What, exactly, has the last two years taught us? And where do we go from here? At the moment, the world seems very unstable where the changes don't seem to stop. Can we really take anything useful from the past two years?
These questions got me thinking if there was anything to take from what seemed like a very chaotic two years. Below are five lessons that we could take forward into our future to continue on our journey ever-forward.
1. Everyone is doing their best with what they've got.
2020 and 2021 shows us how divided our opinion can be. In the past this division was our nation or culture versus other nations or cultures but the 20s division was different. People within our same culture, city, village or even family suddenly seemed to have wildly different opinions and thoughts on topics that arose. These divisions often being fuelled by social media algorithms that selectively showed individuals more of their own thoughts back at them without showing any counter-arguments effectively nullifying critical thinking skills. Even more frightening is the fact that a whole generation has grown up with social media algorithms guiding their social and emotional life with the full effects of this yet to be felt on society as a whole. I suspect that in the early 20s we saw a brief preview as to what adulthood could look like for them.
A life lesson we could take from all this is a way to look at everyone with more compassion. Everyone has a background story, an emotional past and baggage (including you). Everyone is doing what they can with what they've got. No one wants a raw deal or an uncomfortable life. Everyone will use their skillset to avoid pain or discomfort and possibly 'win' at the game of life. Some are trying to help or advise others to avoid their version of pain. When you see people as whole with a past and future (not just the present you are experiencing), you can develop compassion.
Everyone is doing their best with what they've got.
2. No one likes change (and the world is changing rapidly).
The next thing that the early 20s has shows us is how rapidly life situations can change. It has been a couple of years of constant change of rules and environment where no one really knew what was coming next from leaders down to children and had to deal with the present day as best they could. We, as people, generally like stability and calm with small incremental changes that we can control and the last couple of years was definitely not that.
The world is changing rapidly. Rules and regulations cannot keep up especially if they are coming from rigid minds that don't have a growth mindset. The more rigid the mindset, the more the person despises change. However, everyone dislikes constant change after change which is what the early 20s have given us. Just as you are feeling the pain of so much change, so is everyone else, some even more so. Having compassion for others and deciding what you personally want is the key (quick shoutout to #4).
3. You can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs.
This is wonderful old saying that rings even more true for our current times. I can't speak for every reader, but I personally have a hard time letting go of perfectly good things even when they aren't of use or value in my life. Whether it's books, clothes or tools, when they aren't broken or even sometimes when they are, they often have a small sentimental value that makes me want to keep them. They are the eggs.
The thing is, omlettes are delicious, so are scrambled eggs, fried or poached eggs. Perhaps you'd fancy a cake or pancake. All of these and more mean those slightly sentimental eggs need to be broken, recycled or reused.
What do you need to break and get rid of to move forward into the delicious future? In order to welcome new (delicious) things into our life, the old eggs need to be thrown out, sold or recycled.
4. Is life giving you lemons because you don't know what you really want or aren't moving towards it?
One lesson I've learnt from the early 20s is that drifting is no longer comfortable. In the past, drifting through life without an aim was pretty cruisey. You could see those that comfortably dropped out in the hippy movement and later in even in people with jobs just drifting in the job or between various jobs without goals of their own.
Sure, this is like a break or holiday at first, but now, unwanted situations are coming up for those that just drift not knowing what they want in life. It's as if this aimless existence is no longer being tolerated.
On the flip-side, there are some with long distance plans or 'dreams' that aren't really moving towards them because of money, risk-taking or other reasons. These people are also having lemons thrown at them for not taking any small action towards their dreams or true desires.
Is life giving you lemons because you don't really know what you want, or do know but aren't taking the baby steps to move towards it?
5. If you make a mistake, fix it as best you can in the moment and give the fix a new name.
My wife was making scrambled eggs one day but we don't make them often and so forgot that she was meant to scramble them before putting them in the pan. She then proceeded to 'scramble' them in the pan without the milk. The dish was a whole new dish so we named it pan-scrambled eggs. Giving it a name meant that it was no longer a mistake but rather a new creation. Like any new creation, it could have faults or need improving but it was new none-the-less.
This got me thinking about how fast the world is moving and how new things are discovered in the first place. Many of the things we enjoy today, were really accidents or 'mistakes' at the time. As one example, WD-40, the famous lubricant, was a complete mistake as a lubricant and was in fact the 40th attempt at making a rust-prevention product (WD standing in for water displacement). This got me wondering how much of creativity is really trying something and making mistakes (but, "Hey, this looks useful!").
Name your mistakes, make improvements and continue moving forward with your new creation. Or at the very least, don't beat yourself up, because it's not a mistake; it's creativity at work. Maybe your 40th attempt will create something extremely useful for a completely different purpose.
So there we have it, some old, some new, some borrowed and some blue (and yellow). Whether we like it or not, time is always moving on into the future and we are wedded to that future. Let's move on together with compassion and a flexible mindset, throwing out or upcycling things we no longer need, taking baby steps towards our dreams while naming our mistakes for the sake of creativity.