What 2020 has taught me, plenty of life lessons I can assure you! in this post, I’m reflecting on 2020 a year that connected us all through a virus, racial revolution, wildfires, climate change, financial, economic and health issues.
An unyielding year, 2020 is the year when the world said enough is enough. A year in which we began to wake up to truly see the world we have created for ourselves and our loved ones.
It goes without saying, we all had high hopes for 2020, a year to mark the start of a new decade. And, it wasn’t the year any of us were banking on but, it was a year that enabled us to expand our minds and grow in new ways. For this I am thankful, and in this post, I will be sharing my own thoughts on the headlines of 2020 and what 2020 has taught me.
In 2020, I was given six months off work to do whatever I wanted. Except for travel of course, and for a Travel Blogger that was something that was particularly hard to swallow. This blog post is a mix of the 2020 headlines and a journal mashup of my own thoughts and feelings.
2020 gave us many life lessons that’s for sure!
Life Lessons 2020 – What 2020 has Taught Me
I don’t need to travel to be happy
I’ve always loved to travel for as long as I can remember. Climbing the steps to the aeroplane, being greeted by the air hostesses as you find your seat, fasten your seatbelt and await the thrill of takeoff.
The sheer excitement as the plane mounts the runway at full speed and soars through the air. The amazement of being so high above all the houses, cars and gliding through the clouds. The wonder of all the opportunities that travel brings, exploring new places, trying new food and experiencing different cultures. Not only that, my travel blog has given me the means to work with tourist boards, hotels, attend press trips and visit destinations I’d only dreamed of.
The thrill of travel had me gripped and I was here for it! I visited eight countries in one year, whilst still working my full-time job and I still wanted more! Travel had become a form of escapism, I attributed more and more of my happiness on finding the means to travel somewhere new. I had no savings, the window frames were beginning to rot, I still hadn’t replaced the bathroom, but still, every penny I had was being spent on my travels.
When the pandemic hit, I had two trips cancelled, one last minute trip to Budapest and one long-awaited Easter trip to Slovenia. As I pinned so much of my happiness (I know Adam did too) on travel I wasn’t sure how things would pan out this year and if it would send me on a downward spiral.
What I found fulfilled me in ways that I never thought it would, and it was finding happiness at home. Home became a haven away from the chaos unfolding elsewhere and I began to look at ways to make it more cosy. I was grateful for my South-facing garden and the endless time I had to enjoy it with my bunnies Buzz and Woody – who most certainly had the best summer of their lives. Check out my Instagram lockdown highlight!
Another thing 2020 taught me is that bunnies make great company!
I found a new appreciation for being at home and felt more aligned because of it. I cherished those nights with Adam, Buzz and Woody, even though I may not have ventured far that day.
Luckily, at the start of the year, Adam and I enjoyed a very relaxing winter sun break in The Canary Islands, which was a bit of a burn-out break as I’d been ill from January to October (I’m convinced I had coronavirus!) I also had a lovely weekend visiting my best friend and her partner in Barcelona in February following the birth of her baby Luna (whom I adore).
2020 enabled me to explore more places in my own backyard and local surroundings. I visited a new area of Cornwall, I was delighted to collaborate with the Yorkshire Coast on a trip to Scarborough and, I also got to finally visit Edinburgh (somewhere that’s been on my UK bucket list for a long time!) I’ll be sharing more on these trips on the blog in the New Year when they will, hopefully, be more useful for you reading! 🙂
2020 made me evaluate my own travels and whilst I still want to travel the world, I will be more mindful of how frequent I travel going forward. I will value my trips and experiences more as I won’t be travelling excessively. I will also continue to embrace the slow travel ethos I had begun in 2019.
Like many, this year has given me the chance to explore more places on my own doorstep and I have a renewed appreciation for exploring more places in the UK.
Check out my UK travel posts below:
We all need to be kinder to the environment
If 2020 taught us anything, it is the importance of nature and the world around us. 2020 saw the world, quite literally, on fire. The raging fires in Australia lasted for months, killing and endangering Australia’s indigenous animals with fires also raging in places such as California too.
Environmental effects such as floods and earthquakes have also become more common, including in places which may not have been impacted before (even Leighton Buzzard where I grew up!)
As I write this, I have learned that plans are being made to begin oil drilling in the Arctic refuge on 6th January, one of the most biodiverse regions and an area which will become uninhabitable for polar bears and other arctic wildlife. American citizens are able to sign the Protect The Arctic petition – if this applies to you please sign. As a British Citizen, I have signed the Change.Org Petition and hopefully, this will too make a difference.
