Lessons from 2020: Jess Eddy
“Don’t take anything for granted. This year threw the world and many of us personally into a state of uncertainty. However, I believe this is an opportunity for us to make positive changes in our lives, changes that will help us and those around us.”
The biggest lesson I learned in 2020 was: don’t take anything for granted. This year threw the world and many of us personally into a state of uncertainty. 2020 brimmed with the feeling of being on edge. Modern-day circumstances replaced our usual sense of collective security with omnipresent feelings of the potentiality of things like losing our once secure job or, even worse, a loved one.
However, I believe this is an opportunity for us to make positive changes in our lives, changes that will help us and those around us.
We are less able to understand what the future holds, and this has personal and professional implications leading us in a different direction. We need to adapt so that we can best operate in new conditions. For me, this has meant putting more emphasis on taking care of myself and others, fostering my friendships and connections, and doing things to be as prepared as possible for the future.
Taking care of ourselves
This year taught me that mental fitness is more important than ever. I believe we all need a certain amount of personal balance or solid foundation to navigate our lives, and it’s proven to be even more critical this year. I’ve always gotten that balance through meditation, adequate sleep, exercise, and healthy eating (although pastries have helped this year too)! As a designer, balance has always enabled me to be better at my work, be more creative, and work well with others, so I place particular importance on it now and will continue to in 2021.
Taking care of others
It’s always been a little fascinating to me that through work, we spend all day with people and sometimes don’t know them that well or understand the challenges they’re going through. We’re more disconnected than before since we’re in the office, much less if at all. It’s an excellent time to check in with people, be it colleagues, neighbors, loved ones, and friends. I hope this year brings a shift in the way we move through the world and what we place value on, with a specific emphasis on kindness. It’s time to drop the adage, “survival of the fittest,” and adopt a more appropriate phrase for the times, “survival of the friendliest.” The only way we’ll get through hard times is together. As designers, we can lend a hand to those in our industry that need it through timely advice, introductions, or mentorship.
It’s challenging enough in good times to keep our close connections and relationships alive; it requires some effort through time spent together and shared experiences. That’s been hard this year as we’ve had to spend time apart. But I’ve learned this year that talking to friends over video sparks almost the same amount of joy as seeing them in person. I’ve reconnected with old friends, joined a Zoom book club with a good friend (and made new friends this way), and also did some remote fitness sessions over video. Contrary to popular belief, as designers, it’s a great time to get to know new people or other designers. Earlier this year, I had a video chat with Sarah Giblin, the designer, and creator of RiutBag®–for no reason other than to meet and talk, and it was great! Given that–at the time–I was spending copious amounts of time at home, it was a great feeling to meet someone new (also in another country) and learn more about their work.
This year has made it feel like we can’t control much, but as designers, there are ways that we can stay prepared for whatever professional developments might occur. Earlier this year, I decided to update my Website. I started working on it and a week later was very unexpectedly let go from my job. It’s been that kind of year for some. It’s an excellent time to update professional profiles, resumes, and your Website if you have one. Overall it’s an ideal time to be in a position to present yourself and all your up-to-date accomplishments just in case an event puts you in such a situation. You may also find that you want to leave your job, and why not prepare for that situation if it arises, ahead of time. Some people also find comfort in personal projects, some feel like they cannot focus on them right now, and that’s OK, but there are steps we can all take to be prepared in our professional lives, regardless.
2020 has been a doozy, but focusing on taking care of myself has created a stable foundation and helps me be there for others. Reconnecting with old friends and fostering my relationships with people has made me feel connected to people again. And being prepared in my professional life helped me navigate a particularly tricky work situation. Let’s make 2021 the year we focus on kindness and look at the world through the lens of others, not just ourselves.
We asked designers and friends of the UX Collective: what was your biggest lesson from 2020, that we can use as we go into 2021?