Reflections. My 2020 yearnote.
It’s funny how we tend to set rigid hopes for a new year, not really allowing for unexpected fluxes in our lives. This year, of course, has been the absolute exception, adapting our hopes and wishes into challenging us to go-with-the-flow and to, equally, be more disciplined.
But then again, in a normal year we do go through similar challenges, albeit on a smaller scale, that are always encouraging us to adapt our expectations.
It’s a good lesson that no matter what you plan or hope for, things can change, events can happen, no matter how big or small.
If 2020 is anything to go by, there are a few things to take note of: we can adapt mindfully to things that just happen, we can find compassion for others and, just as importantly, ourselves; and we should definitely lower expectations.
Bizarrely, I’ve come out the other end of 2020 saying ‘this year has been a good year for me’. It’s given me time and space that I always craved from the things I let bog me down. I’m not necessarily introverted but i’m also not extroverted either, so lockdown was just kinda...nice. It’s certainly been a good break from expectations.
Lockdown started for me with redundancy. It was upsetting, it was scary, but ultimately, it was ok.
I didn’t enjoy working for that company anymore anyway.
After the initial shock, I took it as a blessing in disguise. I knew i’d never leave on my own accord, unless it got desperately painful or if another glowing opportunity came along. So, on reflection it was a welcomed surprise. Don’t get me wrong, i’m still very angry about the situation and how they treated people, but i’ve decided to take the positive outlook on this as best as i can.
So what have i done with my 2020 of unemployment? Aside from the obvious things: watched netflix, completed jigsaws, played animal crossing, stayed home...
I was really quite proactive!
I started learning to code on my own to see if it was something I could do and if it could be a potential career change opportunity. I’d always meant to do it, but i think both imposter syndrome and the anxiety at taking risks stopped me.
Knowing I wanted to actively look after my mental health (what with combined redundancy and a lockdown) I pretty much dedicated myself to a routine of a working week. The prospect of learning something new and potentially brightening my future got me up in the morning. There was a feeling of being proud of myself at keeping my head held high through an experience that, perhaps 3-5 years ago, would have left me feeling hopeless. I was proud that i was seeing the positive in what was happening and taking control of the situation the best way i knew how.
A few weeks ago I applied for Maker’s Academy and I got accepted.
So for 2021 I will be very much head down preparing for my next adventure. It’s going to be intense and my brain will hurt, but i’ve bought a lot of bath bombs to help relax me through it!
I’m quietly terrified, so if you feel like sending some good energy vibes and well wishes that will help me through the learning experience, that will be nice, and will certainly help my silly imposter syndrome thoughts!
One routine that has really helped my brain and appreciate what I have, has been going for daily walks in my local park. It’s crazy, I’ve literally seen the seasons change, like a timelapse, just from going on those walks. From the first lockdown days of bare twiggy trees, right through to seeing tiny spring buds that soon became beautiful blossom and later fell like confetti. I had near misses from autumn’s conkers, and kicked my way through crunchy, and very often soggy, golden red leaves. Now, full circle, the trees are bare again.
I still love these daily walks. I want to keep doing them, even when my days become full again.
Though a lot of this year has felt a little like groundhog day, there are still plenty of things worth mentioning and remembering about my 2020:
Dan and I started living together! It has been really nice not to have to configure a strategy on how to maintain a relationship during covid life. We spent the first part of covid 2020 watching films over zoom and, when it was allowed, meeting each other at a safe distance in the park. Now we get to annoy each other every day and not just on a part time basis! Living with Dan really helped to make christmas feel normal too. We always said we’d have a year when we’d just stay in London, so i guess this was the year!
I got told I probably don’t have cancer, twice!
Okay, so one of the times was through a regular check up, but it’s always nice to get the good news that you don’t need to have more strangers prodding at your bits for at least another three years.
But the other time was through a not so usual lump in my boob. That was a scary one, especially since only 6 months prior my aunt had been diagnosed with breast cancer (thankfully, she’s fine now). What I proved to myself was that if I find something a little odd with my already very lumpy body, I will get it checked out at a moment's notice. I’d gone to the GP the day after my little discovery, then had a not so relaxing three weeks wait for a hospital appointment to have an ultrasound.
I definitely had a dark moment during those weeks where I wondered how I would say goodbye to all of you, my friends. I envisioned the easiest way would be in a pub, where i’d make a snotty blubbering announcement to you all about how much i love you and wish I had more time left to see what you all look like when you get old.
Long story short, I’m fine. I got a letter from the doctor at the hospital confirming all was ok, whilst also saying ‘Louise is a very lovely 35 year old’, so i guess that’s also my character reference sorted, should i ever need one.
Lessoned learned: always get your tits n bits checked out. It’s important.
I did 30 days of doodling things!
I really enjoyed my October of drawing something fun every day. Some of you have said how much you enjoyed seeing me do that too, so that was super a nice bonus!
I put a lot of pressure on myself for not making artwork like I used to. My art instagram tends to be a lot of doodles and craft rather than what i would call [cue pretentious artist voice] my real body of work. But heck, i’m learning that I shouldn’t put that pressure on myself and accept that the things i’m sharing with everyone are the things i enjoy. It doesn’t matter that it’s not going to end up in an exhibition or for sale, like i used to do. It’s fine to be creative just for fun! I still find value in those small things, and i shouldn’t be so hard on myself to BE an artist or whatever.
I’ve still been really lucky with my creativity this year despite not really making that “real body of work”. I designed a cute ice cream logo for one of Matt’s youtube channels; I designed some mad men inspired branding for an old colleague’s freelance company and I sold an old painting! Not to mention the nice comments people have said about my work and hobbyist adventures. So, go me!
I’m learning not to be hard on myself. Making New Years resolutions for myself seems a little redundant, when ultimately the world happens and those resolutions may not work out as planned anyway. My intentions going forward are rather to appreciate what I have, adapting any hopes with the present, and to have way fewer expectations of myself.
I’ve really channeled as much positive thinking as I feel i can in this weird time. I’m super proud of myself for that, and it hasn’t felt too trying either, it’s becoming more natural to me as the years go by.
I’ve found myself feeling really positive about what I already have on my doorstep. I feel really lucky that I have beautiful green spaces mere footsteps away, which means i can practice discipline and compassion alongside adapting to new routines. I’m genuinely glad to be doing my bit for others (helping to save lives and people's health!) simply by staying home; even though it does mean not taking unnecessary risks for a long while, like enjoying pubs with friends. I would much rather be patiently locked down, so we can finally cheers together in a relaxed and safe environment we can all really enjoy and cherish together.
Speaking of friends, you’re all good ones. From those who make jigsaws of my own face to cheer me up after being made redundant; to those i text saying ‘shit, i have a lump in my boob, it’ll be ok, right?’, to those who gift me lego space shuttle sets just because; to those who say they’re really proud of me for making positive decisions for myself ; and to those who I actually haven’t spoken to for a long time. I’m glad to have you all as my friends.
I hope to continue feeling positive about the present and not worry too much about what’s ahead of me. I want to keep lowering expectations of myself and not fall into a trap of feeling like i’m not good enough. I hope this will help with adapting to all the things that will be thrown at me, whether good or bad, and find compassion in myself and situations that can translate to positive reflections. Just like i’ve proved i can do in 2020.