When the quarantine first began, I kept getting ads on my social media feeds for something called “Masterclass” and I was fascinated by them. These were classes taught by experts in their fields, so cooking classes by famous chefs, acting classes by famous actors, a gardening class by a great gardener, and even a class in authenticity by Ru Paul. The appeal was that you could get access to these people who were rock stars in their respective fields and learn their secrets from them, over safe, well produced videos, for a fee.
I never wound up subscribing to any of them and now I realize that part of the reason why is because I was knee deep in my own Masterclass.
I don’t know ANYONE for whom 2020 has been easy. Everyone I know has had some kind of big challenge in their life. I know people who have lost their jobs, faced health challenges, struggled with stress or depression, or just plain been stressed out by everything we’re all going through. Every single person is in the midst of their own personal struggle.
Which got me to thinking about the idea of 2020 as its own Masterclass, uniquely and specifically designed for each one of us to push us to grow in ways we may not have had to up to this point. People who depended on socializing with others as an outlet for stress are now being forced to find new outlets. People who used to go to the movies to escape are having instead to stay home and either find a new escape there or face whatever it is they were escaping from. People who ate out a lot are learning to cook. I know a lot of people who didn’t work out before who now are, having removed their daily commute as an obstacle.
And we’re all having to learn to relate to our families in different ways.
Being cooped up off and on with kids and spouses, all of us working or studying from home has changed a lot of families. Parents are having to be more involved in their children’s education. I know many parents who took the jump this year to homeschooling. Kids are having to find new ways to entertain themselves and adjust to not being able to see their friends. It’s all hard, but I have to hope that we’re learning new skills that will make us more resilient. Spouses are having to learn to spend more time together, sharing workspace and eating lunch together.
Personally, I’ve learned so much this year and been pushed to grow in so many ways.
This year, I’ve faced the question, “Which do you value more, your house or your family?” several times. I’ve had to drill holes in old growth woodwork for love. I’ve had to let go of my house being the way I might want it and instead embrace it being the way it needs to be for those I love. I’ve carried furniture out to the curb and donated clothes and cleared away clutter to make room for the life we have versus the life I might have dreamed of.
I’ve also faced the question, “Which do you value more, your job or your family?” I’ve had to skip important meetings to make appointments, log off to rush to the hospital, and take time off to take care of myself and others. The fact is…I don’t know how my career is going at this point, but I still feel good about the decisions I made to prioritize the people I love.
And I’ve faced a huge realization that I can’t do anything for others unless I take care of myself. I shifted to waking up at 5 am every morning to work out and I began prepping healthy food each week. I don’t think I could have made it through my husband’s hospital stays otherwise. If my life is like a marathon, then I need to train for it like that and then it’s so much easier to lift and carry and stay up and stay present.
I’ve had to let go of things I really loved, but just weren’t working anymore. Some friendships that were decades old, but we’d both grown in different directions. Some ways of thinking or doing things that just weren’t working anymore. I had to get real and stop trying to be someone I wasn’t even where people I admired encouraged me to do so.
In so many ways, this year has whittled me down into a leaner version of myself, distilled me into a more concentrated form and forced me to be very discerning about what I choose to carry and what I choose to prioritize.
I know I’ve been in a Masterclass, challenged in unique ways that pushed me exactly where I was weakest and as I talk to my friends, it seems like we all have, in our own ways. As we move through November and towards December, I’m finding it more useful to look at everything I’ve learned and how much I’ve grown rather than trying to look at accomplishments or happy memories like I might in any other year. It’s more like looking at the end of a class semester and feeling a sense of pride at projects completed, papers written, and stacks of books read. I can hope that next semester in this Masterclass is designed to be easier and more fun, but at the same time I realize I’m stronger and more flexible in all ways than I was a year ago. I’m more prepared for whatever comes and more ready to let go and become whatever it is that I am called to be.
As we wrap up this Masterclass, I’m preparing for the next with a clean notebook, ready for the first notes.