2020 has been hard on all of us.
It’s also been hard on a few key phrases that we’ve all heard over and over and over again, enough that we never want to hear, see or read them again. That’s them above. Phrases that we’ve all used before 2020, words that once carried different baggage, now have regrettable 2020 tattoos where everyone can see them.
Are you sick of these phrases yet? I get it. We all are. As consumers, we have all heard them a lot this year. And, if you are a copywriter like me, you may have used them a lot this year. No need to apologize, it’s part of the job.
Speaking of, part of MY job is to write this blog post about this past year.
In thinking about the year behind and the year ahead, I found myself thinking on these phrases. Sure, in the context of 2020, these word groupings make me a skosh nauseous. But, if I apply different context and look at this year’s “cliches” through a different lens, these overused, over-wrought and possibly played-out sayings start to take on a positive life of their own.
Through the context of The Norton Agency, the small, independent, little-engine-that-could advertising agency that employs me, these phrases mean something different.
So, what are times like these at Norton?
First, we are all in this together. Sure, we haven’t seen each other in person since March, but we’ve managed to maintain, grow and add friendships, build closeness, stand up for and support each other. We’ve seen each other through the lenses of our laptops. Peeked into each other’s homes. Gotten to know the names of each other’s pets.
Now more than ever, I still talk for a good 45 seconds at a time before I realize (or am told) that I’m on mute. But also happening now is forgiveness and understanding and patience. Thoughtfulness. Better communication. I’ve seen it. People riffing and sharing stories for a few minutes at the top of a WebEx call. People being flexible with each other’s schedules so we can do things like move, or care for loved ones, walk a dog , or even feed our chickens (it’s true!). We’ve quietly brought ourselves closer to support those mourning losses and we’ve boisterously (but virtually) grouped to toast to this or that success or even just celebrate getting through a hard week. So now, more than ever, I’m proud of us. Not only proud of us for what we’ve accomplished this year, but for how we’ve grown. Because in these uncertain times, I can be certain about the people I work with: they are stoic, driven, kind, talented and trustworthy. Every weekday and sometimes on weekends, when I make the long commute from bedroom to basement, I am certain that the faces I see and the voices I hear when I fire up the laptop will not disappoint. The hard work will be met with grace and a can-do spirit. The long hours met with levity. The challenges met by champions.
So kill me if I don’t hate the new now and the new normal. I’ve seen people grow. Because as much as 2020 has sucked – and it fucking has – we have all moved forward and gotten smarter and stronger. We’ve set, reached and exceeded goals. As people and as an agency. Not to brag, but our little agency that could managed to meet or exceed its goals all year long. We are growing in a year that has been tough on advertising. We’re hiring in a year that has seen too many heart-breaking layoffs. And we’re steadily expanding our expertise and skill sets so that we’re ready for the next big unprecedented thing.
And about that. What fun is precedented, anyway? Isn’t that just a fancy way of saying been there, done that?
Next year, I don’t want precedented, that’s for damn sure. I want to march into 2021, side by side with every member of the Norton team and have the most unprecedented year we’ve ever had. I want unprecedented optimism. Unprecedented camaraderie. Unprecedented kindness. We’ll take our clients’ business problems and solve them in creative ways, helping to lead to – you guessed it – unprecedented growth for our clients.
Coming out of this pandemic, this political climate, and this year, every tomorrow will be as unprecedented as every yesterday in recent memory. But that means that every tomorrow will be an opportunity. Not a little opportunity with a polite knock, but big Opportunity that wants to kick your doors down. And after what we’ve been through, I am proud to say we are ready. The past is in the rearview. We’ve all gotten stronger because of it. Hopefully you and your teams feel that way, too.
Here’s to all our clients and partners. Here’s to all the people I can’t wait to see again in the West Loop. And here’s to next year, in spite of this year: Let’s take back unprecedented. And make 2021 the unprecedented year it deserves to be.