A very odd year, told in four parts and Schitt's Creek.
The last time I wrote in this digital journal was last year. Not because I forgot about it, but because nothing – and everything – happened at the same time. I had so much to write about, yet so little as well.
Hence the name I’ve given this article, which basically summarises my general mood for 2020. Truly, it was a year of irony.
A year which I will look back on as both eventful and uneventful.
A year where I have been at my busiest, yet most idle.
A year which I’ll look back on and simply wonder, what the hell happened?
Indeed, quite the start to a new decade. I remember wanting to start it with a bang, but not quite like this.
The Beginning: Goodbye Toxicity, Hello Freedom
In my previous yearly reflection, I wrote about a job I had accepted that didn’t meet my expectations. That’s putting it mildly.
I started 2020 by resigning. With no Plan B. Even though I am somebody who always has Plans B-Z, just in the case Plan A doesn’t work.
It’s not often that I make an exception like this in my career – it’s actually quite rare – but the role had become so toxic to my mental health and wellbeing that I had to make a decision. The choices were:
A) Stay in the role and continue downwards into this spiral of paranoia, fear, lack of sleep, and questioning my self-worth every day.
B) Resign and never look back, because I know I’m better than that, and because anything had to be better than this job.
The (obvious) answer that I chose was the latter. This was a bit of a shame because the team I worked with was smart, kind, and amazing at what they do. But as the famous saying goes – you don’t leave the job, you leave the boss. Take that how you will.
So for me, 2020 started with saying goodbye to toxicity and enjoying the freedom that came after. I embarked on the ride of “funemployment” while staying productive where I could. Some days I worked (“work” being the odd job application or communicating to my recruiters, as I was being extremely picky with my next role considering how the last one panned out). Other days I caught up with friends or spent days lazing under the sun as I reflected on what I wanted to do next.
It was the best. It was exactly what I needed.
This went on for about three happy months. Fast forward to early-mid March and I had been in discussions to manage content and communications for a not-for-profit organisation. By that point, the “fun” in “funemployment” had started to wane and I was ready to step into another challenge.
Everything was going swimmingly, and I was so excited to start this new chapter in my life.
Then COVID-19 happened.
Part 2: I Don’t Know What Is Happening
I was offered that job in the same phone call that I lost it.
Basically, as the pandemic grew, so did the amount of international borders being closed. Now the organisation’s entire purpose revolved around global conferences, and seeing as nobody could travel right now, the pandemic had practically annihilated their entire schedule and funding overnight.
In order to ensure their survival, a mass redundancy had to be done. So everyone, including myself, had been cut. The only people left there were the two managing directors.
When I finished that phone call, I just laughed. It wasn’t a humorous laugh though. I laughed because that experience amused and bemused me at the same time. Like I previously said, what the hell just happened?
But it wasn’t just my world that was being thrown into chaos. Everybody had been thrown into the unknown. There’s no need to rehash in detail as we were all witness to it.
Businesses closed. The job market totally collapsed. Masks and hand sanitiser became essentials. Panic buying brought out our primal instincts. Everyone had to work from home. Curfews were implemented.
In other words, everything had changed. The world we once knew no longer existed.
Part 3: Time Doesn’t Exist
Then, Melbourne was put into the world’s toughest lockdown. Which started, then eased for a little bit, then started again for a whole lot longer.
At first, it was somewhat nice. Working from home! Zoom hangouts! Trivia nights! Saving petrol! Online shopping!
Eventually, it became not so nice. Working from home. Zoom hangouts. Trivia nights. Saving petrol. Online shopping. All said with a disgruntled and exhausted tone, as we sat on our couch wondering when all of this madness, including the strict lockdown, would end. Hearing the 24/7 coverage of the global pandemic, fluctuating case numbers, and government announcements became a huge source of anxiety for us all.
I missed my friends. I missed eating out in restaurants. I missed traveling. I missed having options.
The lockdown was testament to the fact that you don’t realise how good something is until after it’s gone, or taken away from you.
Yet, it was during this awful time that my career actually flourished. I had moved back into freelancing, and in the midst of the lockdown, I managed to secure a contract role with a men’s grooming company I followed. This kept me afloat financially, not to mention sane, for the majority of lockdown.
Though it didn’t stop there. In June, one of my recruiters reconnected with me because her new client, a company I had loved for a very long time, needed someone to spearhead their marketing and content. I agreed to a zoom meeting with the founder, which honestly felt like a lovely coffee catch-up between two friends as we shared similar work ethics, and soon after I was offered the role permanently.
For a while, I balanced two busy roles at once. When my contract with the men’s grooming company finished, I still stayed on as a freelancer, which now makes them one of my own clients. I added another client – an interior design and lifestyle brand – to my roster in October onwards.
However, that doesn’t mean lockdown became all bells and whistles for me. Yes, I was loving the direction my career had taken. But like many others, the lockdown truly pushed my mental and emotional health to its limits.
Everyday felt like Groundhog Day. I lost track of what day it was. I became lethargic, lazy and slow. Phrases like “Pre-COVID”, “During COVID” and “Post-COVID” entered our daily vernacular.
Time just ceased to exist all together, and I couldn’t help but wonder if this was going to be my life now, forevermore.
The End: Thank You, Next
Eventually, we made it out of lockdown. Phew. Thank goodness.
Everything opened up again (except international borders), and case numbers for COVID-19 are in the single digits. The pandemic is still ebbing and flowing in Australia, but at least it’s no longer what it once was. The rest of the world is yet to follow suit though.
As I sit and write this piece on New Year’s Eve, I’m still at odds with how I feel about 2020. A lot occurred, but so did nothing. I’m ecstatic it’s over, but also thankful it happened in the first place because how much it forced me to think, reflect and grow.
I’m moving into 2021 with a new career that I love, a team that I adore, and wonderful clients who align with my values and passions.
I’m moving into 2021 with new goals and projects that received a lot of thought during the year.
I’m moving into 2021 with newfound clarity, intention and purpose.
And I know none of those would have come to fruition had 2020 not turned out the way it did.
Which is why I named this part of the piece after an Ariana Grande song, because I think it sums up my sentiments about this year.
Thank you 2020 for all of the good things and experiences. But also, good riddance.
Image credits: @schittsdiaz, Schitt’s Creek, Pinterest