I stopped writing in this blog mid-way through 2020. I felt my brain was saturated.
Days felt relentless – job, kids, family, worry, missing loved ones – and evenings were tiring, doom-scrolling Twitter. Every Covid morning kicked off a series of tasks to be completed, last one being sleep.
One downside of kids always at home is every thought can be interrupted and the only way to avoid frustration is to not have expectations.
Turns out, I did not train myself to be creative without a lot of mental space. I learned in 2020 that I can be busy and productive, but I am shit at being busy and creative. I am hoping to be better, more aligned with my goals, in 2021.
Our collective lives are in flux and these changes will continue. And even when Covid stabilizes, our fears may not. Experts are already worried about the second order effects of the pandemic and lockdown.
We have no choice but to move forward. Continue to work on self-actualization even as the base of the pyramid shakes violently.
Anyway, allow me to kick off 2021 with a self-indulgent, self-reflective post. I hope you will find something familiar in the joys and learnings of an extraordinary year lived by an ordinary person.
What I will cherish most about 2020 are the presence of my children. My adorable and challenging little humans were with me nearly every moment of 2020.
Once maternity leave was over, I was OK with not being around them always as I had my own life to live. But Covid happened and I had a whole year of having them near me most of the day.
Children start their lives being a part of our bodies and few boundaries exist between the parent and the baby in the beginning. Then with each difficult day forward, they grow a little bit apart from us.
This separation continues until one day they exist completely as an individual both physically and mentally. My kids are rapidly entering that phase where they are entirely separate from me.
Covid and quarantine gave me extra time with these little humans. In the beginning I was a witness to their first tooth and first step but in 2020 I was able to watch them discover the joys of livestreaming, inventing hybrid dinosaurs, and learning how to read.
What a gift that has been. I do not mean to sugar coat the exhaustion that comes with trying to manage work, children and household without any external support but when I look back on the year, all I feel is grateful for my time with the kids.
Joys of Social Media
I finally discovered the joys of social media in 2020. I am into technology, always have been. But social media was this annoying thing in the background for me.
Yet, when my external, physical world closed down around me due to Covid, my internal world opened up via Twitter, IG, blogging, TikTok and Clubhouse.
I made some new friends on all these platforms. They are all strangers in the real sense, but for a year now we have shared small slices of our lives with each other.
Pre-Covid I limited my friends circle to those within my physical orbit, but social media opened up possibilities of being friends with people who are very far away.
In the past I was skeptical about online friendships and over valued in-person interactions and interpersonal intimacy. But I was wrong.
Sharing anything, even Memes, over a period can lead to a kind of friendship. And these friendships can be even more satisfying than some “real-life” friendships.
As my real world shrank to the four walls of my home, it was cathartic to open myself up to everywhere else. The world is full of interesting people and ideas and it can be incredible to connect to them.
I thank 2020 for that realization.
Buying a Condo
Confinement cut down our spending dramatically. I am not berating myself for it, I work so I do not have to worry about where the money goes.
Still it was shocking to see money accumulating in the checking account for a change. With the additional funds and the bleak reality of staying at home (read no big vacation), we indulged in buying a small condo on one of my favorite streets downtown.
It was not the most financially optimized decision; we could have bought a duplex outside of the GTA, for instance. But it felt like the right decision.
I am betting on my city to return to its former glory by betting on this little condo. It is my tiny investment into a brighter future for all of Toronto.
It turns out some relationships were not built to withstand not doing stuff together.
Some people in my life were always a bit difficult, even before the pandemic, but the pressures of the Pandemic and confinement took their difficulties to new heights.
Combined with the inability to go out and DO something and not just talk, and I supposed my own “meh” emotional state, I struggled with navigating the interpersonal turbulences successfully.
On the flipside it was also delightful to discover that some bonds never weaken permanently. During hard times, they just find a new source of nourishment and keep going.
Covid brought a rearrangement of relationships, some positive and some negative. But it is all OK in the end, as the good outweighed the not so good.
After a year in confinement, I am surprised that I miss only a small (but important) subset of my pre-pandemic life.
In 2020, I grew my “alone but not lonely” muscle without the access to my usual group of colleagues and friends. I also learned how to just be OK without the constant physical presence of friends and family.
I transitioned from restaurants, pubs and dancing to video chats, walks and camping- without a material drop in happiness.
While I do not want to live like this long term, I am looking forward to discovering new joys in 2021 as we slowly exit the confined state.
Plunging into 2021
Someone on Twitter said what if 2020 is the least crazy year we have moving forward – it is an interesting thought.
But it is probably the “arrogance of man” to think what is crazy to us is what is crazy in general. Pandemics are nothing new. Humanity survived the old ones; humanity will survive this one.
Individually I think the pandemic slowed down our individual lives and allowed us to pay attention to the world at large. And the world is exhilarating. I am even more eager to go out and explore.