(Disclaimer: I have a flair for the dramatics and feel everything very deeply. This is my space to say what I feel, I mean no harm towards anyone.)
Pardon the Australian in me, but what a fucking year!
The feeling at the end of the year that it had passed by quickly was a huge relief for 2020 in particular. Though most days passed slowly, this year flew by if that makes any sense. From kinda-graduating, getting employed, moving city (and apartments twice), all in the midst of… what’s that thing again? Oh yeah, the pandemic! I think you too can understand when I say, what a fucking year.
As always, I started this year hugely optimistic for some events that were seemingly inevitable and all the other things I dreamt would come true. With graduation at the top of my list, I was finally reaching the light at the end of the tunnel that was freedom from university. On top of that I was required to complete an internship, which was more than likely to lead to a job. Like I wish for every year, I was finally going to focus on this very blog, just to mention a few goals. Fear? Huh.. hadn’t heard of it! This was bound to be the best year ever, I felt like I was set up to succeed and I believed I had to. 2020 was going to be easy and maybe I was naive to believe that, but I’ve been working into manifesting and always had a positive mindset about my wildest of dreams.
And from face value, I did accomplish my biggest goals this year. My internship did lead to a job, I found a new home in a big city (with 26 days to spare before the end of the year), and almost graduated (only 7 credits to go). Clearly not everything went to plan and nothing’s ever as easy as it seems. All-in-all, 2020 was an uphill battle. There were more times than I care to admit where I really questioned what the point is of all this and if I was really cut out to handle it—it being life. While 2020 was mostly shit, I’ve had much needed discussions, changes and time to starting recovering from this hell of a year.
To get the ball rolling I wanted to reminisce on 2020 in order to hopefully be able to leave it behind. I’ve had some big life moments that really hone in the fact that you can learn from you experiences, good and bad. So while it’s easier to complain about all the crappy things that happened in 2020, the adult in me wants to complain and reflect. Here’s some significant things that fucked up (also read: happened in) my 2020 and how I hope to grow from them so at least something good can come out of suffering.
Moving on after (almost) graduating, but it's 2020
Finishing my studies came with a hefty tag of things to leave behind: 15 years of schooling over, a group of friends, a comfort zone, routines, memorised bus scheduled, the local grocery store and my home. My 3 years were up and I had to move on. While I’ve moved a lot in my life, one thing I took for granted was making friends. When you study in school, you’re essentially forced to make friends with certain group of people. Moving to a new city (not to mention in the middle of a pandemic) does not really offer that same opportunity. Even though I don’t typically mind spending time in my own company, that was all I was doing. I could barely get a break from myself and a lot of other factors were tearing me down from the inside out. I really felt truly lonely.
Not one to shy away from my feelings, I confronted them. One thing I’m learning more and more as I continue to start over in new cities is that distance is inconvenient, but shared experiences and teachings are king. Take from that what you will. After watching so many friendships fade despite the promises in the peak of your connection, when I have to take off on my next adventure I always need them more than they need me. Between ages 4-12, I wasn’t able to grasp the reality of leaving friends behind every few years. Since moving to Sweden, it’s been painful realising that while I can maintain a few close relationships wherever I go, it’s not to the level I need to survive.
I learnt the hard way not to set expectations of people and I’ve become generally untrusting of people because I feel more accustom to being let down (due to my expectations). After getting hit with that realisation for the second time in three years, I’ve become more at peace. Long distance doesn’t work when you’re the only one doing the distance. People have a harder time understanding unless they’ve walked in your shoes. And that’s perfectly normally! Tough to battle the first few times, but as with anything, you grow to get past it. I don’t hold anyone accountable to make sure that I am sane and I’m understanding when to let go or save my energy. More so after barely seeing anyone in person, the online connection had to be enough and I feel I’ve better adapted to make that work. Basically, I wanted Sex and the City and I got Home Alone.
That’s not to say all is doomed. Eventually the restrictions will lift and I’ll figure out how adults make friends and I’ll make new friends. Am I enthusiastically optimistic that those will be my friends for life? No because I should probably be seeing a therapist. Will I let it stop me from the potential to find a temporary connection? No because even a temporary friend is better than no friends at all.
Working 9-5, what a way to make a living!
Though strange, I’m someone who dreamed of working in an office. I wanted a consistent 9-5 life in a beautiful space, with creative colleagues, the sound of heels clinking in halls and lots of clothes everywhere. For a wonderful 2 weeks in March, I had this. The glitz and glam of office life ruined by a pandemic as most things were. Here developed a huge score and two issues. Other than the extremely late notice, as in usually days before the end of my contract, I was employed: a huge score.
