DIARY | This year is coming to an end in a few hours and I am feeling a bit emotional.
At midnight last year, when we all cheered to the new year, my heart was full of hopes and dreams.
I thought 2020 would be the year I would get everything I ever wanted, that I would achieve all my goals.
Like millions on this planet, I raised my glass of bubbly to the opportunities and possibilities ahead of us, and never in a millions years I would I have imagined how 2020 would unfold and how my life would change.
We all have been through a unique and scary year in human history, and there were no right or wrong way to deal with this. This pandemic has deeply changed the way of this world, the culture, the economic system, the environment, our gestures, the way we interact with each other.
With the never ending lockdowns, we still living in total uncertainty and we still don't know if or when this madness will ever end.
Chances are Life will never be the same again and I am still trying to process it and come to terms with it.
Chances are that 2021 will not be very much different unfortunately. There isn't a magic wand that would make it all disappear at midnight. And when midnight strikes tonight, nothing will turn out to be much different.
But I certainly will. This year has changed me in so many ways
Over those past 10 months of isolation, I have had time to think about my future, and reflect on the past and the person I was, right before covid.
Before starting a new year, here I am having a last look back.
my "new mormal"
The ups and downs
All that we could do was staying at home.
Staying safe and wait for the situation to become manageable and like millions of people on this planet, I tried to make the most of it.
I did not leave the house, other than to go for a quick walk to the local shops to pick up some groceries when I could not manage to get it delivered on my doorstep.
Luckily, I am living in a lovely studio flat with a spacious balcony where I have spent most of my days, working in the sunshine, taking my daily share of fresh air.
I am so grateful for that! I don't think I would have coped with the isolation as well without my daily chill-outs on the balcony.
However, from time to time some negative and really dark thoughts and overwhelming feelings were creeping up on me and it the whole "staying at home" situation suddenly was becoming extremely boring and somewhat claustrophobic, but I have always managed to somehow snap out of that funk by finding some way to escape mentally.
Like millions of people on this planet, I have been spending hours on TikTok, laughing out loud at really silly shit, binging on Netflix, watching uplifting movies but also some really crappy ones, reading great self-help books, writing, working on my blog, sipping wine, baking bread, making my own pizzas, raiding my fridge 10 times a day, just to see if anything interesting was happening there.
You know, all sorts of things to keep myself busy...
I am not going to lie. It has been really mentally challenging at times but I always tried to keep some perspective on my situation. So many people out there were losing their jobs, others were been furloughed, and I was quite lucky in the job department.
I am still going through this pandemic without too many scratches and bruises and I am feeling blessed for that. I have been one of the lucky ones and I am trying no to forget it when things are becoming emotionally overwhelming.
Talking about work, working from home has definitely been something I have managed to easily adopt as my new normality.
I truly enjoy not having to commute or to get dressed for work, not having to face those "annoying" colleagues at the office and being in control of who I am interacting with.
This summer, I enjoyed being able to work in the sunshine while sipping cocktails and listening to music, or to take a break whenever I felt it.
And my productivity has not been affected in any ways! To the contrary. It seemed I have been working harder and accomplishing so much more than I usually used to at the office. If there is one thing I want to keep from this whole pandemic situation is having the option to keep working from home as long as I want to.
I can't really see myself going back to the daily 45 min commute to and from the office.
If I add it up, it's almost 10 hours of my time that I am getting back on a weekly basis. And I am not even mentioning the amount of money I have been able to save on transport!
what I have learned about myself and life.
2020 has been a year that none of us anticipated and a year that has given so many of us the chance to have learned more about ourselves than we may ever have done otherwise.
While I have had some really emotionally challenging days spent crying and mourning the "what ifs" and "what 2020 could have been". I also had the most empowering months of my life.
I have gained a new perspective on things and on my life. I took the time to reflect on who I really am, on my relationship with my family and what is truly important and meaningful to me.
Right from the start, I decided that the quarantine would be an opportunity. An opportunity to face my demons and deepen my relationship with myself.
I discovered that I am much stronger than I thought.
There is a reserve of resilience inside me that I only became aware of thanks to this pandemic. I thought at first I would not be able to cope with the quarantine and the loneliness, but after a while I got surprised to found out that I actually could.
I learned to appreciate the small things, to live slowly and in the moment.
Every morning, I was waking up around around 6:00am and enjoying the sunrise. Something that I never had a chance to do before. And the show was spectacular, every single morning!
I have also enjoyed the enhanced ‘peace and quiet’, listening to birds singing and feeling some gratitude for life itself. I learned to not take this world for granted and feel a deep gratitude for my health, for my family and friends, for my tiny but cosy flat. I have learned to never take the small things for granted ever again. To just live from moment to moment, and taking each day as it comes.
The usual "Someday" became "Now" because I've realised that the uncertainty of the future and that tomorrows are never guaranteed.
