SWEENEY: Learning to slow down

I have always been someone who measures my happiness through tangible experiences and accomplished goals.

When the clock struck midnight on Jan. 1, all I could think about was all the things I was going to get done.

I think we all had similar thoughts. 2020 was going to be the year, the start of a new decade and the time to accomplish all the things 2019 didn’t allow for.

And then March rolled around.

Life as we knew it flipped upside down.

Businesses closed, schools closed and no one felt safe enough to leave their homes.

How was I going to accomplish all of these goals, all these experiences that I relied on so heavily in order to find some kind of meaning in life?

For some reason, I had led myself to believe that this was my year, the year where everything was going to fall into place for me.

I spent a lot of time in 2019 trying to figure out my place in the world.

During 2019, I graduated from college, watched my childhood home be sold and had to spend a lot of time thinking about where I wanted to live, and what I wanted to do in my career as well as my personal life.

There was a lot of uncertainty for me in 2019, so 2020 was going to be different, right?


2020 is ending soon, and to be honest, it’s been a really lame year. It's been worse than 2019 by a long shot.

I didn’t do all of the things that I set out to do. In fact, I didn’t really do much of anything.

I watched a lot of TV, learned how to make bread, struggled to learn how to work from home and that’s really it.

In fact, most days I did not have the motivation to get up and do much of anything.

And weirdly enough, I think that is exactly what I needed.

I have always been someone who craves structure and a sense of control in my life, so breaking away from that, while not what I would have wanted, was what I needed.

Instead of focusing on goals, or focusing on the next best thing, I really had the chance to evaluate where I was at in life.

We spend so much time just going through the motions. Our lives are busy, and we often don’t give ourselves a break.

This was a break in a sense, and I don’t think I would have taken one if it wasn’t forced.

While spending most years trying to get what I want, 2020 reminded me of what I already have.

I was able to spend more time than ever on Zoom with friends who I don’t get to see very often.

I was able to get out the house and enjoy the outdoors more than I typically would.

And most importantly, I got to spend some time with my own thoughts. And while that’s not always the most fun, it’s something I think everyone can benefit from.

All in all, I think my biggest take away from the year is that it’s OK to not have structure, and it’s OK to not meet all of your crazy high expectations.

Sometimes you just need to be, and that’s fine.

It’s almost 2021, and I think when I ring in the new year, I’m not going to have a resolution.

I think I’m just going to see how the year plays out, because if there is one thing I learned from 2020, it’s that life doesn't always turn out the way you plan it.

Catherine Sweeney is a reporter for the Herald Review. She can be reached at catherine.sweeney@pioneergroup.com.