life lessons from the disruption 2020 has brought because I want to believe that there is least one upside.

Newsflash – we are all human beings

Whilst 2021 has removed lots of privileges that we previously took for granted, it has also provided us with an enforced mental boot camp. For some, a period of enforced quiet has prompted bigger life decisions, like changing career, having a child, or changing a relationship. Would any of us have reached these conclusions without being actively pushed off the hamster wheel?

Soft underbelly

We have learned that its ok to be vulnerable. I have had several Skype work meetings from my kitchen table with no make-up on. I have lost count of the number of conference calls I have attended with children vying for their parent’s attention in the background. Newsflash – we are all human beings.

Perhaps in 2021 when we are hopefully back in offices, we will be kinder to each other

We now know more about each other’s home lives than we ever did, and that’s no bad thing. We have exposed the soft underbelly of our domestic situations, and we are all the stronger for it. Perhaps in 2021 when we are hopefully back in offices, we will be kinder to each other, because at the end of the day, we have seen each other at our worst, and we survived it.

Lockdown forced something of a relationship edit – we have all been guilty in the past of social obligations based on history, rather than pleasure. Along with cleaning out the presses, some of us must surely have had a chance to review whether all the relationships we hold still serve us. I have certainly streamlined my contacts list; if you weren’t there for my worst, you don’t get to enjoy me at my best. Equally, there are some relationships I have rekindled, which goes to show that when the chips of life are down, you find out who your friends really are.

Perspective

I have a clearer sense of self now. The first 6 weeks of lockdown, for example, were hell for me. It took weeks to move through the grieving process for the life I had, and to accept what had been asked of us. I ached for nights out with bright colours, full glasses, and loud laughter.

Even though we continue to live in uncertain times, I now know I have a lot to be grateful for.

But then something amazing happened… I set myself new (albeit smaller) goals and worked towards achieving them. I focused on pursuits that were not only internal to my home but internal to myself – aromatherapy, yoga, learning to cook. I now know that I can cope with having to pivot, and that I have a hitherto unrecognised well of resilience and strength. Many of us will have realised this year that we are stronger than we thought we were.

Before COVID 19, I was a worrier. As a classic A-type personality, I was kept awake at night with a list of random and persistent concerns. Like one of those “whack a mole” games, I’d get rid of one, only for another one to pop up and haunt my sleepless nights. Now, with perspective, I see most of those worries as trivial. I had enjoyed calm seas for so long, that I was anesthetized to the happiness of my life.

I had forgotten that really bad things happened, things that were worth worrying about. I had convinced myself that I was in charge of my life, when in reality, all of my plans could be whipped away by a random gust of fate. Even though we continue to live in uncertain times, I now know I have a lot to be grateful for. 2021 has given all of us the gift of illumination – we must live life to the full, because we don’t know what’s around the corner.