Whilst I certainly can’t complain about the long hot summer we enjoyed in the UK this year, climate change is real and if there was any good to come from 2020 when the world stood still it was the fact that the natural world was given a breather if only a temporary one.
It’s also given me time to reflect on the changes I can make within my own life to better the environment such as minimising my travels. As someone who used to spend a fortune on clothes, I’ve ditched fast fashion and managed to finally save some money, also aided by the fact I couldn’t travel.
In the last quarter of this year, as a result of watching David Attenborough’s film, A Life on Our Planet on Netflix and Extinction documentary, Adam and I have limited our meat consumption. Eating veggie meals has given me the chance to cook more, given us both the chance to try new dishes, as well as do our bit to help the environment.
I’ve also begun drinking soya-based milk, with coconut being my favourite. However, I’m struggling to find a dairy alternative that tastes just as good in a cup of tea! In that respect, the struggle is real!
Whilst it may seem that our contributions are minimal, together we can all make an impact by just making small lifestyle changes, whether you want to go plastic-free, shop more ethically or grow your own vegetables.
I’ve shared more tips on being sustainable and some of the things I’m doing on the post below:
My own voice counts in Black Lives Matter ✊🏿
2020 brought talks about race to the forefront like never before and truly highlighted the racial divides evident around the world.
I witnessed divides even amongst people on my own Facebook friends list, most championed the black lives matter movement but others found ways to divert from the matter at hand by chastising George Floyd’s convictions.
Regardless of whether George Floyd was a criminal or not, no one white or black, deserves to take their last breath on the street with the knee of a corrupt cop on their neck. This shocking and unjustified act highlighted the type of violence inflicted on black communities and we were all right to take a stand.
Like many, I have grown up listening to black musicians (some of my absolute favourite musicians are black), I have black friends, therefore why would I not want to give my support to black lives matter. I found it unfathomable that some others would not want to do the same, even if their contribution may be small.
I have never spoken out about racism before, after all I have never experienced it, and because of this I never felt it was appropriate to speak out about something I have never faced myself. Though, the Black Lives Matter movement highlighted that everyone needs to speak up regardless of race to help combat the racism that still exists and prevents communities from being treated fairly.
It made me think about things that have never occurred to me before being white and the privileges that I never realised I had. For instance, I have never had to worry about being turned down for a job, or indeed a blogging opportunity due to the colour of my skin. These are factors we all need to be conscious of, stand up for in order for things to change.
As Otis Redding sang “A Change is Gonna Come.”
Not to believe everything I read
Something I stand for anyway, but a message I wanted to share to remind myself and others as we enter a new year.
Never has it been more important to rise above the fake news we see on social media apps. Never has it been more important to look to your own thoughts and values than to blindly follow both government policies and conspiracy theories. Whilst beneficial to understand the pros and cons on both sides, it is your own values that should determine your actions and not those of a political party or a conspiracy theory based on a meme your friend saw on Facebook.
Social media has become the basis of a fear-based society, one in which you have to be seen as acting in a certain way. After all, if you didn’t write on your mum’s wall on her birthday nor share a poignant post on Mother’s Day you don’t care right?! You’re faced with conflicting opinions preaching about whether or not you should or should not wear a mask to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and rather than bringing us all together, these platforms are driving us apart; if we let them of course.
Things got particularly heated towards the lead-up to the American presidential election, with social media platforms littered with content surrounding “p!zza-gate” and COVID-19 protests all geared to manipulate how people would vote. Again, always hone in on your own truth rather than be swayed by what you see on social media or indeed hear from politicians. Even some so-called spiritualists were caught up in these threads spreading negativity and it should be noted, true light-workers would ever coerce you into voting a certain way or make you feel inadequate for how you are handling the pandemic.
The truth is everyone is doing the best they can to handle situations they have never faced before 2020. Regardless of our own health, we have all had to make sacrifices to protect those that are more vulnerable, such as the elderly or those with low immune systems and health issues.
Obtaining news from different sources, of course, is going to lead to different opinions, but that isn’t a bad thing as we were not all born to be the same. What I don’t agree with is when others have taken it upon themselves to force their opinions on other people. We are all entitled to our own opinions and we should respect others to have theirs, even if we do not agree with them.
