Right, it’s been 3 whole months and 14 days since my last post.Just looking back now at my diary [to actually enable me access back into my own blog,] I flicked across the ‘goals’ page of the diary from the start of this year. Almost laughing out loud (or slight aggressive puff of air out of both nostrils, with very slight and brief curling up of the corners of the lips – I believe this is the official definition of lol) I looked at the bullet points I’d blissfully and unawarely formulated at the end of 2019. It all seems very, very weird to look back.
I must be totally honest though. This year has not been a complete disaster for me. Despite the completely disastrous state of the world and this country’s shocking inability to successfully contain the spread of the virus, care for its people adequately and do, well…anything really, I do count myself as a lucky one. While it has felt a difficult time to be an inhabitant of this planet in many ways, it would be really wrong for me to compose a totally woe-me post. I’ve escaped 2020 relatively unscathed, compared to some folk. Perhaps just a few kilos extra on my hips? We all have our coping mechanisms – mine just happen to be white chocolate coated Oreos and every type of cheese-on-a-cracker known to man. Yes, a few stress and mask-invoked spots on my face, but it could be much more devastating.
So, for my own self really, and for anyone who perhaps is looking for something a little more uplifting to counter-balance the dreadfully depressing posts elsewhere on the Internet, I’m going to briefly summarise why, for me personally, 2020 hasn’t been a total sh*t show. Emphasis on the total, because it’s had it’s challenges aye…
The first lockdown forced me to find time for my blog/ Instagram. For years I’d been unhappy with the creative directions I’d taken, I now finally had the time to cultivate and curate a feed and content that I felt was a true reflection of myself (and an aesthetic that somewhat silenced the obsessive compulsive tendencies I had about the grid, the images, the colour and the compositions, in my head.) As a result, my Instagram took off in a way that it never had done previously. I’m not solely talking about follower count – that’s just not what it’s about for me – being on 1,600 and something followers I’m aware I won’t be breaking the Internet at any near point in the future. I was however, building a community of people who were like-minded to myself, who cared about what I had to say, and who somehow believed in and wanted to follow this totally ‘un-conventional-looking’ stranger and her love of cruelty-free-ness on the internet. That’s pretty cool to me.
For the first time in my life, and my 7-odd unsuccessful years of blogging later, I received my first paid job ‘creating content.’ As much as I hate that pretentious-feeling way of saying blogging, it pretty much sums it up. A new app brand called OOOOO reached out to offer me the opportunity to talk about cruelty-free beauty products on their platform, with the opportunity for commission on each product. One of my submission videos was chosen as their social media advert (see Facebook somewhere?) and this was just one of the sweetest moments for me. It felt full-circle, in the biggest-possible way in my small world. I was realising that perhaps I wasn’t totally useless. *If you download their app through my referral link, you’ll receive a shiny £10 voucher to spend on any product on their app, and in-turn, I receive a shiny little virtual £1 coin (which hopefully will eventually turn into many little £1 coins in my bank account.) Link is here : ooooo.com/the.useless.blogger Personal plug over.*
I was also being contacted by various brands to receive pr products; this had never happened before. I was getting the chance to discover cruelty-free brands of all kinds, as well as several ad campaigns with The Body Shop throughout the year. I’m aware this is all relatively small-scale in the grand scheme of running a successful blogging empire, especially as this work is usually unpaid in pounds (but paid in product,) but either way, it is a personal little woo moment for me every time a DM or email comes through with a such-like offer.
As a white person in 2020, I learnt of a fraction of the sobering reality of what it means, and has meant to be a black person, or person of colour in this world. The tragic murder of George Floyd was the wake-up call we all needed. A light was shone on the injustices and hardships experienced daily by black communities and individuals. I was heartbroken. I felt guilty. I found it totally consuming. After having read the quote “It is a privilege to be learning about racism in 2020, rather than experiencing it…” I knew things had to change. It wasn’t about me at all. I knew I had to be part of the change. I began educating myself on black history and the black experience – although there are infinite sources, and I feel our work will seldom be ‘done’ I began my personal journey of doing better for our black friends. Kind of in the same way the Australian bush fires at the start of the year sparked discussion and outrage about the state of the climate, George Floyd’s untimely death hopefully wasn’t completely in vain. Sometimes something completely terrible and life-changing has to happen, before we realise that previous systems and circumstances were not serving us justly. 2020 was packed full of alarming, but much-needed wake-up calls – you could argue.
This year saw the continuation of my battle-recovery relationship with my mental health. While the long periods of loneliness and nothing-ness in lockdowns were undoubtably detrimental to my mental health, I was really forced to sit down and analyse my progress. I quietly celebrated being 3 years self-harm-free. I increased my dose of medication slightly (with doctor supervision) without fear or judgement. I continued my commitment to my recovery in my therapy sessions, fortnightly or weekly, when needed. More than anything, I finally learnt to recognise negative/ dangerous thinking/ behaviour patterns, and took action to prevent spiralling of any kind. The same way I like to create a safe space on the internet for those who follow me, I’ve tried to create the same judgement-free space for myself in real life. This is a daily commitment which continues.
This was the year I finally got Netflix. This was also the year I learnt a great deal of self-compassion. I was forced to drop all expectations of self and, like most people, develop coping mechanisms and strategies to simply get through each day. This was the year we spent all the time with our pets and beloved plants. I didn’t know it was possible to love a tiny creature as much as I do Pepper, but it turns out that a tiny ball of apple-domed chihuahua head fluff can bring endless comfort and joy in globally taxing times. I also learnt that a maximum number of house plants does not exist. 2020 was the year I learnt not just about body positivity, but also body neutrality. Look it up – it’ll change your life. The notion that it’s okay to be at peace with your body as it changes and evolves in any way, is truly liberating. I wasn’t great with financial management this year or at keeping in contact with people but we can’t have it all, eh. If I don’t improve on that in 2021, I’ll perhaps draw to the conclusion that I’ll forever be useless at replying to the messages of people who care, and that my savings account will forever act more as a borrow-if-I-need-it type of thing.
Sending my love and warm wishes for the new year to you all. Here’s to a slightly less terrible one! Let’s not forget that in 2020 America voted an old predatory bigot out and voted a woman of colour in. We turned up in protest for our black, trans and immigrant friends, and will continue to do so. We stood up for our planet, even though our work is not done until Greta is president. We realised that in the midst of absolute despair, there are communities of good, caring people out there. Failing that, there are always dogs. There is always some form of hope.
Take care of yourselves, each other and our home next year,