Since the end of January is practically here, I feel I've had enough time to fully reflect back on the year we've left behind. I wasn't sure how to approach this post, I don't want to reiterate the same thoughts and feelings the entire world has been saying: it hasn't been easy. For the first time in my life there has been a universal feeling of relief over the wrap up of what is quite possibly the worst year we could have imagined. It's a shame, I had some incredible expectations for myself in 2020. I was ready to forge a path for my future. I was ready to be inspired and to take on the year despite my anxieties and my doubts. And then March said: "Hold on I have some darkness you need to experience first."
And though we've been witness to a lot of pain and overall sense of loss this past year, there have been glimpses of hope and the chance for change. I don't want to gloss over the intense rollercoaster of a year we've had, so I've decided to share the good and the bad. The happy days, and the days I've felt my lowest. I've chosen to go month by month, to give myself the opportunity to examine and breakdown the effects of 2020 thoroughly.
In January I had high hopes for the new year. At the end of the month I'd be starting my last semester in the Marketing, Advertising and PR certificate program and I was excited at the prospect of possibly starting an internship to head me in the right direction career wise. The class I'd be taking, Public Relations, was the one I had been most looking forward to the most.
That month I also took a trip to MD with my sister to a family baby shower! We don't get to my dad's extended family too often since they're spread out over the east coast, and looking back on it now I feel fortunate that we had the chance to spend time with them.
This month was actually pretty exciting! On February 17th my nephew Emmett Joseph was born, and he's been a bright spot through it all. Although it's been difficult not being able to meet him as of yet, FaceTimes and almost daily pictures and videos of him throughout his first year have been comforting.
I also started getting more into skincare, and I am so glad I did. I wasn't prone to acne in high school, but it's started rearing it's ugly face in my 20's. Lucky me! I started to do some research. Naturally, I asked Twitter for some help. I also turned to Youtube and found some skincare experts that introduced me to products that are now a part of my routine.
On February 23rd I spent the day with Makenzi, and boy am I glad we did. It ended up being the last and only time we saw each other this past year, which was a real bummer since she's only an hour train ride away in Manhattan. We got brunch at our favorite spot, Brownstones, and then headed to the beach. It was a beautiful day with almost spring like weather. It felt too good to be true being it was only February. The calm before the storm, I guess! Here's to hoping 2021 will allow us the opportunity to reunite and enjoy an afternoon together again.
I had another brunch date before the world shut down with my friend Gabbi. It was at a new spot, for us, in Patchogue called Buttermilk's Kitchen. We decided to go all in on the mimosa's by getting the flight. There were three different juices to go along with it: orange, grapefruit and cranberry. The food was also incredibly tasty and the coffee was brewed fresh in front of us! I'm looking forward to getting back to a semi-normal life so we can make a return visit.
My friend Heather from work invited me to see Celine Dione with her at Nassau Coliseum. Though my head was pounding, my first sign of flu symptoms unbeknownst to me, I'm glad I can say that was my last concert before the shut down. Celine put on an incredible show, and her interaction with the audience made her performances even more appealing.
That first week in March, two days after I hung out with Gabbi and the night I saw Celine Dione, I came down with the flu, leaving me bed bound for a week. As I was recovering the world was getting its first dose of chaos. The panic was setting in and that meant the panic shopping was at an all time high. Those first two weeks of March I was thankfully not working due to being sick and then having taken vacation time. I missed the worst of it.
While chaos ensued at work, and when I was fully recovered, I made a trip to visit my friend Andrea in Colorado! It was the last weekend of normalcy I had all year. She showed me around Denver, we went hiking, and we even met up with my cousin Laura and her husband Eddie for dinner and drinks. It was a nice long weekend, with a pal I usually see once a year, doing things friends who see each other all the time get to do. It was nice to hang out with her and see what her life has been like post-grad. I've visited her in her home state, North Carolina, and she's come to New York so it was a thrill for me to travel somewhere I've never been and experience it for the first time with a close friend.
I also went remote for my final semester of the Marketing, Advertising and PR certificate during the early weeks in March. I was actually looking forward to experiencing this class because so far we had some interesting discussions, so I was disappointed to say the least. I don't feel as if I learned as much as I could have being without that in person aspect.
This was also the month Kelsea Ballerini's album 'kelsea' was released, a few days after I returned from Colorado. It was a bright spot at the start of an overwhelming year ahead. Music really was a saving grace for me in 2020.
April was probably one of the better months for me this year. I was working early, and sort of had a consistent work schedule, my family was all working from home and doing school, so it was comforting to have them around. I started to do extra reading, besides what we read in book club, and even got back into working out (which I think I actually started doing in March). I also started to listen to more podcasts like Fake Doctors, Real Friends and Showmance (the Glee rewatch podcast). Other than work being hectic, I was in a good mental space. I was keeping myself occupied and Facetiming friends consistently, so it made the lack of normalcy feel less overwhelming.
May felt similar to April, I was still working out, reading and listening to my podcasts. I started rewatching Scrubs (thanks to the podcast), I joined a second bookclub and I was happy in my routine.
In June, I was inspired to write more. I started following more writers on Instagram and seeing how they shared their work with the world. I had some thoughts written in my notes app so I made some graphics for them and started posting. It felt good to share my words in this way. I explored my docs to see what else I could use. I found an article I wrote over a year ago and wondered why I never shared it. I decided to submit it to thought catalog, because why not? Shortly after I realized I had submitted the same article not long after I wrote it and never heard back from them, so I felt silly. But, a few days later I got an email that it was published. It had been a goal of mine for a long time to be featured on there and it's still surreal to me that it happened.