Issues regarding fake news and divides within societies have brought about debates about whether conspiracy theories groups or platforms should be censored. On this matter, I believe people have the right to speak freely, but I do think people should be given a disclaimer stating the platforms purposes (I.e. a news platform supporting a particular political party should state that they do, as what they present offers a biased opinion) and people have the right to opt out to seeing posts if they wish to.
We have the world at our fingertips and we should be able to access the information we seek freely if it is not harmful to others. However, greater disclosure needs to be provided to educate people to enable them to form their own unbiased opinions.
Always tap into my own truth
Spending time away from social media, whilst can be detrimental for success on my social media platforms has enabled me to connect with nature and myself. It gave me time to tap into my own intuitive truth and enjoy all the things that I often miss out on being on my phone on social media all the time. I’ve spent my time reading more than I ever have before (I’m usually more of a holiday reader, but there’s been none of that this year), listening to my favourite music whilst dancing around and getting creative. I even collaborated with a Spanish language school, which reignited my passion for learning Spanish.
I found that being on my phone on social media, whilst good for creating a community around my blog to aid my goals, was becoming a chore and I had slowly found myself becoming detached from the patriarchal side of always feeling like I had to be working. This left me feeling empty and took the enjoyment out of being social on social media.
Society has always dictated that in order to be successful you always have to be working, you need to dress a certain way, hold a certain position or title, be in a particular class or earn a certain amount of money.
We have all been brought up to trust authority figures without question, whether that be your parents, teachers, police officers or the government. We were told to listen to the teacher or to do what the boss of any situation says, because the opinions and values of superiors are worth more than yours. Or so we were told.
Spending the best part of six months mainly alone whilst I was on furlough and limiting my time on social media, as well as news headlines, I began valuing my own thoughts, opinions and values in a higher regard.
One thing I’ve come to learn over the last year and a half is that being older does not make you wiser. I’ve witnessed people that I have looked up to growing up be held back by their own pride and stubbornness, which has befounded me. It’s never too late to open communication lines or offer an olive branch.
Reconnecting with the matriarchal side of being at home, trying my hand at cooking, communicating with only close friends and loved ones, being in nature and the simple life helped fill my cup and it’s something I want to continue for 2021 and beyond. After all, what benefit would I have consuming myself with the news and getting anxious on matters I cannot control.
Mental health matters to us all
Up until I reached 30, I had always thought about mental health matters as issues other people face, not me.
I was 30 when I had my first panic attack and I realised that there were many anxiety triggers I had that I wasn’t aware of previously.
Perfectionism, overanalysing typical Virgo traits), people-pleasing, self-doubt, to name a few.
I had written a reflection on 2019 post to go alongside my real reflection on 2018, 2017 and 2016 posts, but I decided not to share it on the blog in the end as just writing the post was therapeutic enough to get things off my chest. The reality is that in 2019 I suffered more with anxiety than I ever had before.
I put too much pressure on myself in 2019 to do better in my marketing course, to spend every hour godsend to improve my blog and on top of my normal full-time job I was left constantly feeling drained and burnt out.
I avoided social situations because I was too tired, without energy for myself, let alone to give to other people. On the weekends I would be holed up with Adam and the bunnies when we weren’t travelling and quite honestly that was all I wanted to do.
In 2019 I realised that I had been trying to do too much, and it was inevitable that I was going to be left drained and burned out. I wasn’t living in the moment because I didn’t give myself the space and time to do that. I began to give myself more time to practice yoga and meditation, understand myself more on a spiritual level. After all, I’ve always been immersed in star signs and astrology.
I made changes to my lifestyle and began intuitively tuning in on the things I could do to fill my cup on the days I needed it.
But why am I talking about 2019, you may ask. Well, in 2019 I did the groundwork that I think enabled me to deal with 2020 a little better by treating myself kinder and adapting to a slower pace of life.
2020 became an extension of the work I had already started, giving me the time and space to connect with my core emotions and hone in on the little things I can do each day to realign my positive energy. One of these things is dancing my heart out, which I often find the best way to lift my spirits and raise my vibration. If you asked any of my friends where I would be in the club, they’d all know to find me on the dance floor and home has become my very own dance floor.
Many of us faced tough times and challenges in 2020 and I felt it appropriate to share my own thoughts and feelings on mental health as it is something that we all face in our lifetime.
Be kind – Caroline Flack
I can’t speak about mental health matters without mentioning Caroline Flack, as Caroline was always someone who radiated the most positive energy.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Caroline Flack, she was a British TV Presenter on Love Island among other shows. On February 15th 2020 Caroline took her own life and, whilst I didn’t know Caroline, it is something that saddened me and stayed with me despite the year’s unfolding events.
