You can not really think about anything else in December but the results of the year. With the rise of social media, we have got to post summaries of what we have planned at the beginning, our progress, and cute little videos from the best moments of this year.
This December started just like that. However, something went wrong. Instead of being proud and somewhat nostalgic, my friends and I were devastated.
Last Tuesday, in the pile of forgotten things on the upper shelf of my cupboard, I found a planner. It was the first one that I have ever got and actually used. I bought it while being on Erasmus in December 2019. I was so excited for the things to come so that I can write them down and remember everything I did while going through ink-filled pages at the end of 2020.
Surprise, I have not written a thing in there since April.
So I flipped through pages last Tuesday and came across my goals for 2020. I checked off two out of eighteen. I was sitting there, looking at all the planned trips, exciting programmes, and parties that I had to organise or visit, and my heart was slowly breaking.
I tried to reflect on what I did this year and nothing went as planned. I did not apply for Master and, consequently, did not get in. I did not visit the home countries of my Erasmus friends. I did not learn French, or got 1500 subscribers on my blog, or tracked my mood, or texted someone every day to check up on them, or...
It felt like this year I did not achieve anything. I was going around in circles, being there but not really doing anything.
Even if I did get an internship that I dreamt about, it feels like it is not something big. I mean, something is changing in your life but you can not notice because you just stayed at home. You spent your entire year in one place when growth is so closely related to moving. When you do not run around the city with coffee in hand, constant meetings, and the haste of the same busy people around you, can you really feel like you are doing something?
Can exciting things happen at home? We are used to thinking about home as our safe place, comfort zone, rest. So even if something happens, you still do not feel them because you just sit in front of the screen.
My friends have started to freak out as well. Some of them just got upset and even less motivated than they already were. Some packed the entire year in one month, trying to achieve goals at the last minute. No one handled it well, with some of us having no energy for 2021 and others being severely burnt out.
However, we forget that this year is different. Nothing is the same as it was. So why we hold on to our year summaries that much?
When I was writing down my goals, I could not have imagined the pandemic happening. So I did not add things like:
- taking care of my mental health
- being comfortable staying at home alone
- staying sane and smiling at least once a day
This is not the year to plan new projects, go on trips, or meet new people every day. Please, accept simple things as achievements. The pandemic is happening. It is not a productivity race. Do not put a lot of pressure on yourself by thinking that the year was worthless.
You did well. You lived through this. You went out for walks and probably learned how to bake banana bread by now. You visited your classes, even though you could not bring yourself to change pajamas on some days. You woke up every morning and fought through bad news, loneliness and isolation. Wherever you are, I believe that you did so well. Even if you do not believe it yourself.
You did grow. The growth is just difficult to notice when you are at home. Take a minute of your time and write down all the things that you did this year. I promise, you did so much more than you think.
Please, remember all the small steps. Be proud of them. Thank you for not giving up.