July was rough, to say the least. My routine and habits I had developed a few months prior were starting to fade. The weight of the world started to take a toll on me. I was consistently exhausted and it felt like the news was getting worse and worse with each passing day. I wasn't reading, I wasn't writing, my motivation and inspiration was slipping away.
The one bright spot was Taylor Swift and her surprise drop of 'folklore.' Waking up to that notification was not something I ever expected, but a real life line. The album was full of comforting lyrics that I connected to, and it was a major pick me up I desperately needed.
I was still living off the high of 'folklore,' and was determined to use it to inspire my own writing. It had been a while since I had written anything and I felt it was time to try again. I had been having a lot of conversations with my friends about dating: how hard it is, how we wish we were still naive to it and didn't feel so lonely. But also how exhausting it can be. I was also listening to 'Lover,' while cleaning and thinking back on my conversations I was struck with inspiration. I took out my phone and jotted down a little of my thoughts. I made it into a graphic and posted it on my Instagram. And it got so much more attention than I anticipated. It's hard to promote yourself on a platform who's algorithm is consistently working against small creatives. It was definitely a confidence booster. I try not to dwell on how much notice my posts because as much as I write to connect with people I sometimes forget writing is supposed to be therapeutic for me too.
A couple of weeks later I was still riding on the inspiration, so I wrote some more. Taylor's new and previous music was encouraging. I wanted to channel my inner Swift, and write based on my feelings. And as a result I wrote another little post for my Instagram. I posted it but as I read it over I knew I wanted to expand it. I wanted to submit to thought catalog again. I was feeling motivated since getting the first publication and I was determined for it to happen again. So, I opened it in a word doc and made it longer. I sent it to friends for some feedback, and ended up changing it around and editing it with some help from a friend. And when it felt complete I submitted it.
Despite my writing, August was a difficult month. The isolation due to the pandemic was starting to affect me. I hadn't been talking to my friends much and I was starting to take things personally. The lack of connection and communication made me believe things that weren't true, and overall I was not in a good mental headspace. I was reading into things that weren't there and starting to feel needy and paranoid. The loneliness was wearing me down, and made for a rough few weeks.
A few days after I submitted the article they published it. Despite everything 2020 took from us, I'm proud of myself for believing in my writing for the first time in a long time. It was overdue.
September is also my birthday month. I love my birthday, usually have high expectations for it. Which is kind of odd, because I don't necessarily like attention. But, I don't want to go unnoticed either. I don't know how to explain it because I don't understand it myself. My birthday plans don't always work out, but this time I made sure they would. I wrote about it in a blog post in case you missed it. It was a really great day, the best birthday I've had in a while.
MORGAN GOT MARRIED! And I got to see two of my best friends for the first time in a year. It was a great time and one of my favorite memories of 2020. Definitely a wonderful distraction from the state of the world, and a relief to be away from work for a few days. I wrote a post about the whole weekend here.
My sister and I visited a pumpkin patch to take the typical seasonal pictures and I took her to one of my favorite coffee shops for the first time. It was a fun day and I'm glad we made time to do it.
I also made the most of Halloween at home. I still enjoy dressing up and this year I was a Hufflepuff student! Living my dreams as a Hogwarts student thanks to Hot Topic!
At this point, the last two months of the year are a blur. Work was crazy every day. There was no down time or chance to breathe. The store was packed daily and my desire or motivation to do anything when I got home was nonexistent. I was thankful for the presence of Thanksgiving at the end of the month, although sad it couldn't be celebrated in the usual way. I missed spending it with my extended family. We made the most of though. We had appetizers galore, I made apple cider mimosas, and my siblings and I dressed up for the occasion.
Book club had been struggling, and some of us wanted to try and safely get together. So I sent out a text hoping some if not all of us could find a way to do so. Originally everyone responded yes, but by the day of most dropped out. In the end it worked out. Me and three others met up at Applebee's and spent the evening catching up and talking about some of the books. It was a night I desperately needed, and I'm glad we were able to do it.
December was hectic, to say the least. I had fallen behind on my reading, so I skipped the book for October and November and dove right into our holiday book. It wasn't great, but it was a quick read that distracted me from the craziness of the season.
Taylor Swift, shockingly enough, dropped a second album on December 11th. I was still processing the magic of 'folklore,' I was not prepared for the sister album 'evermore.' It is hauntingly beautiful, and while I see them as two parts of the same album, I am leaning more towards 'evermore' at the moment. It's like 'folklore's,' more experienced older sister. I hope to write a more detailed opinion on the two albums soon.
This was month was pretty uneventful, besides Christmas, of course. It was once again spent at home with only immediate family. It was nice to have a low key Christmas, but still made me miss the big family gatherings we're used to having. New Year's was quiet too, we played games, ate appetizers and celebrated the coming of the new year with the ball drop and champagne.
I also briefly got to see my friend Rachel when she dropped off some goodies and Christmas cookies. It was nice to see her even though we couldn't spend time together. She's been my best friend since senior year of high school and I'm grateful for her and her consistent support and presence in my life.
2020 was a year of self-reflection for me. I learned a lot in terms of my self-worth and my relationship with myself and those around me. I had plenty of time, as I'm sure we all did, to step back and acknowledge things about myself, my anxieties and how to put myself in a better mindset and not let things overwhelm me unnecessarily. I can't figure it all out in a year, but I think I grew a lot and I hope I'm able to carry a better perspective with me into the new year. I still have a lot to work on, but recognizing triggers and talking myself into a calmer place mentally is a good place to start.