I think it’s fair to say 2020 wasn’t what anyone expected; the Summer Olympics in Tokyo were meant to happen, our friends went mad over toilet paper, weddings were cancelled and the Euro trip that was booked and paid for had to be delayed until the unknown. The start of a new decade that had us wishing on New Year’s Eve for a better year than 2019 kicked us in the guts.
What we didn’t see coming was the global pandemic that shut down businesses, travel, hospitality and even schools. With a staggering worldwide loss of 1.2million lives from COVID 19 alone it was quite literally easy, not only mandatory to close up the blinds and hide inside.
With so much of this year a loss, it’s coming out of it that I realised how much was gained in the months of horror – self-worth, self-love and self-awareness, never was it more acceptable to decline invitations, to protect your own self before others and to gain the renown ‘iso ten kilos’ and not feel a tiny bit bad for it.
As a single woman in her thirties it would be understandable to feel ripped off, a year’s worth of dates, sex and memories all lost to a virus. The truth is, I don’t feel like I lost anything and many of my girlfriends don’t either, I spoke to women and men in their twenties, thirties even fifties and we all came to the same consensus – what we gained this year has been exceptional to any other year.
When time seemed to stand still I discovered the 24 hours in the day that Beyoncé seems to have but no one else, you can actually get up early and exercise, clean your house and get some work done all before lunch. I have embraced living for the day in front of me, I learnt how to breathe again without the anxiety of so much else I had to do tomorrow.
I now know what I was capable of after my sink got blocked and I couldn’t call my 10km away dad to come around and fix it. Instead, I did the research (which yes involved a phone call to said dad in tears) went online and purchased the tools for delivery and did the work myself to get it unblocked.
At the start of 2020 I was drinking copious amount and putting it down to the YOLO lifestyle. In my journey of self-love and awareness I discovered that alcohol leads me to behave in a way I do not like. The next day regrets and hangover is not in fact, a coping mechanism I enjoy enough to have that fourth glass of wine.
That size I went up in jeans reminds me that I gave my body the love it needed without the undeserved shame of people noticing out in public. I tended to my body and the chocolates I consumed nightly were done without regret.
I stopped entertaining men who only wanted to talk for the briefest moment before trying to get me to come over, with face to face impossible I didn’t even have to come up with any excuses and took back the power of actual conversation.
This time gained me the knowledge that while social media is a double-edged sword we will never escape from, it doesn’t make up for real life touching and smiles and all those Instagram influencers, well let’s just say we all have bad days and Covid made it harder to showcase only the happy reel online.
I understand how to communicate better now, masks showed me how important it is to be vocal and use your tone when conversing with strangers even if they do cause pimples and a sweaty upper lip.
I know we all have a horror story or three we can tell our grandchildren one day about isolation. I’m not saying it’s been roses and growth for everyone. Millions of us lost a loved one to this virus and we have a long way as a universe to recover not only physically but financially, mentally and emotionally – but we made it.
It’s easy to say we lost the year, it’s even easier to admit if you lost yourself. But I hope that you, too, found yourself in other ways and the strength you have to still be standing. The little things we took for granted before, will never be again. It may have been the year we all lost so much but we gained an integral part of us that we often forget – gratitude.