It goes without saying, this year has been a real real mess of a year. There’s no need for a lengthy paragraph highlighting the semantics of the cursed year. However, I have always chosen to use the final weeks of December to reflect on the last year, and 2020 certainly deserves that reflection.

Let me cast my mind back to exactly 365 days ago. It’s Christmas eve 2019 at 08:30am. I’ve just finished a workout at the gym in the Trent Student’s Union, and I’m sat at a table in the cafe, eating my overnight oats from a Tupperware box. It’s cold and dark outside, but the sunlight is just starting to rise. Campus is empty and quiet, except for the odd international student or fellow christmas-eve-gym-goers.

I lug my bag onto my shoulder and walk outside, heading towards the Victoria Centre. Where I’ll take the back entrance and stomp up the stairs to the House of Fraser staff sign in room. I take my time, stall as much as possible and clock in at 08:59:59. Gotta give Mike Ashley what he wants.

There’s something quite depressing about working a 9am-1pm shift on Christmas eve, but something 10x more depressing working a 9am-1pm shift on Christmas eve, in a dead end retail job, unable to leave the cash register for 3 hours because you have a queue of Karens wanting to buy the entire Hugo Boss sale rail for their absent husbands. In a city 67 miles away from your family home; your family home which you will return to at 9pm tonight – after Northern rail cuts your connecting train journey due to staff shortages. After a 4 hour bus journey sat by a broken window. Something quite depressing about knowing there’s not really any presents under the Christmas tree, because your family are struggling a lot financially and you’ve not been home for months on end because you’ve been so wrapped up in your own declining mental health.

December 2019 was a breaking point for me. It was a case of deciding whether I wanted to continue in the same self destructive habits I’d developed over the last couple months, or deciding that I wanted to do something about my situation. Thankfully, I chose the latter.

I bought myself a planner for New years, and I wrote down all my goals for the year. I also remember writing those goals in this blog post. It’s safe to say that I absolutely smashed every single one of those goals – and this wasn’t despite the pandemic – I genuinely believe that I achieved my goals because of the pandemic.

I know that the sickly-positive perspectives of 2020 can often be quite insensitive and privileged. I know and understand that this year has been horrific for key workers, elderly people and immunocompromised people. I can’t really write about my first hand experience without acknowledging that, but there are thousands of great articles online which explain the grim details of the pandemic.

I am fortunate enough that March 2020 onwards improved my lifestyle. Of course, at the time I was bored out of my mind and absolutely dying to get back to normality. But upon reflection, the pandemic has helped me to completely overhaul my lifestyle and really focus on where I am putting my energy.

I used to work relentless hours, exhaust myself and run off constant anxiety and adrenaline. I had no money and no direction, because I rewarded myself with nights out that lasted 12 hours, cost me £100s and left me a shell of a human the following days. I wanted to be better but I genuinely had no idea how to propel myself in a positive direction.

Lockdown helped me to focus on what was important to me. It helped me to embrace the hobbies and interests that enriched my life, without the fear of being a loser or a bit of a loner. It’s also taught me not to attach too much expectation upon an outcome. Even though we are almost 10 months into the pandemic, there is still so much uncertainty regarding the following months, and there’s no point setting up an image in my mind of how I expect the year to go – it really is about taking things one step at a time.

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