2020 sucked, let’s just tell it as it is. I don’t want to waste too many words talking about the coronavirus, because – like everyone – I’m tired of it. However, not mentioning it at all doesn’t do 2020 justice either. The pandemic pretty much ruined year, for some people more than for others. Also for me, 2020 definitely wasn’t my favourite year, although it can not just be blamed on the pandemic. Here’s my honest 2020 review: a lesser year with some silver linings.
At the end of 2019 I started my first real job in communication in a big company. I was happy that I found a job quickly after returning from Austria and was looking forward to learn new things. I spent my first week there sitting alone in an office most of the time, not knowing what to do. It felt like nobody informed me about anything, yet at the same time they assumed that I knew everything about the company already. It made me feel insecure about my work and nervous to speak up in meetings.
Then I did something that made me feel like such an adult: I addressed the issue. In a team meeting I expressed how I felt and we came up with solutions. This helped me to feel more included, but the insecurity stayed. It was my first real job and I felt like I wasn’t taught anything, because I was the only person doing communication in the team. In hindsight I think that I learned a lot from figuring things out by myself, but at the time it wasn’t a comfortable feeling. I told myself I would give the job the benefit of the doubt until March, try it for at least six months.
Then March came, I turned 25 and celebrated by going to the cat café with my boyfriend. The weekend after, I planned to go on a weekend-training in storytelling. That’s when shit hit the fan: the coronavirus had seriously arrived in Europe. I remember being at work on the Thursday, doubting about whether or not I should go to the training. Later that night I got a call that the weekend was cancelled and it was also the last time I went to the office in months. Remember how I said I’d give my job a chance until March? Exactly, right when I planned to look for something else the pandemic took over. There were barely any job offers and I felt down and demotivated. There was one great offer and I made it to the second interview round, but unfortunately I didn’t get the job.
Specifically April and May were difficult for me. I struggled to work from home, because I didn’t feel confident in my job. I barely saw my friends and family and spent a lot of time in the apartment, which didn’t help to lift my spirits either. In this period, my boyfriend and I started talking about moving to a different country, as things weren’t working for him in the Netherlands. Everything was too much. More and more often I found myself crying for no good reason or without motivation to do anything. I didn’t know if I should apply for jobs in the Netherlands, because what was the point if we would move? But what if we didn’t move? I hated this uncertainty and it really affected my day to day life.
I’m not exactly sure how I did it, but somewhere in June I snapped out of this negative mindset. I realised how harmful my thoughts were to myself and my boyfriend, and I think this helped me to change. I started to accept that uncertainty is okay and my mind got calmer. There were less covid-cases every day and my two and a half weeks off work started to come closer. My boyfriend and I wanted to go to visit his family in Spain, after not seeing them for eight months. For a long time we didn’t know if we could go or not and a week before departure we changed our flight to avoid being in Barcelona.
We first spent a weekend on a (dirty) boat in Amsterdam and then travelled to Galicia. We spent two weeks there, of which I also spent four days alone in Santiago de Compostela. I felt fortunate and thankful that we could go to see his family, while complying with all the restrictions. During the two weeks we spent in Galicia, the travel advice changed from yellow to orange. Therefore we quarantined for ten days after returning to the Netherlands. Not very fun, but when you order groceries online and work from home, it isn’t all that hard.
Big life changes
We made the big decision to move to Galicia. We already made this decision before our visit, but for me this was the last piece of reassurance. I wanted to be there one more time to see how I felt, to be sure. We told my family before our trip and right after I mentioned it at my work. This came with a lot of stress too, as I knew not everyone would respond positively to this news. I felt relieved after I told everyone and counted the days until my last day at work, the 26th of October. I had a few days left to move out of my apartment before flying to Spain on the 2nd of November.
Again, life was unexpected. My grandpa – who didn’t do fine for a while – got worse and my mother asked me to stay. My boyfriend and I were apart for five weeks already, so it was hard knowing that it would be even longer. I was frustrated, but in the end I’m really glad I stayed. This way I was there for my family and I could go to the funeral of my grandfather. I didn’t expect that it would be important for me to be there, but it was. I got some closure and I’m grateful for that.
Then November 13th came, the new date for my flight to Galicia. After a long day of travelling, my boyfriend and I were reunited. I was SO happy. It was great to see each other again and to spend time together. The weather was great during the first two weeks, so I spent a lot of time outside exploring the area. I felt happy and motivated, I was so relieved that I didn’t have this job anymore. Now – one and a half months later – the super happy feeling lessened. In general, I feel very calm and I’m motivated, and that’s something I’m very thankful for. There are many things I’d like to see differently in 2021, but I feel very okay about how I’m ending 2020.
Even though the general story of 2020 isn’t the happiest one, I think it’s important to acknowledge the silver linings and the lessons learned. I learned that not feeling comfortable in my job is nobody’s fault, neither mine nor the colleagues’. It just wasn’t the place for me and that’s okay. Both throughout the year and when I left, I got a lot of positive feedback on my work. This taught me that I should believe more in the positive feedback than in my insecurities. 2020 also taught me that you don’t have control over everything and that’s okay. Being challenged in life and trying new things is something good, because it helps you grow as a person. Even if it doesn’t work out in the end, you’re taught valuable lessons and you have stories to tell when you’re old.
2020 had many silver linings, many smaller moments that make the year a little better:
- A wholesome day on Schiermonnikoog that felt like an entire vacation, to celebrate my boyfriend’s birthday
- Cuddling cats in the cat café to celebrate my birthday
- Visiting an alpaca farm and going for a walk with an alpaca
- A date night in the park, eating snacks and playing games
- Petting rabbits in the petting zoo
- A pizza night in the park with friends
- A workshop in podcast making that really got me into listening to podcasts
- Lots of creative time during the pandemic for painting with acrylics, journaling and drawing with a tablet
- Exploring the parks around our house during the pandemic
- Watching the sun set over the ocean in Galicia
And this is just at the top of my mind. My 2020 journal – the one that has the first ten months of the year in it – is in the Netherlands, so I can’t flip through it. But I’m sure that if I could, I’d encounter many more beautiful moments that made 2020 a little bit better.
Blog by Linda
As for my blog, the year started with a fresh layout that I felt very excited about. Throughout the year I made some changes to make it look a bit more calm, but the original idea of January is still there. I wrote a lot of content during the year, some of my favourite pieces linked here:
- My ESC-diary in retrospect series about my year volunteering in Austria
- My Erasmus-diary in retrospect series about my semester studying in the UK
- I started with my Mi Vida en España series after moving to Galicia
- Twenty five, with a little story about every year of my life so far
- El Plan: moving to Galicia, Spain, explaining why I moved and what my plan is
- A weekend on a dirty boat in Amsterdam, exactly as the title says
- Summer holidays in Galicia, part 1, about exploring beautiful places in the area
- Summer holidays in Galicia, part 2, about spending four days alone in Santiago de Compostela
2020 in songs
I made a playlist of my 12 favourite songs of 2020, one for each month of the year. And honestly, these songs don’t make me think about the pandemic or anything like it. They remind me of sunny days on the balcony, drinking wine alone in my apartment, painting with headphones in and walking along the coast. I hope that despite everything your 2020 also has a silver lining and that 2021 will be a better year for all of us ✨