In conversation with 2020

Two days ago, on my daily walk I suddenly bumped into someone. Peering through my glasses, I tried to figure out who it was. I could see a familiar spiked face and I recoiled in horror. It was 2020 staring back at me.

“Shoo, shoo, go away. The new year has just begun. I have nothing more to do with you now.”

2020 looked at me with wide eyes. “It is true that I am no longer around. But hey, you cannot just shrug me away. I was the most defining year for not just you but the whole universe.”

“Hmm…I would agree on that one,” I said shrugging my shoulders. “So what?”

“What do you mean by “so what?” Your life has changed, and I want to know how. Come on, you need to give me some credit for that!”

I scoff at this self-praise plea…” You gave me nothing but isolation. It is almost 10 months I have not been to my office. I have not met my team. What is there to give credit for?”

“Look, you had a relaxed stay at home. I can understand that work from home was tough at first and all the joy that came with it evaporated within a few months but hell, you have saved on petrol, your skin is glowing sans all that pollution, your cat is delighted to have your attention 24×7,…admit it.”

It struck me then that I had wired my brain to think of all the negative things that happened in 2020. I needed to jot down the positives as well. I turned back to the nebulous figure talking to me and accepted that yes there were some good outcomes too.

“Tell me all about it. I want to hear all.”

“You have already mentioned the hiccups in the beginning and the benefits of a clear skin and my own contribution on reducing the carbon footprint. So, I am not going to dwell on those. What stays with me are the following benefits:

  • My own learning about the digital landscape expanded – becoming an expert on zoom, google meet and Teams
  • I failed. And failed. And then failed again – there were so many instances that had me flummoxed on how to navigate situations and discussions where there was absolutely no scope to meet face-to-face. However, all those failures provided me with new opportunities and different solutions.
  • Creativity flourished – I remember the beginning of Covid-19 and the integral role communications played then – the biggest issue in front of us was how to keep employees engaged and provide them with regular, factual information. Internal communications became central to everything we did. We experimented with different formats, styles, platforms and engagement tools and kept innovating as the situation evolved. It was a high!
  • Self-care assumed big proportions. There was time to meditate/exercise. Breaks of siestas became possible to keep myself rejuvenated. Cooking became the all-time stress buster!

At this moment, it hit me that my list of new learnings was soon going to outdo the losses encountered in 2020. I stopped, preparing myself to flee.

“Don’t you dare run away now. Go on. Tell me about the new skill you picked up.”

I guess there was no escaping this direct order. “Becoming a certified coach,” I fumbled…as though I did not wish to announce this lest it made 2020 a winner…”Yeah, when I joined that course, I did not realise what I was signing up for…I got drawn into self-awareness. Phrases like ‘be aware of your own operating system and your values’, ‘keep the ego aside’, ‘listening on a continuum’, became my new mantra. This journey into self-awareness has been truly the most exhilarating one. It is also the one with lifelong outcomes and impacts. I guess, I need to acknowledge this and appreciate your being there 2020. Thank you.”

On those very words, 2020 vanished as suddenly as it had come before me. I guess it wanted, just like all of us do, an acknowledgment and appreciation of the good things that it brought with it. A reminder of how we have to think hard to recall goodness but find it so easy to surround ourselves with the negativity that flows. 

Time for us in 2021 to stay tuned with all the good things coming our way. Cheers!

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarita Bahl
Country Group Head CSR at Bayer - South Asia
Sarita Bahl leads the Corporate Social Responsibility function for Bayer South Asia and is also the Director – Bayer Prayas Association. Prior to this, she successfully oversaw the communications and public affairs function for Bayer South Asia. Over her three decades of professional experience, Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, public sector, trade associations, MNCs and the Not-for-profit sector. An alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Science and the Swedish Institute of Management Program, Sarita specializes in stakeholder engagement, sustainability and communications. She is passionate about animals (is mother to a female cat), books and movies.

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