Issue one was my unfamiliarity with working a 9-5. Not really breaking news, but working in creative fields in hard. The feedback is seemingly never-ending, you can never appeal to everyone and even as the ‘expert’ in the field, the client’s opinion is often the only one that matters. Constantly having your work dissected, waiting for others to prioritise your work as you do, rushing to meet deadlines and not feeling appreciated were things I had experienced, but not to the extent that comes with a 9-5. After 9 months, I’m still getting used to the routine and figuring out how not to be exhausted after working or at least to persevere enough to have productive time after 5. Though I’m still adjusting to productive evenings, at least I feel more accustomed to the other difficulties and can allow it to act like water off a duck’s back (as Jinkx would say!) I’m significantly less frustrated and upset these days, though initially I felt paralysed with no self worth and totally hopeless. I questioned if this was all I had to look forward to, if life was only this. If you can’t read between the lines, I’ll just say I had very dark and dangerous escapism fantasies.
Issue two was bought about by a new acquaintance. Once again, corona strikes! Working from home was fine in theory. We had programs to communicate and share work, company provided laptops so work was kept in one place, and Google Suite acted as our life source (especially evident on that one day it was down for an hour). It was the practice that I struggled with. Though it worked, I quite literally rolled out of bed and straight into my desk chair to begin each day. I had to praise myself whenever I had a shower or changed out of my pyjamas, for a short period even brushing my teeth once a day was a success (maybe that’s too gross to admit). Living in the same four walls with super limited human connection and questioning the purpose of life created a breeding ground for an unhealthy mind. The type of sadness I experienced this year I would liken to ‘situational’ depression. It can be reckless to self diagnose and I understand the severity of psychological disorders, though I could affiliate my experience with even the extreme symptoms. Not to worry, I’ve created a healthier situation. One step I did take towards healing is changing my environment. Now I am forced to even walk down stairs and without roommates I can be less cautious about my movements in my own space. I wake up wanting to get dressed or shower, something I know better than to take for granted these days.
Do people really become BFF's with their roommates?
All throughout university, I had a random assortment of roommates and sometimes no roommates at all. From the girl who hid the pots and pans in her room, to the Spanish social butterfly to the poor exchange student who arrived late but then rushed home (once again, thanks Corona), to that whole semester I lived alone, I thought I scored the bingo of roommates. Cut to moving to a big city with big opportunity for insanity. 3 years of roommates at university couldn’t compare to 6 months in Gothenburg (oh yeah, I moved to Gothenburg). There are plenty of stories to tell about my time there and many a crazy experience, but the feeling is what I needed to escape.
The house I shared was arranged in such a way that the kitchen was directly outside my bedroom and the walls were thin. In a house of 4 girls, hearing 3 voices chat over dinners or late night drinks or pancakes just outside your room was soul crushing. You know how in school if you didn’t invite someone to the party, you’d specifically avoid talking about it around them or not hand out the invites in front of their face? Imagine that, except it’s in your own home and happens every few weeks. As if I’m not already insecure enough or on the borderline of severe psychological disorders, I can admit that to sit idle while the house partied had me in tears a few times. Apparently, being purposefully excluded and having the party flaunted in your face doesn’t feel nice at any age. Shocking!
How I remedied this was vowing to move out before Christmas in one of the busiest cities, in the middle of a pandemic where people are on lists as soon as they legally can apply. People told me I was crazy, that it was an impossible dream and I’d have to wait. My Dad, of all people, told me that I had a knack for creating my own luck (more like my Mum to say hence the surprise) and so I did just that. Sunday I put out an ad, Monday I came in contact with my soon-to-be new landlord, Thursday I toured the apartment, and the next Sunday I signed the contract exactly a month before Christmas. I guess my Dad was right! Living alone has been such a blessing mainly because I care enough about me to invite me to things, but also because I can sing at the top of my lungs and I don’t have to share a kitchen.
While I can appreciate now that 2020 wasn’t all bad, that’s potentially speaking very generously. I’ll likely look back at this year as the most lonely and depressing year of my life (at least thus far, I am only 21). Though that’s maybe a bit out of my control, I strive to put a lot of effort into learning from my mistakes and adversities. Let’s just say, there was a lot to learn from this year.
So here’s to 20-fucking-20 and all the time we had to spend with ourselves, our lowest lows and the things we took for granted. Whatever happens next year, at least this one is over!
See you when I see you!