I realised what I need more of and what I need less of.
Being on my own has also helped me to realise what I want more of—peace of mind, love, meaningful relationships, better working environments.
I also begun to notice that some of my relationships were actually one-sided, draining, and overly dramatic but that I was keeping them in my life for all sorts of reasons, mainly because I was fearing being alone.
I became to notice what mindsets, habits, and relationships were adding the most joy to my life, and which ones were draining the most life out of me.
What you resist, persist.
I have learned acceptance for what is and how to reframe negative situations.
When you keep thinking about how great life was before the lockdown, and about how awful it is now, then you feel frustrated and unhappy. One of the best pieces of advice I have read somewhere is: “If you can’t change a situation, stop resisting it. Just accept it.”
So I told myself that if this is how my life looks like for the time being, that I will not fight the situation, but embrace and accept it. I reframed the situation in a more positive way.
This pandemic is not going to last forever (well... I hope), and it may be a long time before anything like this happens again. So I refused to think of the lockdown as imprisonment but instead to see it as a spiritual retreat!
Some people spend a lot of money to go on meditation and silence retreats or yoga holidays to feel rejuvenated. So I tried to reframe my situation and see it as an enforced retreat from our "normal" hectic and stressful life
I found myself and transformed my loneliness into aloneness.
I realised that the feelings of loneliness I was experiencing were coming from the fact that I was not seeing myself as complete without someone. I was experiencing some sort of emotional lack — a lack of support, understanding, companionship, laughter. Loneliness appeared in my life because I was continuously focussing on the lacks in my life. And over time, it created the belief that I will be spending the rest of my life alone and lonely.
Loneliness is just fear. Fear of failing your life. Fear of dying alone in the darkness.
No matter how much I didn't like being lonely, it was happening. So, rather than resist it, I decided to try to get familiar with it. I embraced the uncomfortable feelings, rather than push them away. I decided to not let loneliness have control over me and transformed it into aloneness instead.
Aloneness as a state in which you are able to enjoy your very own presence. A state that empowers you to see clearly what your strengths, weaknesses and desires are. Some people call it “finding yourself.”
I have learned to finally love and trust myself and to become my forever best friend.
The quarantine has given me the space to be with myself, day and night, 7 days a week for the past 7 months.
I learned to love myself and take action on things that are truly empowering for me.
I became my own best friend.
I realised that my own company can be as good — if not better at times — as that of another person. I discovered that waking up alone, eating alone, watch a movie or walk on my own was absolutely possible. Even more than that — it had the potential to be simply delightful.
Also, feeling lonely or alone doesn’t last forever. So I may as well learn to enjoy it while it lasts. Just like with any other temporary experience in life.
how this year is changing me...
In some ways, 2020 feels like a ghost year. Time seems to have stopped since February and it can't seem to resume back, but I believe that this whole experience has some sort of therapeutic purpose for many of us.
I know that once I'll get to the other side, I will return to some sort of normal life feeling more human than before and more hungry for life than ever before.
I have also become more centered in the present, and less focused on the future. I have become more aware of the beauty of my surroundings.
I have healed my broken heart and forgave those who hurt me badly in the past
I have learned to not look for happiness outside of me, by buying and doing things.
I learned to just be.
Tonight we are all entering 2021 with so much uncertainty. We have no clue what the future looks like and if we can start planning our lives again. We don't know when these never-ending lockdowns will end.
This new year will feel strange as we are still not able to plan future activities and life events and it makes it hard to be confident about where we will be heading into the future.
what I am looking forward to
As soon as they feel safe, I want to travel and go see my parents and hug them tight. I have missed them so much. They are not getting any younger and being apart from them for so long has really been hard.
I can't wait to hug them and tell them face to face how much I love them and how much they mean to me.
I'll most definitely cry the happiest tears after looking forward to it for so long.
I'm also most definitely looking forward to travelling again when the time's right. I definitely want to get out of the house and explore the world again.
Dressing up to go out on a date, eating out and socialising with friends, going to cinema or a gig, visit an art gallery. Meeting and mingling with people in a bar.
All those simple things that we were taking for granted a year ago are now the things we are longing for.
Eventhough we don't know for sure how 2021 would look like and can't really make plans, let's not lose hope that someday we will get back to the things we love.
Every day is a new beginning, a new chance to start fresh, a new opportunity to make it better, a new chance to get things right for us.
Today, before rushing into making new resolutions or setting up goals, let's just pause for a second. Let's be present in the moment, and acknowledge our achievements, should they be small or big. Let's be proud of ourselves, let's be grateful to be alive and healthy.
We are here and still standing and that's the most beautiful thing to reflect on today.
Sending you all lots of love and my best wishes for the days ahead of us
Have all a beautiful day and a wonderful New Year!
The Girl Next Door