Happy New Year!
It's been a while! Time flies when you're... living through a global pandemic? Not very catchy. Will have to workshop that line.
It's 2021 now, and even though that doesn't really make any difference, it's a nice chance to draw a personal line in the sand. Approaching the 31st, I saw a lot of posts on Instagram from people suggesting we should creep into 2021. So it wouldn't notice us. So it wouldn't see us feeling an inch more hopeful.
But let's be honest here: Years aren't sentient. Time is an illusion, and it means whatever we make it mean.
I like to acknowledge the end of the year. To take stock, and look around. So even after this impossible 12 months, I tried to keep that up.
I spent the final moments of 2020 with the same friends I celebrated with last year. This time, they were faces on my screen. Safe in their own homes.
But in the only way we could be, we were still together.
Seconds from midnight, champagne in our hands, we talked about what we hated the most in 2020. What we wished we could leave in the previous year forever. (Wishful thinking, of course, given we are now on the brink of another lockdown. But sometimes all we have is wishful thinking.)
We said we'd had enough of zoom calls, and virtual quiz nights, and masks, and sourdough, and cancelled plans, and fights upon fights upon fights over how we interpret the rules versus how our loved ones interpret them.
Then it came along. The new year. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
It wasn't long after the zoom goodbyes and final swigs of champagne that I headed up to bed. I lay there for a while, my partner snoring away. I stared at the ceiling.
I was disappointed.
And not, in that moment, by 2020. Or 2021.
But by myself.
I'd spent the final seconds of my year being negative. Criticising what I hated. Yes, we all know there's plenty to hate. But through the tragedies, anxieties and struggles, something happened this year. And it happened to a LOT of us.
Essentially: We realised the lengths and depths of our own resilience.
So I got out a pen and some paper, and I made a list. A list of things I was thankful for in 2020. Something I could carry with me through the ups and downs of 2021.
Things I was thankful for in 2020
The incredible efforts of essential workers, from the supermarket to the NHS
My family and friends - all their love, support and care, even from far away
My ever-cheerful dog, oblivious to COVID-19
Good food and great drinks (mostly of the alcoholic variety)
The roof over my head
And more, and more, and more. It's easy to be grateful once you take a second to open that tap.
This year, more than ever before, I've been in awe of other people. Of their strength of character. Of the love they display. Of the amazing shared human ability to find even the slimmest of silver linings. At times, I've struggled to feel positive. I'm not perfect, but I am trying.
2020, you were just a year. And even though I know that, I have to say: You were a real bitch. But thanks for everything you taught me, all the same.
2021, you're just a year, too. But here it is: I hope you're better for us all. However long it takes.
I can't be afraid to hope. Even in the darkest of times.
Final note, for anyone reading this: Stay safe. Stay home. And wear your bloody mask.