Lessons Learned

During the last six months, a lot of people have shared quotes reflecting on 2020. The one that stuck out most to me went like this, “I thought 2020 would be the year I got everything I wanted. Now I know 2020 is the year I appreciated everything I have.“ And that’s where I find myself writing this article. Just as I would at the closing of any year, reflecting on the past and looking to the new year. However, this year I feel like we have learned many more lessons and have greater hope for the promise of a new year.

From a personal stance, some of us were able to spend more time with people within our household. Due to my concern with the increased exposure that caregivers had to go from home to home caring for patients as well as staffing shortages, my mom moved into my home to provide my full-time care. It’s not something I had expected at my age, but the time I’ve been able to spend with her is a time that I am thankful for having. A lot of parents have found themselves trying to be teachers, and while I can’t imagine what that would be like, hopefully, some of those moments and occasional successes will make a lasting impact on their development. 

As someone comfortable going out every night to fundraisers and community events, this has forced me to slow down. It also introduced me to new technology. I never thought I would be so familiar with Zoom, WebEx, Ring Central, Microsoft Teams, or any number of other platforms to stay connected. If you would’ve told me that I was going to have a happy hour with my friends through a computer screen last year I would’ve thought you were crazy. But, that technology allowed me to reconnect with friends and family that I haven’t talked to in some time. 

This year also had a number of us prioritizing our mental health as much as our physical health, probably because it was pushed more than ever. While I can find silver-linings, I know there have been personal sacrifices made. Our essential workers were pushed to their limits, and far too many people in our community have lost their lives.

From a business perspective, many have had to completely shift their business model to ensure the safety of their customers and follow the ever-evolving restrictions. We ordered our food to go or picked it up curbside, grabbed a cocktail to go, and found out that we are far from the home chefs that we had hoped we were.

 We also learned what it was to be an “essential worker.” I’ve always been appreciative of the sacrifices made by our healthcare workers, first responders, and the police force/fire department. But 2020 has given me an entirely new perspective on my favorite restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues. While some have adapted and persevered, others have had to close their doors and lay off employees.

Although this election year may have brought about divisiveness, we have also seen incredible chances to rally, to learn from one another, and to grow. We saw a social justice movement where we’ve learned the importance of being inclusive. We’ve instituted body cameras on all sworn officers, created a new “Inclusive Sioux City” advisory committee, and added a Community Inclusion Liaison position. These positive changes have been created by reflecting on difficult situations and making a commitment to better our community.  

The year 2020 has affected us all. Although it’s easy to focus on the hardships, it’s also been a huge growth opportunity and a chance to recognize the blessings we have around us. I have witnessed companies and individuals adapting and thriving in this new environment. It has shown me just how resilient are the people of Siouxland. We have learned how innovative the workplace can be when pushed, how entrepreneurial and adaptive some of us are – even sewing masks as a side-gig, how important it is to check in on our neighbors and loved ones, and the extent that our decisions can affect the lives of those around us. I hope we don’t forget these important lessons, and that through all of this frustration and sacrifice, you too, can find some silver-linings. 

By, Alex Watters

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