My friend has grown a beautiful backyard garden, and I am mad.
I’m not angry with my friend. (That would make me a bad friend, right?) I’m mad at her garden. Her lush, verdant garden that has the nerve to vibrantly grow while the rest of the world suffers and struggles. How dare its flowers blossom so fragrant, its fruit grow so ripe? Doesn’t her garden know it’s 2020?
How could anything this year possibly grow?
All Instagram envy aside, I’ll let you in on a little secret every creative professional knows, but we often forget: our best work is sometimes created under pressure. Not the type of pressure that comes from a surprise rush deadline (goodbye, sleep), but the steady, sustained pressure only existence and experience can provide.
We aren’t fruit, trees, or even potatoes, (though most of us have spent more time on our couches this year than we want to admit). We are humans, collectively sharing a year of deep emotions and ever emerging challenges. Watching the world go by from behind our quarantine screens, it is easy to feel forgotten. (Spoilers! You’re not lost, you are where you need to be.)
If you think you haven’t bloomed in 2020, here are 5 signs you have grown and not even realized it:
1. You embraced remote working.
Whether by choice or default, most of us are now working remotely and online. While some freelancers have always worked this way, for the rest of the professional world, this has been a huge adjustment. Give yourself credit if you have faced remote working challenges with patience, determination, and an open mind. This is a sign you are adaptable, which is on LinkedIn’s list of Top 5 Soft Skills.
2. You applied to a job, even if you didn’t match all of the requirements.
Imposter syndrome, anyone? Muhammad Ali once said, “To be a great champion, you must believe you are the best. If you’re not, pretend you are.” When it comes to job hunting, this is absolutely true. Job requirements are often guidelines, not dealbreakers, and you could have skills that an employer didn’t know they wanted until they came across your submission. When you fight perfectionism and doubt to submit an application, your courage grows three sizes each day. (Bonus growth points if you have completed your We Are Rosie profile so you are visible to employers.)
3. You hired someone from a different background.
If you didn’t know yet, diversity breeds creativity. When we make an effort to hire candidates that bring new skills, culture, and perspectives, we grow the value of our agencies. When we hire for #cultureadd, we create more productive teams and increase our innovation. Embracing diversity is truly transformative and enhances our productivity. If everyone on your team looks similar, went to the same school, is from the same area, etc. it’s time to plant more than carrots. Maybe some radishes, or broccoli would be nice?
4. You learned a new skill.
Maybe you earned a new tech certification. Maybe you just learned to stop burning your eggs. (Don’t judge.) Either way, we’re never too old to stop learning. In fact it can rewire our brains and lead to cognitive growth. So sign up for that new class you’ve been postponing! Online institutions like General Assembly, or Coursera, are popular ways to distance learn, but don’t overlook your local community organizations that hold virtual meetings and classes.
5. You created something just for yourself.
Self-care is even more important when we are experiencing stress. Take the time you need to nurture your personal projects. Creativity can provide a sense of purpose during times of crisis. Personal projects are never wasted time, these activities are a chance to recharge and inspire yourself. Don’t just take my word for it, participants of this study showed reduced levels of cortisol after creating art.
I may not ever have a green thumb and raise delicious vegetables like my friend. But I know I will enter 2021 differently than I entered 2020. (And not just because I’m now an adult that washes their groceries.) As we enter the holiday season, know that no matter what you have been through, you have evolved. You are stronger. Braver. Smarter. Grown. You deserve to be proud of the person you are in this moment, and there will be great things to come.