It’s that annual post again and I can’t believe it has taken me so long to write this. It even made it to 2021. I am disappointed, but then aren’t we all. Also new side note from the day I’m editing this — 2021 has been quite something so far, and I don’t mean that entirely in a good way. There has been success perhaps financially, but there has also been so much loss and grief so close to me that I cannot begin write about. I’ve been quite rubbish with writing altogether so I’m not really surprised. My writing is rubbish to say the least, and let’s not even talk about consistency. Haha. I usually tie these up along with a birthday reflection but I think 2020 onwards, I’m not going to set that limit to myself because let’s face it, the older I get, the more daunting it is haha. Here are some of my previous (more structured and even positive) posts if you want to have a look.
- Ten Year Challenge: 2009–2019
- 29 Lessons from 2019
- 28 Ways to Make 2019 Great
- 27 Ways to Make 2018 Great
Also fun fact, last year, I was keen on having a really fancy birthday party on a boat (no less) and that’s probably why we ended up having a pandemic after all.
Also, since this year has been all sorts of madness, I won’t call these ‘lessons’ or ‘learnings’. Some of them are because they have stemmed from reflection. But in all honesty, they are merely questions, some reflective thoughts and constant babble I have on my mind. It’s a tad different to what I usually do, and I am very sorry for that but this is the best we’ve got friends.
(And no, these are not in any particular order)
What’s the deal with productivity though?
From Dalgona coffee, banana bread, new languages and new skills — how did the work-from-home period become a battleground for a productivity-measuring competition? I did cook too, mostly to keep myself busy, occupied and distracted but it was never as means of doing more. The only thing I wanted to do was sleep all day, but well, work among other things didn’t allow such things. There was also a lot of shame thrown at those who didn’t make the most of their lockdown/curfew and that sounds just as ridiculous as me supposedly not been grateful for having work.
Yay for work, but really?
If there is one thing that didn’t stop for me in 2020, it was work. And no, I didn’t get paid less either. The nature of the work I do is such that we run on a budget that needs to be expended. And before I say the next few lines, please note that I am most grateful and extremely in check with my privilege and everything I have so far and have had then and now during the pandemic. It is by no means to make light of those who have suffered extreme and profound loss not only purely due to the pandemic but also due to the awful mismanagement of our democratically-elected government but I still have to say the following lines. As I said, work didn’t stop. I even got more work in the midst of the pandemic. However, it was a struggle and no, I don’t mean that by purely having to wake up by 09:00 am to turn on my computer in bed, but a real struggle to concentrate, despite having everything, having adequate resources. I hope I’m not the only one who would say this but, the mental toll (and pandemic hair loss, oh boy) was a real piece of work.
Being single is well, interesting.
This was the first year I was single for a whole year, in a very long time. It’s been a bit strange, I must admit and well, daunting even — this might’ve been fuelled with lockdowns and loneliness (and age). It was indeed quite something to realise that you don’t have anyone to vent to because you can’t go to the supermarket. Petty, I know. But I know you understand (or I at least hope so). Grief for me, especially these feelings of having been inadequate in previous relationships, comes much later in life.
It’s stranger because at some point in life I had a vision for myself. At 16, it was bizarre because I wanted 10 children, but then at 22 it was relatively more realistic to have been wanting to be married by 26. Having once been an avid planning an organising enthusiast, it’s so strange to realise that you cannot plan for all that you want to happen and unsurprisingly, my 2020 planner had many pages left empty. It’s fair to say that I will not be making much use of my 2021 planner. In fact, I didn’t even buy one but will be using the one I was gifted in 2019.
But then the year taught us that things don’t sometimes work your way and that is okay? Or at least, we learn to accept that it is okay and not having a vision also been okay. But having said that, you can’t help but feel like a total loser for not having had your plans materialised you know. I don’t know if that’s some personality type BS thinking that though.
On that note, some relationships are not meant to be.
Again, what an interesting time for all relationships? I think most of my relationships — the ones I have in my family and even friends — suffered this year. I’m not necessarily proud of how I reacted, or my lack of reaction. Some of my long-distance relationships with friends and family, however, thrived and that too was even more strange. With a year gone by, it’s fair to say that I have less people in my life whom I could count on and who I would be there for. This also brings about that renewed sense of loneliness that we are all feeling doesn’t it?
We are also a very small part of the cosmos. How small though, is for you to decide.
Last year, we also realised that we don’t really understand the bigger picture of things. Simultaneously, we also felt how small and insignificant we are.
True enough, we are a very small part of the grand scheme of things. Sometimes, our contribution is so insignificant — especially for women and minority communities — that it doesn’t even show up on the pie chart. However, 2020 also showed us the impact that’s made once these “insignificant” voices come together. We are not talking revolutions here, at least not yet, but more for systematic change that has gone unnoticed for so long. Discussions we had avoided because we thought what was done was the norm and that we shouldn’t question the norm.
We really need to talk about grief.
I don’t know how it worked for you, but for me, with all the ‘extra’ time I had in my hands, I left to my thoughts — was this why everyone was overly productive to not allow these thoughts into their minds? And these thoughts forced me to deal with one too many realities, imperfections and life events I had wanted to permanently sweep under the carpet.
Grief always strikes me many moons after the events have passed. And grief struck in 2020. The grief still remains — I am the sort who finds it difficult to let go of certain memories and imprints these in my mind because my mind still isn’t weak enough to forget — and it’s taking its own course of time to align with what’s already there. I don’t know how long it will take but I suppose we can’t rush it.
During the course of 2020 I made a visit to the psychiatrist’s office too because things got too overwhelming and grief began taking over my sleep. I would lie awake at night thinking of all that I have left unaddressed and the emotions I choose not to acknowledge.
If you do find yourself in grief or unspeakable pain, please do seek help. Help is always available. You only need to ask or know where to look. The visit also taught me that asking for help or support wouldn’t make me any lesser or weaker but instead, make me better understand what is.
We haven’t come this far, to only come this far.
It’s easier to perhaps write this in the middle of January 2021 when things seem more ‘settled’ and calm (or us having gotten used to the existing systems more). But last year was really bizarre in many different ways — perhaps it was good for you and if it was, well done, you, but it wasn’t necessarily very good for me and I can’t say that I share your joy.
My only highlights so far have included my non-related nieces been born, my sister coming home and finding renewed love for cooking but besides that, I can’t say much. I’m sure if I look back on my gratitude lists there are more, and they do matter a lot, but right now, I don’t feel massively grateful, I’m sorry. I have seen continuous loss of life in the people I love and the loss of lives of close friends and family. Adding insult to the injury the pandemic has made all these circumstances worse because you physically are not allowed/not recommended from being there for those who matter the most.
While I am glad that the year is over and we are in a new year, I think what has happened has changed many of us, for the long run. Some of us have become more closed up in our own worlds, not necessarily for the better and the others now thrive in skills they didn’t have earlier. I obviously relate to the former category. While I have found it increasingly difficult to find gratitude during these times, it has been easier to practice kindness because many of us, unbeknownst to others are suffering and battling their own wars in a mind of their own.
I wish anyone reading this a good year. If 2021 so far, like for me, has completely thrown you off track, I hope you slowly find your way back, at a time and pace that works for you. Reach out to your support circles. Try to find friends and people who would stick by you and check in on you and you too would check in on. Find or buy a (legal) distraction if you are able to. Do whatever you can to help yourself because unless you do it first, no one else can do it for you.
Here’s to better times.
PS — At the end of my 2019 post I declared 2020 as the year of possibilities. Let’s not do the same mistake once again.