And just like that, it’s the end of another year.
2021 can be summarised in one line: blink, and you missed it.
For me, 2021 was a year where everything, and nothing, all happened at the same time. It’s due to this collision of world events and personal milestones, mashed with inactivity and boredom, that my memory is a huge grey fog. Even as I write this post, I’m actively trying to remember what occurred this year.
Upon reflection, it seems my sentiments from the year before continued into 2021. That sentiment being, what the hell just happened? So let’s start with that.
So. Many. Lockdowns.
Just when I thought we were past the finish line, another lockdown in Melbourne threw life into disarray, frustration, and confusion. The first one ruined Valentine’s Day. Then the whole thing just kept going.
The worst one (thus far) happened in July, coincidentally my birthday month. It started off as a week. Got extended. Then extended again. Then it kept getting extended until all of us had completely lost track of time and space altogether. Truly, the oddity of lockdowns had worn off.
I found this particular lockdown the most challenging, mainly because it threw my mental health into the gutter and I found even the simplest of tasks like getting out of bed in the morning to be extremely difficult.
I was missing deadlines, my inbox was stacking up with follow-up requests, and I basically isolated myself from most of the world because I honestly couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. It was rough. Really rough.
However, I don’t want to give too much airtime to my life in lockdown because frankly, it was quite boring. Nothing really happened — just little moments of clarity here and there that eventually became catalysts for bigger changes in my life once lockdowns began to ease.
Getting back into the dating game
For a number of years, I had been cruising through life with one hookup after another. I enjoyed the no-strings-attached way of life. I wasn’t interested in a serious relationship, or at least I thought I wasn’t, and sleeping around sounded much easier than sustaining something long-term with someone where I had to open up emotionally.
Perhaps it’s my age or the fact that I’m the only single one in my close group of friends, but I decided to get back into the dating pool just before the year ended. I’m so thankful that I did, but not for the reason you might think.
Albeit, it was a rather unconventional date. It unfolded in this exact order — sleep together, have lunch then see a movie or watch something on Netflix.
After traveling down to regional Melbourne to see him for the first time (we met online), he was a lot more attractive than his profile pictures showed. Tall. Beard. Blue eyes.
He was older than me and for a first date, we surprisingly opened up quite a bit when talking about our lives. For him, it had been a year since he slept with someone and even longer since he’s dated. For me, it had been years since I’ve given somebody an intimate look into my life and had a deeper conversation post-sex that went beyond “so, what’s your name?”, “what do you do for a living?” or “that was fun, let’s do it again sometime” (rarely).
However, it wasn’t that part that was most memorable for me. It was how I felt on that entire day. For the first time in a long time, my soul, heart, and mind were all in agreement with each other, repeating the same line over and over again.
Finally, he’s listening.
Which made me realise that deep down, I was lonely. I wanted to love. I wanted to be loved. I wanted to share my experiences — the good, bad and ugly — with someone by my side. Just like the rest of my friends, I wanted somebody to be my home and vice versa.
Being on my own had become second nature to me, and I forgot what it was like to get to know people with the potential of possibly pursuing more.
Ultimately, this guy and I decided to stay friends and see where it goes. That’s fine. As I said, I’m thankful for this experience because of what it showed me. It taught me that…
1) I’m worthy of dating and I shouldn’t be scared of opening up. We all have our baggage.
2) I’m over the one-night stands and Grindr hook-ups. I’m still open to it, it just won’t be the focus.
3) I should do more of this dating thing in 2022. As much as I disdain socialising like a typical introvert, you can’t eat the cake (relationship) without making it first (dating).
What’s next for 2022?
It’s hard to say what will come in 2022. As I sit here and write this, the evening news program is playing in the background and all I’m hearing are the escalating positive Omicron COVID-19 cases. Who knows, we could very well start the new year with a lockdown.
But when I look back on this year, 2021 was definitely a year where I set the foundations for better things ahead. It was a year where little pivots created seismic shifts and revelations.
With growing freelance work, a new job, and the launch of Skin School, it’s certainly set to be a busy one if all things go to plan (read: not another lockdown).
In 2021, my heart, mind, and body told me it wanted a home. So now I’m building them an entire kingdom.