2020 is Tough Love

Abi Mapua
3 min readJan 3, 2021


Entering my 45th year around the glorious sun. Nov. 2020.

It has been a season of breaking. A dark and confusing walk. The events of 2020 is epic in scale and depth of its impact. “Gone Viral” took a new worrisome meaning. We will never look at delivered groceries, door handles, any surface and enclosed spaces ever the same again. Arundhati Roy brilliantly pointed out that the pandemic is a portal. A large imposing doorway and entry into another. The pandemic ushered us all into this dark unsettling portal, making us question everything and everyone.

Most will probably not agree that 2020 has given so much love. Not the kind we wanted, but the kind we needed.

Tough Love. A difficult bitter pill, but a necessary one. This Tough Love is changing us. The longer it takes, the deeper it goes. How deep is it for you now? Has it questioned your status quo, your priorities, habits, mindsets, allegiances and beliefs? Has it questioned the work that you do, the roles that you play, your identity and reason for being?

Tough Love and dark portals shake us out of our shells and facade. It forces us to look deep and soak in the glaring realities of ourselves and that around us. It is interesting how the ending of a calendar year seems to make people feel that it sets a boundary. That a change in calendar year is itself a transition into something new.

I respect this. And I also question it.

A transition into something new, a more hopeful one, is something we carry with us. Not brought about by the changing of time.

This dark portal and season of tough love ends when it has shaken us out of our past — pandemics have historically done that. We have been soaking in this for almost a year now, and yet we still seek for a return of ‘normality’. Yes, there may be good things to miss in the past normal, but overall wouldn’t a return to that normal be the worst? The ‘normality’ we yearn for comes with a selfish and catastrophic price to pay. Think about bringing with you again into the new world your biases, prejudice, obsolete ways of thinking and dead ideas, irresponsible businesses, old governance, our dying rivers, plastic choking marine life, and inequitable systems. Should we not leave those behind now?

I seriously think we are not done yet walking through this dark portal and reeling in bitter tough love. I say this because we still ask these questions, “Is it over yet?” “Can our children now go back to school or work as we know it?” “Are we on the other side yet?”

We are not yet framing the right questions that give us enough material to shape our 2021 and beyond.

Our new world begins when we start asking the right questions. We get out of this tough love when we stop dragging the carcasses of our past into the new. Otherwise, let’s brace ourselves for an extended season of discipline. We may have a vaccine now, but lo and behold, more tragedies caused by our past will continue to haunt our future. And it only takes passive people to make this happen.

Transition to the new happens when we have lost appetite for the past and can start imagining a new world and find ourselves fighting for it.

I say thank you to 2020.

It has given us lemons. So I will bring out the salt, shot-glass, and pour myself a Tequila. No surrender, but instead put on a full armor and let’s find ourselves fighting for what we really want and never ever settle for anything less. We cannot just exist and react.




Abi Mapua

Guiding organisations towards strategic futures and transformation. Regenerative design provocateur. Breathwork rookie.