I’ve always found something quite liberating about the clock striking midnight on New Year’s Eve. Despite the fact that it is just one minute, the transition between New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day brings a sense of excitement and the notion that anything is possible.
A year ago The Bloke and I rang in the new year with the fireworks display from the London Eye on the TV, singing Auld Lang Syne with the cat and making promises that 2020 would be our year. I had plans. I had spent weeks carefully making lists of all of the things that we were going to do: the places we would go, the things we would see, the experiences that we would have.
I don’t think even Nostradamus could have predicted what 2020 would become.
The year didn’t begin well, particularly when watching the footage of the horrendous Australian fires. In January I was concerned when initial reports of a deadly virus started to appear in the news, but really started to worry when it arrived over here and rapidly increasing numbers of cases and deaths were being reported on a daily basis. It really hit home in March when The Bloke and I were stood in the bar area of the Alexandra Theatre on Press Night waiting to see a performance of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, and the manager made the announcement that the performance was cancelled and they were closing that evening. Everything shut down the next day across the country in what would become the first of many confusing lockdowns and restrictions. It seems laughable now that at the time we thought it was going to be just for a few weeks.
Nine months later, the coronavirus has claimed the lives of nearly 1.8 million people worldwide and changed every aspect of how we live here in the UK. 2020 has been a year of enormous loss and struggle: the struggle for survival, injustice and equality, our livelihoods and, at times, personal struggles with ourselves and our mental health and wellbeing.
I have been one of the extremely lucky ones and what I discovered was that (while it was a complete dumpster fire), it was also a year of clarity, realisations and learning curves. 2020 was filled with things that served as reminders of what is (and consequently, what isn’t) important.
Things I Learned in 2020
Seeing family and friends in person is vital. I haven’t seen my mum in person since last March, and haven’t seen my sister in over a year.
We are beyond lucky to have the NHS and everyone who works within it (my mother is one of them), and it needs protecting at all costs. Technically, this isn’t something I would say I have learned this year, but 2020 highlighted just how important it is.
Captain Tom, Celeste Barber and Marcus Rashford proved that one person can make an enormous difference.
Our key workers across the country proved that millions of people can make an enormous difference.
Food banks are a vital part of how many of us now live.
Forced isolation makes you appreciate the most simple of things, like hugs. Hugs are awesome. I’m lucky in that I have someone that I can hug whenever I want, while others haven’t had a hug all year. I miss being able to go round to a friend’s house for lunch, or meet up for cocktails in town.
We don’t need much to live a meaningful existence and material possessions mean very little. What you think you really want is unlikely to be what you actually need.
Taking time daily for gratitude and to focus on our mental health and wellbeing is vital. I’m thankful that my family and friends are safe and well, that I have enough to be able to pay the bills and put food in the cupboards, and that I live in a safe environment with no fear or worry.
The country is filled with a whole plethora of incredible independent businesses and they all need our support.
Some people now have a greater level of respect for teachers, while others have made it abundantly clear that schools are a babysitting service. I was a teacher for ten years and so was already aware of this divide, but it became an even more prominent conversation in 2020.
Many jobs can actually be done quite easily from home. Sweatpants are an essential part of working remotely, and it is useful to keep a bra nearby just in case of a last minute Zoom meeting.
When things get tough, many people turn to creative outlets – writing, drawing, painting, sewing, knitting, music – something the government needs to remember when cutting the arts budget in schools.
Speaking of the the UK government, someone needs to give them a slide clicker.
The UK population is full of incredible people who are prepared to step up when the government wont.
The American voting system is super complicated. Thankfully, my American blog friend, Austin (The Return of the Modern Philosopher) explained it in a way that made sense and put up with my incessant messages for a week while I was glued to the TV awaiting the election results.
2020 has been the perfect hybrid of old and new ways of life. Technology was at the forefront of our daily activities in the form of online teaching, exercise classes and streaming services, in complete contrast with creating homemade bread, handmade clothing and growing our own food.
The ‘leaving the house’ checklist basics now includes a mask and gloves.
I am capable of giving both myself and The Bloke haircuts without making it look like we have had a fight with scissors / clippers.
In times of crisis, toilet roll and flour becomes more valuable than gold.
A national lockdown shows exactly who is used to being told what to do and who isn’t.
I am capable of more than I ever thought possible, and have built some solid foundations for future projects.
A New Start for 2021?
The celebrations felt a little different this year. As it turned midnight and the neighbourhood lit up with enormous fireworks displays, my usual elation and detailed plans have been replaced with just a single goal: to get through it one day at a time in the best way I can, something that I see as more practical than negative.
One day at a time. Be organised, be motivated, work hard, remind myself of what is important, be thankful for everything that I have, say what I mean and mean what I say and, most importantly, be kind.
It’s the only thing we can do.
Here’s to a happy, safe and healthy 2021. I hope it’s a good one for all of you…
What about you guys? Have you got any goals for 2021?
You can also find me on You can also find me on Twitter @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to follow my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks