I had such big plans for 2020. I had lists and schedules and calendars, plans and goals. And I started out strong, with lots of work every day on the tasks I’d set out for myself. Even as I had an eye on international news, and was reading increasingly worrying things through January and February, I kept my nose to the grindstone.
Well, we all know what happened in March, and when all your plans revolve around live events, and in-person visits, there’s no pivot. So my work ground to a halt, and my prospects of paid work dried up too, as festivals, events, and conferences cancelled.
I read the news and fidgeted, frustrated that there was nothing useful I could do except stay home. A lifetime of keeping myself too busy to think abruptly resolved itself into all the time in the world to think. It was painful at first, but eventually, I fell into a new rhythm, a sense of stillness and focus. I lay down those big ambitions for the moment, and immersed myself in the internal conversations I’d been avoiding for decades. It was revelatory.
I’ve spoken a bit about this online, but briefly: over a period of months of journaling and doing thought exercises, I had some big realizations, which lead to me getting a counsellor, and then led to me learning I have C-PTSD. For me, this has been unsettling but exciting; I’m used to thinking of myself as defective in a lot of ways, but it turns out a lot of that stuff (insomnia, digestive issues, depersonalization, rumination, irritability, maladaptive daydreaming, periods of being stuck in an emotion, CONSTANT VIGILANCE, the list just goes on) are actually symptoms. And those symptoms have always curtailed my ambitions, and limited my progress; it’s been like trying to run a race while dragging a thousand pound weight behind me.
Learning what they are, and that they’re not inevitable or character defects, and that there are strategies to deal with them and sometimes to get rid of them entirely, has felt incredible. Starting the work to chip away at that weight feels good, though it seems to involve a lot of crying, which I’m trying to be cool with. I can observe my brain changing. It’s exhausting, but exciting. The trauma is in the past; the future feels compelling.
My accomplishments this year have been small in scope and personal in nature; instead of trying to change the world I worked on changing myself. And like, not every day; plenty of days I just watched tv or baked or doomscrolled Twitter or stared for some time into the middle distance.
So here’s what I’ve done in 2020 that I’m proud of:
- Walked an average of 5 km a day
- Wrote in my journal most days
- Began the incremental daily work of understanding my mental health issues better and healing
- Began the incremental daily work of understanding my physical health (very closely tied to my mental health), and healing, which included beginning to actually work out three days a week, finding workouts that I can do from home, and that I don’t hate, and that I can do even when my stupid knee is messed up
- Drinking water – getting into the habit of staying properly hydrated has always been a struggle and I’m still working on it, but it makes such a difference in how I feel
- Started thinking about my goals and writing them down, something I’ve never been very good at doing because of the C-PTSD
- Really thoroughly re-organized my storage spaces and wardrobe. Marie Kondo would be proud; there is a spreadsheet (not an exaggeration)
- Spent some real quality time with some of the people that I love (often socially distant, but still), though I am missing a lot of you
- Really savoured my neighbourhood and my home, especially the back porch, which became my refuge all Summer
I’m sure 2021 isn’t going to be a normal year, and so I don’t really know how to set goals for it, but here’s what I want:
- To find work that I delight in
- To feel a calm in the core of my being, and to really feel like I’m centred in my body a lot more than I usually do
- To be very clear about who I love, and to make sure I see them (when it’s safe), and to tell them I love them
- To keep working on my mental and physical health in ways that make me happier and more comfortable
- To emerge from this year of stillness floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee; ready to run for office, smash the patriarchy, and be a boss-ass bitch (you know, hot girl shit)
I have no advice to offer, but my wise friend John Muir famously said this to anyone encountering a setback: Fuck it, Forget it, and Forge Ahead. Forge ahead is anything that keeps you upright; this is a hustle-porn free zone.
you are marvelous.
the gods wait to delight
If you want to read more of my year-end thoughts, you can find the whole collection here. I mean, I don’t particularly know why you’d want to, but there they are if you want’em.