Being nearly a week now into the new year, I suppose it is time to reflect upon the old, though I imagine some might rather not. Where was I last January, a time that seems more than a year ago? Well, I recall I spent New Year’s Eve working on my main goal for 2020 – creating an account with an online agency to begin freelance proofreading work. As January kicked off, I quickly realized all I didn’t know about online work: I’d never done any sort of video call, I don’t have my phone at my side – or with the volume at a noticeable level – all the time to catch alerts, I had never read a blog in my life (which much of the work was related to), and didn’t know the ins and outs of working within a website. Nor did I have a lick of experience, remotely relevant (or recent) work history to show, or any sort of portfolio with which to sell myself to prospective bosses. So what to do? I decided to play around with designing a free, private website where I could type a couple articles for practice. I found a site outlining ways to start a blog, picked the most popular option, and went from there. There was a steep learning curve that got me close to throwing it all in, but I finally caught on – and in turn learned about associate programs, image design, and whatever else I blundered into. I discovered how much I enjoyed what I was doing and building, and decided to go for it, invest in a website subscription, and launched Extraschooling.
February found me obsessed in a delighted sort of way, passionate about getting this unexpected new baby of mine growing. I toiled and typed and tweaked almost nightly, enthralled. Then by March I began to come back to earth, realizing that this was a hobby of mine that was but a tiny drop in the vast ocean of the internet, and that I needed to find some work that paid – as I also realized, a bit frantically, that maybe everyone else would be doing this too, as lockdowns loomed from this crazy disease suddenly sweeping the globe. However, unlike my total lack of success after a few weeks in January in applying for jobs, when I tried this time – portfolio in hand – I got replies on the first two I sent applications in on. Granted, one was for $10, and I discovered I had no idea how to do the job in the end, but it was still a victory. I landed the other job, which promised to be recurring, feeling rather giddy and hopeful. This first batch of work – which lasted around a week and a half – led me to realize something was going on with my eyes, though I didn’t yet know what.
Then April came. Lockdown! We had already been home for nearly 2 weeks by then, and I was on my way to the cuckoo house. Yet, it began to dissolve a few days into officially being sequestered. I posted on my personal page on April 6th a long journal-esque analysis of the state of affairs: “I am struggling here at the end of this week. … I am both ready to resume normal life and simultaneously wanting this experience to continue and help cause some sort of mental shift or growth or prove something to myself somehow. As with most exercises, I guess it is a no-pain-no-gain deal.” We had needed a change of scenery that day after many at home and had taken a meandering drive to a local gas station for a treat. There I had marveled at how friendly and relaxed the patrons were, as well as regretting the fact we would someday soon “…likely return to our busy, snarky selves.” From that day on, I had turned a corner. I think now I will always hold that month as one of my dearest, the unicorn month (I wrote in depth about this at the time in When Real Life Resumes). On this recent New Year’s Eve I went back through my posts for the year and shared the one that stuck out to me most – from April, of course. It came a day after I had taken a photo of my son and his dog when I found them both with sticks in their mouths, and the post is a picture of a bug with the caption, ‘I think we’ve officially gone feral. (My son) just walked out, brushing his teeth & saying “This bug was in my hair!” with a rather happy excitement. Then, “I’ll just set it here” – here being the dining table – and walked off.’ (For the record, I entirely forgot about the bug after taking its picture and later laughed at myself for how unfazed I was by the whole event and seriously wondered how fit we were going to be for polite society at a later date. I hope the bug found its way back to where ever it came from.) As I explained in my share of it last Thursday, “…it kind of sums up how I want to remember it all: the little laughs that tided us through; the sense I got in April of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity we all had to just pause, be, and savor; the glee of turning a little wild in the midst of such seriousness; the simplicity I wish life always held.”
As spring headed for summer I got the news about my eyes, watched as covid and civil unrest amped up, and and tried to find my footing and path in it all… and the year began to unravel as it drug on. As I thought back today, there are two main ways I can sum up 2020. On a global level, it was a year of adaptation. We all needed to be able to think on our toes, shift and dance as necessary, and figure out how to go with the flow without sinking. I felt like a lot of the Big Issues I did well on. I would say we have come through the pandemic thus far as well as can be hoped, with an enormous gratitude for where we live. We learned to adjust and make the most of what we were served. Likewise I felt I helped my little guy navigate his crash course on race relations pretty well, and, while horrified at the realities causing the turmoil, was thankful he could get a true sense and even take a small part in it in order to leave a permanent stamp on his soul and help mold his future self. On a personal level, it was a very reactionary year for me. It seems life happened, and I either dealt with it well or didn’t. I may have handled the global and national crises with some aptitude, but for me personally, I have never known such a stressful year or been less able to retain an inner poise. As December ticked by I finally came to understand the change, as always, must be me. I can only change my end of a given problem, and I choose to change how I react. How fast I react, how emotionally I react, how thoughtfully I react.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so ready to turn the page and get a new year started. I think my hopes and expectations for this year are considerably lower than when I was a starry-eyed wanna-be proofreader with an infant website to play with, but maybe that’s okay. My goals for this year would be namely to control what I can control, find peace with what I can’t, love and learn and grow with my son, and keep my April promises to myself. I am viewing this coming year as a challenge, whereas I think I found last year to be one. I plan on meeting this one head-on, eyes open, and ready. It owes me nothing; I owe myself – and most importantly, my son – everything.