Oh god. Does anyone really want to read about this year? Haven’t we all had enough already?
Alas. Tradition calls. Middle fingers up for 2020 one more time, whaddya say?
The Not So Good Parts
The first three months of this year hit like a snowball of trauma knocking the wind out of me. (I’m sure many can relate, and I am one of the lucky ones I think.)
In January, I accompanied my then-boyfriend to his hometown in the Netherlands as his dad’s health condition worsened. His dad soon died in the hospital with us by his bedside.
Three weeks later, Luke lied to me and broke up with me. I was left to cope with both the death and breakup on my own in the wake of Luke’s sudden and callous absence.
Emotional isolation led to physical isolation. The pandemic hit and I was stranded alone in London for two months.
Despite my somewhat romanticized photojournal of this time, it was definitely not easy. The isolation slowly drove me mad and I don’t say that lightly.
I was overcome by random, disconnected memories and thoughts bouncing around not knowing where to land. (I’ve experienced this feeling again recently and looking back, I wonder if this is literally the feeling of your brain rewiring itself?)
I was having vivid haunting dreams and would wake up not knowing where I was…I craved human touch so badly it made me cry…
The Good Parts
After my solo quarantine in London, I flew home to Atlanta to live with my parents.
I sang. A lot. I got super into this karaoke app called Smule and amassed a following of over 600 fellow karaokers. The community was so welcoming and positive; it became the only social media platform that made me feel better and not worse about myself.
I gave myself a crash course in finance and macroeconomics and became empowered to manage my own retirement savings account, including investing and working to grow my money.
In August, I started nannying part-time. This not only provided me a small income but helped me get control of my mental health. Having a routine helped me regulate my sleeping and eating habits. I got to have daily human contact and establish secure relationships with the girls and their parents. I even felt purposeful as I helped the girls navigate and learn in virtual school.
I worked really really hard on my anxiety and it paid off. I added daily meditation to my Daily Sanity Walks.
In October, I started to date someone new. That didn’t work out either. I guess he wasn’t malicious but he was avoidant all the same.
In November, I took a little solo holiday to Tulum, Mexico. I dived in cenotes and with bull sharks, and ate alllll the tacos and habanero sauce.
What I learned
Overall, this year has altered me. I feel so wholly changed, down to the cells of my body.
I feel less anxious, more disciplined, more like a parent to myself. I feel I have better boundaries when it comes to who I let into my life and into my heart. I’ve lost a lot (friends, boyfriend, job, lifestyle…) but I do genuinely feel it has made room for better things. I feel less interested in the romantic, the imaginary world in my head, and more interested in the practical. I feel more mindful about the decisions I make and the way I react (or do my best NOT to react and to instead take a beat and let feelings pass).
I learned if I want to build something that can withstand hardship, I need to go deep instead of wide. I need to stop running away to transient places and people and seek quality experiences, relationships, work, and a home.
I would be lying if I said I feel “more content” or joyful in my life than I did in 2019…I would be lying if I said I don’t have emotional storms anymore or always know how to manage them with ease. But I have learned, and want to continue to learn, to be better.
My favorite books I read this year
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
It took me 5 weeks to get through this behemoth but it was ultimately worth it. Somehow I had never read the book or seen the movie — and I’m from Atlanta! Scarlett is one hell of a character.
Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel SF Heller
I have been proselytizing attachment theory to anyone who will listen for the past year. Seriously guys if you notice you relive certain patterns in relationships with others, check out this book. It just might change your life like it did mine.
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
A tale of a woman escaping slavery with a touch of magical realism. I read this book in just a few days, it was so good.
Did I hit the goals I set last year?
Start a business IRL serving the travel community
I have a different business idea I’m executing currently
Get a camera and learn photography
FINALLY!! I have learned a little bit but still have a long way to go.
Make $1k/month from my blog
Haha ummm I grossed $1,200 from my blog in the whole year. Oh well. Better than nothing?
Go to Mexico
YES! I did this one!
Goals for next year
I’d like to be able to maintain inner peace no matter the outer chaos. And that’s it.