When you fall down, you get back up. It might take you a minute to dust off the embarrassment, get over the pain and get back up, but it’s really your only choice. This is pretty much how I feel 2020 went. Looking back, I realise now how much of the year I spent grieving. Grieving the monumental loss; for what couldn’t be and for the time that slipped away too quickly. After a couple of much need weeks off to come to terms with the year that was, all I have to offer you is an “at least we survived” and a promise that 2021 will be better. How could it not? The bar is set so low.
It’s safe to say that in 2020 escapism was my favourite pastime. Through reading, listening, eating, shopping and watching I managed to find a sense of peace that the world was not offering. Not that I’m complaining – extending my concentration time beyond a 5 minute Instagram scroll was a pretty big feat. For that reason, I’m celebrating first this success with a list of the best things that came from last year that I think is worth bringing into the new year. So cheers! Here’s to completely ignoring last year, (IT WASN’T A THING) and moving on with our lives.
Things That Got Me Through 2020
Series / Documentaries
- The Undoing
- Made In Chelsea
- The Bold Type
- Emily In Paris
- Selling Sunset
- Love Is Blind
- Tiger King
- Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich
- The Social Dilemma
- How To Fix A Drug Scandal
- Athlete A
- Three Identical Strangers
- David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet
- Cut Channel on Youtube
Books / Articles
- Normal People by Sally Rooney (book first then series, of course)
- Camille Charriere: what falling in love feels like in your thirties
- Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton
- Beach Read by Emily Henry
- Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
- Expectation by Emma Hope
- The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
- How Do We Know We’re Doing It Right: & Other Essays on Modern Life: Pandora Sykes
- Toxic Positivity – Take your good vibes and shove it
- Crime Junkie Podcast
- Anatomy Of Murder Podcast
- The High Low Podcast
- Heartbreak, Rejection, and Emotional First Aid with Guy Winch
- She’s On The Money
- You Think You Know Someone… feat. Amy Fraser of OKREAL
- Call Her Daddy
- Darknet Diaries
- Cold Case Files
- Girls Gotta Eat
- Life Uncut
How My 2020 Went
2020, ahh where do I start? Like a good bottle of wine, we’ve popped the top, let it sit and now it’s time to appreciate it for what it was. To be honest, I dived in too early and this bottle has left me with a slight bitter taste in my mouth.
Like most before Covid I was (OBVIOUSLY) blissfully unaware of what was about to unravel. It was nice. I rode that first lockdown wave right into a free stay at my Mum’s new house that felt more like a holiday than a hideaway. Slow days, FREE FOOD and priceless views – what more could a girl who hadn’t lived full time at home since the tender age of 13 want? On return to Auckland after the all-clear, see, that’s when shit finally hit the fan. As they say, if it’s too good to be true – it probably is.
I think the second lockdown solidified that I’d finally caught up with the rest of the world – 2020 was shit and it was about to show me why in the comfort of my dimly lit Auckland villa (soon to be prison, thanks Lockdown 2.0). Just like the mind over matter can win you the race, it can just as powerfully pull you under until you can’t breathe. That’s how I felt by the end of 2020 – I was drowning. I couldn’t make sense of how everything good was so badly tainted – and why? A question I’m sure most of us are still asking, never expecting an answer.
By normal standards, we had it great. All it took was turning on the TV to know that what you were going through was ‘insignificant’ compared to the rest of the world. I mean I come from New Zealand, the literal example of how to handle a country when the world is falling apart. I should be grateful, right? How can you complain about your mental health when you knowingly have it the best? You don’t, that’s how.
And that’s what I didn’t. I didn’t complain when I lost one of the closest relationships of my life. I didn’t dare mention when I battled the constant tug-o-war of sleep and my mind running free with the idea I could have done better. Made better choices. How lonely I felt when I was left to my own devices. I just didn’t mention anything – and that’s the problem.
In this way, and I know I’m not alone (see Toxic Positivity – Take your good vibes and shove it). Like I said earlier, I’ve spent the year grieving and I think I’ve told the BIG sum of one person the full extent of this. Why? Because what’s the significance when everyone else is dealing with the shit show that is 2020?
The thing is, it all catches up with you. Pretending to be okay when you’re not just makes everything worse. I know it did for me. It felt like everyone expected me to be a happy person, so that’s what I gave them. Plastered on a smile, walked out the door and ignored everything that was waiting to take over the minute I was alone. I guess there’s a Catch-22 to acting happy when you’re not – people expect it. And when you can’t bring to the table what they’re so used to you offering, things can get tense. I’d get a “just be more positive” in return for a snippet of honestly about my situation. Like the idea that I was “not okay” was nothing to take seriously, because I was meant to be the person who was always “okay”. That just made me want to hide away more.
And so the cycle goes, until I was holding on by a thread and left counting down the days until I could get the fuck out of Auckland and hit the reset button on my mindset. Travel is still my greatest therapy. Fuck you Covid.
The problem about hitting your late twenties is that you expect to know yourself better than you do. I thought by now I would recognise my triggers. That I would be able to instantly separate myself from the situation and make the right move. The smart move – be tactical. Slip in, get out quick. What I never realised was that while we grow and evolve, so does the noise that distracts us, making it harder to really pinpoint the exact moment you cross the line (again) into uncharted waters. But such as life, moving and evolving is not linear. No A + B = C. That’s what 2020 has taught me: never assume you’ve got it covered. When you let your guard down is when you can be struck the hardest.
After spending the afternoon looking through old photos from the year I realise where it all went wrong and for me – and that’s not sharing the WHOLE story. As a pretty open person, I know that people expect that what I’m telling them is the entire story, so it makes it easy to hide all the ugly. Simply don’t say anything and no one is the wiser. And it’s normal for people to not ask you if you’re okay. You’re not supposed to assume somethings wrong if on the surface everything seems fine. But because of this, if you don’t share when you’re not okay, it only comes as a cost to yourself – and then you’ll find yourself in the cycle I was in too. It’s a pretty lonely one. Pretending, deflecting and hiding.
I guess where I’m going with this is (post 2020) I want to look back on this year as a lesson for myself. Because while people are living their lives, shit happens, everyone is trying their best even when you expect more from them. When they don’t ask you how your day is and skip to the part where they tell you theirs, it’s not because they don’t care. When they don’t share your content and share someone else’s, it’s not to disregard what you’ve created. I think we fall into easy patterns with our closest that when you need more, you really just have to ask for it rather than hope they’ll magically read between the lines.
In hindsight, I’m one of the lucky ones. Despite the mess of a headspace I got myself into, I have made an amazing group of new friends last year (who can claim that after 26?), and strengthened the old. Despite my mental health, I’ve been able to celebrate their wins; whether it be relationships, financial successes, or whatever the value, at a time when freedom wasn’t a guarantee. I’ve seen them bloom at a time I was completely riddled with doubt. And you know what? No matter where my future takes me (much happier places, thnx), I’m glad to be inspired by the same people that propel me forward daily.