2021 has come to an end but in many ways, it feels as if the last couple of years has merged into one anyway. The pandemic has affected all of us in some way or another. While it has been tough at times, personally there have been more ups than there have downs.
I started 2021 in Melbourne, where I had been living for the last couple of years- and I planned on being there still to this day. I never could have anticipated that we would have to endure four more lockdowns this year, culminating with me moving back to the UK. Leaving wasn’t an easy decision but as a consequence, I got to reconnect with friends and family back home in the UK. What’s more, I finally managed to make the transition to a full-time career as a freelancer. By some miracle, I also managed to fit in three holidays at the end of 2021- to Lisbon, to Stockholm to visit one of my best friends, and finally, for a family holiday to Sri Lanka to celebrate my 25th birthday.
With never-ending lockdowns in Melbourne, I felt trapped for a lot of 2021. However as we learn to live with Covid, it’s important to be thankful for the things that we have. We can do our best to live our normal lives, continue to make future plans, and most importantly, we can seize whatever opportunities come our way. Because, if I’ve learned one thing in the last year, it’s that sometimes you have to fight against logic, and simply do what feels right in the moment.
Here are some life lessons learnt from 2021.
It’s important to constantly check-In with yourself
At some point in 2021, I realised that I wasn’t feeling like the main character in my life. It wasn’t until I stopped distracting myself for long enough to check-in, that I realised that I needed to take action. This is why checking in with yourself is so important, whether that’s on a day-by-day basis or every few months, to look at the broader picture. In the pandemic, it’s easy to get caught up being told what to do, that you forget to ask what you need to do.
You never regret going for a run
In periods when I haven’t felt that great this year, running has kept me going. Whether it was a short ’round the block’ jog or a 10k somewhere scenic, running helps give me a sense of freedom and control in a very unpredictable world.
Good friends are invaluable
I am not sure that I would have stayed in Australia for as long as I did if it wasn’t for my friends. From beach bike rides to dinner parties and countless cups of coffee, my friends have supported me, inspired me, and had me crying from laughter throughout this pandemic. It has been great to make new friends, and reconnect with old ones when I moved back to the UK.
Some of my favourite days in 2021, were spent on my bicycle. Riding a bike is something that I have only really got into this year, having not really done it since I was a child. At first, I was a little nervous about riding in the city but soon enough- I was cycling everywhere.
Then, when I moved back from Australia, I ended up taking a couple of months of work. For someone who was previously a bit of a workaholic, this was hard. At first, I didn’t know what to do with all the extra time- and then I discovered yoga. Yoga at my local studio has been such a discovery. It helped me to feel connected with others and myself and really gave me some peace of mind. Not to mention, it’s great for flexibility. I also signed up for a travel writing course, and I am having so much fun taking my writing in new directions.
The smallest things can be ritualistic
Coming back home has also allowed me to take a break from my chaotic schedule and slow down. I have learned how to really take pleasure in the small things, whether that’s making my coffee in the morning, going for a walk or having a relaxing bath.
If something doesn’t feel right, trust it
In July, my visa had just been renewed allowing me to stay longer in Australia, but something didn’t feel right (even though staying had been my dream). Instead, I applied and received a job offer to work in London before I moved home, but once I started, it didn’t feel right either. Moving to a house share in London didn’t feel right and neither did looking for work in Brighton. In fact, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. However, by taking time out, the ideal job presented itself- and I hadn’t even been looking for it.
Life can bend to your rules
It’s easy to get consumed with where you think you should be at certain points in your life. When I was younger, I started university because I thought I should go and then I realised that I had made the wrong decision and dropped out. For so long, I was worried about the impact that it would have on my career as a writer, but by continuing to follow my passions, it worked out. There were so many full-time jobs out there that I could have taken but by following my dream to travel and become a freelancer, I now have the flexibility and freedom that I was always looking for. Freelancing has allowed me to add continuity to my life. So, whether I decide to stay in the UK, go back to Melbourne or, travel elsewhere in the future, it’s not so scary. It goes to show that if you go through the motions towards the life you want to live, chances are one day, it will be your reality.
Be grateful for travel
Travel was something I used to take for granted because the world was only a plane ride away, right? Wrong. Having the opportunity to take a few trips away this year, after so many travel restrictions has been fantastic. I forgot how amazing it feels when you step off a plane somewhere new or see something in person, that has been on your bucket-list for so long. I also forgot that travel is a privilege, and while its important to plan your next trip, you must also be grateful for the ones that you have already had.
So 2022 is here and a lot of us are asking, now what? The reality is that none of us can predict where we will be in a years time, let alone in a pandemic. However, I have some ideas of things that I would like to achieve in the coming months and I am going to do my very best to make them a reality, despite whatever obstacles come my way. However, it things don’t work out like I want, then I am ok with that. I guess what we can all take from the last couple of years is that even if things don’t go as we planned, then maybe what we planned, wasn’t what was right for us after all.
Wishing you all a very happy new year.