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Lessons from 2020, for 2021

4 February 2021

With a new year comes new resolutions – but just how quick are we to dismiss the year that has been?

WORDS BY Courtney Joe

Artwork: Ruby Jones

We awoke to the year 2020 under amber-hued skies – a signal of distress from across the Tasman Sea. We watched the world literally shut down as the Coronavirus pandemic began to spread, until we too, had to stay home and band together to stop this virus (in record time, might we add). We took part in the uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement and knew that we had some serious work to do in our backyard, and we voted for what is now the most diverse parliament in New Zealand’s history.

But with great challenge, comes great learning. And in turn, this learning becomes success in some way, shape or form. As journalist Isabelle Truman so aptly states in our relaunch issue: “The year 2020 doesn’t have to be a year lost if we take the incredible valuable lessons we’ve learned into the new year and beyond… after all we’ve been through, we do deserve to celebrate, even if it’s just for surviving”.

So in true celebration of positivity and fresh beginnings, we asked some of our wonderful contributors to share with us the lessons they learned in 2020, for a better 2021.

“2020 felt like a year of uncertainty and chaos and as a result I become a lot better at only focusing on what I can control here and now, rather than letting the bigger picture overwhelm me. This past year has also put a lot into perspective in terms of what actually matters in life. For me this is spending time with people who leave me feeling good and warm and loved. It’s showing those people every day how much they mean to me. It’s learning how to say no more often. It’s forgiving myself easily and loving myself endlessly.”

Ruby Jones, ARTIST, @rubyalicerose

“A key lesson I learnt in 2020 was the importance of community. In 2020, we all by default experienced moments of isolation and in those moments it made me realise how above all else, people are the most important thing. Being part of a community brings fulfilment, joy and belonging. We are lucky in New Zealand (so far) that we are able to physically build our communities again, but I will never forget the moment of realising its true importance.” 

Rachel Mataira, PHOTOGRAPHER, @rachelmataira

“The notable lesson(s) I’ve learned in 2020 is to be kinder to myself and be proud of my accomplishments – even the small ones! I am a very driven and ambitious woman who tends to focus on the bigger picture/goal and overlooks appreciating my smaller everyday accomplishments – all of which are part of the larger journey anyway! I often say to myself #breathe and #patyourselfontheback, you are making moves kid.”

Kiri-Rose Kendall, MODEL & ACTRESS, @kiriiirose

“In 2020 I’ve learnt the importance of both respect and guardianship. This year has shown that it’s more important than ever that we respect each other in all our differences, and that we act as guardians of Papatūānuku, our earth. Our survival depends on it.”

Jacinta FitzGerald, PROGRAMME DIRECTOR, MINDFUL FASHION NZ, @jacintafitzgerald

“This year started with a few curveballs … an unexpected move back to New Zealand from London and losing family members to cancer. I’ve learnt to value time with family and friends, breathe, jump in the ocean if you can, give yourself space to grieve, and find inspiration. And whatever it is you want to do, do it now. You never know what is around the corner.”

Jenna Smith, PHOTOGRAPHER, @_jenna.alexandra

“I learned that I’m really good with a paint brush, wheelbarrow, mouse sander, and a drill. That a cold beer tastes exceptionally good after a day spent entertaining four-year- old twin boys during lockdown. That we’re really lucky to live in New Zealand. And most of all, that I really have a newfound appreciation for going to work.”

Tori Ambler, STYLIST, @toriamblerstylist

“To never take anything for granted, to savour every meal shared with friends, every hug, every moment we get to go watch a movie with strangers in a cinema … the little, everyday moments that when we are living them seem so mundane but actually are the most important.”

Jess Molina, CONTENT CREATOR, @jessmolina

“A huge wake-up call for me this year was learning just how incredibly complacent I’d been in regards to changing structures and systems that are oppressive or damaging towards other people. The global pandemic has really brought to the forefront the massive issues the world has been facing for a long time — centuries of systemic racism and capitalistic structures that leave millions without adequate care during a crisis. It’s also shown just how incredibly divided we’ve become as a society. I’ve learnt just how important it is to listen, learn, to add my voice, and to continue to actively and consistently engage in things that will help others less fortunate than myself.”

Isabelle Truman, JOURNALIST, @isabelletruman

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