My 2020 Review
Firstly, happy new year to you! Every year, I like to look back on the previous 12 months and reflect. I spend time thinking about the great moments I’ve shared with friends and family – and forgiving myself for making an arse of myself after a few too many gins (happens to us all!). But my 2020 review is rather different from previous years, for obvious reasons.
COVID had a marked impact on us all in 2020. Cancelled holidays. Postponed weddings. Strained relationships. Loved ones were lost. It was a strange year; some people thought “screw it” and went about their daily lives as normally as they could. Others hardly left their front door for the best part of a year. And let’s not even think about how it impacted Christmas across the country, with so many plans disrupted. There have certainly been times where I’ve felt pangs of guilt for enjoying a meal with friends – in line with restrictions – whilst others were experiencing difficult times. Or for cancelling appointments with small businesses trying to stay afloat during these difficult times. The moral compass has been tested, that’s for sure.
I caught up with some friends recently over Zoom. One asked “if you could rewind to any year in the past decade, which would it be and why?” which really made me think. I opted for 2013 – but another commented that 2020 had been the best year for him in a long time. He’d had the time to work on self-development, and is approaching 2021 with renewed resilience. His response had a lasting effect on me. In fact, it spurred me on to write this post and recall the positives of last year, despite the overarching negatives. Read on for my 2020 review…
I bought my first property
My 2020 review wouldn’t be anywhere near complete without mentioning my arrival on the property ladder. The end of 2019 and the start of 2020 were a tad stressful, as I waited on solicitors getting things over the line. Getting the bus to Renfrew (I was too stressed to drive) and picking up the keys was the weirdest feeling. I remember going past my flat en route to the estate agents and thinking “that’s actually mine” and almost crying! I’ll be sharing more thoughts on my first year as a homeowner fairly soon. It’s safe to say it’s been a learning curve…
Working from home became the new normal
I haven’t been in an office since March 2020 – like many other workers across the country (and the world!). My employer had had a flexible approach to working for quite a while pre-COVID – but I don’t think anyone ever expected that homeworking would be the new normal. Some of my colleagues love it; others absolutely hate it. I’m somewhere in the middle. I love that I have peace and quiet to get on with my work (there’s over 400 of us in my office!). The time usually spent commuting has improved my work-life balance (and my mood as a result). But at the same time, I’m on my own constantly. And I rarely leave the flat on weekdays at the moment. Apart from doing the food shop on my lunch break though, it’s a brilliant time saver!
I’m hoping that when it’s safe to do so, I’ll be able to go into the office a couple of days per week – I haven’t seen most of my colleagues in person for months!
I discovered Netflix – finally
Netflix has probably featured higher in most people’s 2020 review than it should. But, when you’re confined to your home for weeks at a time, why the hell not? I finally subscribed to Netflix in March 2020 – and I’m now at a stage where I’m watching something every day. That might not seem shocking to many people, but considering I didn’t watch TV before getting the flat… it’s been a slippery slope. I binged a season of Schitt’s Creek in less than 24 hours the other day. Other favourites of the year included Love Is Blind, New Girl, and watching re-runs of Sister Sister!
I did some work on myself
Time for the 2020 review to get deep! Most of us have had a lot of time to think (and not enough time to adapt) during the recurring periods of lockdown. Some had to put work into their relationships to stop them ripping their partner’s head off. Others – myself included – had to learn how to cope being alone for prolonged periods. I always thought of myself as an introvert – and 16Personalities agreed – as I quite enjoy my own company. But a pandemic and a few psychological articles later, I think I’m actually a shy extrovert. I enjoy social situations, even though I’m always the quiet one who doesn’t contribute much (unless there’s drink involved, as my poor friends will confirm!)
Before getting my flat, I confided in a friend that I was worried about spending so much time alone. They – in a similar situation themselves – recommended going outside every day, seeing friends and messaging others that I couldn’t physically meet up with. That last point really rang true a few months later, didn’t it?! I quickly discovered my limits in terms of social contact when lockdown hit. I found that my mood would nosedive if I hadn’t “seen” anyone in around a week. Considering the only actual contact I had was my Dad dropping off my food shopping for less than 10 minutes once a week, I wasn’t in the best place mentally for a while. But I explored what I was feeling, and what was causing it – and what I could do to rationalise those emotions and work through them.
There’s been a lot of times where I haven’t felt able to reach out to others. That’s totally on me; it’s nothing to do with my friends or family. In complete honesty, I figured that everyone was dealing with their own version of COVID – trying to get through things as best they could. But over the past few months I’ve been more open and honest about how I’m feeling. I have some of the best friends anyone could ask for – and we’ve become a lot closer this year. We’ve had frequent catch-up calls, checking in on each other’s situations – with daily TikToks and memes sent into the group chat. It’s the stupid things that get you through!
Having a good support network was crucial to my mental health last year. It’s obviously important in any given year, but 2020 needed an extra boost of support! I imagine that many other people are still in the same boat as we move through this pandemic, particularly those who live alone. So if you’re reading this, and you’re feeling a little low – please don’t hesitate to send me a DM. I’m always happy to chat.
I stuck with learning Japanese
I’m so impressed by this one. I never stick with anything! Since starting to learn Japanese with Duolingo when lockdown round 1 hit, I’ve missed one day. I’m grateful for my photographic memory – learning 3 scripts is quite tricky! But one of the benefits of Duolingo is the need to go back and refresh the modules every so often. I practice my Hiragana and Katakana basics at least once a week. Learning Japanese may be part of the 2020 review, but hopefully visiting Japan will be part of the 2022 one – as long as I’m proficient in the language by then. I managed to introduce my new car on Facebook in Japanese (apart from one tiny error). Which brings me onto the next point…
I bought a new car
I was torn about parting with Aurélia for a good few months. Since buying my wee Peugeot 107 in July 2017, she’d been plagued with issues. At least 3 flat tyres (one of which blew out on the motorway at 60 mph, the FIRST time driving down the M77 by myself). Having a bump on the M77 3 months after buying her (can you see a theme here?). A damp problem. God knows what else. When lockdown lifted in the summer, I started looking at cars – now that I wasn’t living with my Dad, I was going to be travelling back and forth. That was the plan at that time anyway, clearly it hasn’t worked out that way yet! I had a few models in mind, but I ended up test driving a Toyota Yaris in July.
The test drive was nothing short of hilarious – it was a solo test drive due to social distancing. I didn’t know the roads, and to top it all off, Aurélia had a 1-litre engine. The Yaris had a 1.5-litre one. It was an interesting ride – but I ended up going for a brand new pre-registered Yaris. I never thought I’d be able to afford a new car – turns out there really are some good deals out there. I named her Yuna – kudos to those who get the reference. For those who don’t, Yuna is my favourite character from Final Fantasy X – and I’m a sucker for alliteration. She’s the most gorgeous shade of blue (nebula) and has lots of tech – definitely an upgrade!
So, overall, how has 2020 been?
The themes of my 2020 review are personal growth and gratitude. I’ve worked really hard over the past few years – studying for 4 years then saving like crazy to get the flat deposit together. Sometimes, I’ll sit on the sofa at the end of the day and think “I did this”. My flat is by no means flashy, I don’t have the most fancy car, or the best job in the world. But I’m incredibly lucky to be in the position I’m in. I have a great relationship with my family, my friends are incredible and I’m healthy with a roof over my head. I can be quick to complain if something doesn’t go right – but 2020 has taught me to be grateful for what I have, and that I’ll learn from every experience I go through. I’ll never take a hug for granted ever again.
What’s been your life lesson from 2020? xx