Caroline Flack is someone who always seemed to be the life and soul of the party, surrounded by friends and least of all someone you would expect to commit suicide.
I recall seeing her trip to Barcelona around the same time I visited my best friend in February this year. Despite the support and people around her, Caroline saw no way out, which is particularly poignant as little did she know her life would completely change in a matter of weeks due to the pandemic.
In 2020 many of us have had our lives turned completely upside down, but Caroline’s tragic death is a stark reminder that anyone can be suffering despite outward appearances and your life can change in an instance. If Caroline had the strength to approach things differently then the likelihood is she would have spent six months mainly isolating with her loved ones like the rest of it the world.
Be kind is one of the last messages Caroline shared on her Instagram page, and it is certainly something all of us can live by.
We all go through tough times that people may not be aware of. Rather than berating each other for the different ways we are handling the pandemic, living our lives, be kind and respect other people.
Since Caroline’s death, I have also unfollowed and muted the newspapers that showered her with hate, which without a doubt contributed to her demise.
It’s the little things in life that matter the most
2020 has shown me that I can live small without jetting off around the world. I’ve had no choice but to keep closer to home, with a small circle of loved ones around me, but it’s shown me that living small does have its benefits. For one, I’ve managed to save more this year than I have since Adam and I bought our house.
The weather was glorious during my time on furlough (which is always a plus living in England) and I got myself in a routine of walking around one of the lakes in my hometown every morning as soon as I woke up. I felt a connection with nature like never before, I noticed the little things, like the wind in the trees, birds singing in my garden and the slight ripple on the reflection in the lake when the swans had spotted me from a distance.
I discovered new places and more about myself, the things I like to do, the things that keep me motivated and I began to find gratitude in the smallest things.
Sometimes I think that I should have perhaps been a bit more productive during my time on furlough, but I didn’t need to be and I could have been called back at work at any time so I wanted to enjoy the time I had. Of course, I had daily worries and anxiety about my job, income, health of loved ones and the unknown of the pandemic, but I tried my best not to dwell on matters outside my control.
Whilst being put on furlough was outside my control, I do feel for all the key-workers who had to work through, which was likely a worrying time for both themselves and their families. I’d like to thank them for all they continue to do.
When I wrote my reflection on 2019 post (which I decided not to share) one of the main things I wanted to achieve in 2020 was to live more in the present. I’d realised that I had focused so much of my time on reflecting on the past and striving for the future, that I’d neglected the present moment and everyday joys. In doing so, at times I’d left myself feeling inadequate and anxious.
2020 had given me my wish to live my life in the present, of course not the way I’d imagined, though, to be able to do this has done wonders for me.
I haven’t had to worry about doubting myself or comparing myself to others as we’ve pretty much been in the same boat trying to make the best of a bad situation. During lockdown when I was binge-watching Tiger King, no doubt, David Beckham was doing the same. I’ve also got TikTok to thank for keeping me amused too!
Life in 2020 sure was a whirlwind!
A New Year doesn’t have to be filled with resolutions
I always feel a little bit in my own head around Christmas and New Year. That feeling that everything has got to be perfect, bigger and better than before. The presents need to be spot on and everyone has to have a wonderful time.
The pressure continues as I log onto social media wondering what everyone’s plans are for New Year’s Eve, check who’s having the best time and feeling sorry for my own poorly-made plans. As I finish this post before the NYE antics commence, I’m not fretting about my own plans or comparing myself to anyone else as everyone else (in the UK at least) is in the same situation making the best of a Tier 4 lockdown.
After a year of just being, I feel I can go into 2021 without the need for everything to be bigger and better than ever before. I can just be, without grand expectations of what a year should hold. I do not hold expectations of a new hope for the new year as we are entering the new year in the same situation, I’ll just be keeping my chin up as I have been all year.
Following my reflection on 2020, I do, however, feel stronger, wiser and more ready for a new year more than I ever have before!
What are your 2020 life lessons?
I hope you enjoyed reading my life lessons from 2020 if you’ve made it this far. It is rather an optimistic post for what has been a difficult year, but life is always what you make of it and approaching things from a more positive outlook can do wonders to boost your mindset.
I won’t be setting any resolutions this year, after all, hasn’t 2020 been restricting enough?!
Wishing you and your loved ones a happy and healthy 2021.