SideBar,  Work Life Balance

Side Bar: What a year

I don’t even know where to start. This year was just beyond and I know I’m not sharing any huge revelation here because we’ve all been through it, but I do want to take a moment to just acknowledge what occurred.

At the beginning of 2020, I was six months into my new job in local govt and to put it plainly—I was ex-haust-ed! The pace of the work was a huge jolt to my system. And while I felt like I finally was getting it, I was still barely home and barely sleeping. Additionally, there were constant threats that ICE could descend at a moment’s notice—remember when they threatened to send Border Patrol to the city?! It was stressful. And then the world kind of stopped?

I don’t want to fail to read the room here. This year was really bad for almost everyone. From financial losses, to sacrificing careers, to literally losing loved ones, it was painful in ways many of us can’t imagine. If we’re privileged enough to say, “hmm you know this year wasn’t so bad,” then it’s really important we acknowledge that AND work on ways to make sure those that did experience the brunt of this year are supported and cared for as much as possible.

But was this a year wasted? Not exactly—I mean I’m definitely not adding a year to my age when my next birthday rolls around because 2020 doesn’t count, but in spite of all the horrible things happening, I was able to make some gains that I’m really proud of:

First, I made healthier choices. Being cooped up in my apartment all day, for days on end, I knew I had to keep a schedule and not just stay on the couch. Working from home allowed me to create a routine; actually sleep at a reasonable hour; and cook healthier. While I’m a delivery queen, I pushed myself to learn how to make food from scratch. I learned how to make tortillas, conchas, tomato soup, pizza dough, and black beans all from scratch and I don’t really fear trying new recipes anymore.

Second, I learned how to advocate better. Being an attorney and working on client cases requires a distinct set of skills compared to policy work. While there is plenty from direct representation that transfers over to policy work, the reality is that advocating for large groups of people and for policy changes/creation requires additional skills. Things like managing relationships, overseeing projects, and incorporating yourself into other people’s work is not an inherent part of lawyering and it takes time to strengthen those skills. With a pandemic, however, there was no time. Everything had to be done quickly and correctly—mastering all of that to deliver quality work was quite difficult but it resulted in really great outcomes. There were plenty of stumbles, but I feel much more confident in my abilities to deliver results than I did at the beginning of the year.

Finally, this year underscored the responsibility I feel towards this community. Not only in sharing practical advice about the legal profession, but in empowering us to act in all areas that impact us. I’ve always felt it important to take a stand on important issues and I plan to continue to advocate for things like racial justice and voter empowerment within this community—I hope you join me and know that I take the responsibility of sharing accurate information with readers seriously. I’m super grateful for this community that we’ve built together!

What are some lessons or gains you’ve made in this upside down year?