2020: A Review

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that 2020 has been the weirdest, craziest, scariest, most existentially-challenging, emotionally-draining year of my life.

A lot of bad things have happened and, at times, whilst caught in a Matrix-style existential mindset, I’ve become convinced that I’ve probably been living in an unpublished Lemony Snicket novel without being aware of it.

I mean, at least the Baudelaire kids were allowed to move between households…

The whole year has felt like an extension of that strange period between Christmas and New Year when you lose all track of time and end up eating an excessive amount of chocolate whilst engaging in a nostalgic Julie Andrews movie marathon because you’ve forgotten your purpose in life, there’s nothing else to do and at least Julie seems happy about things.

It takes one crazy year to mess with both the foundations of society and the concept time itself and it’s a bit weird to think that it’s coming to an end, almost like stepping out of some surreal alternate reality.

Months, weeks and days have melded into one another and become one long unstructured mass of time and, looking back, it’s hard to believe that I’ve achieved anything or done anything significant.

As a result, I thought it would be useful to write a post to remind myself that I have done some things this year, aside from of sitting on a sofa in my oldest tattiest hoody, staring into the existential abyss whilst stoically making my way through a family size bag of Doritos.

LIST OF 2020 ACHIEVEMENTS SOME THINGS I’VE DONE

  1. Survived 365 surreal, weird, stressful 2020 days.

2. Watched several of Boris Johnson’s ‘addressing the nation’ speeches and only considered punching the TV once or twice (exhibiting considerable emotional control).

3. Recovered from a spiraling Amazon addiction after realising that buying loads of things to help with stress (candles, incense sticks, meditation journals etc.) was only making me more stressed about the state of the high street and also the state of my bank account.

4. Managed to keep in touch with most of my friends, despite being confronted with my own face on Zoom more than I would have liked.

5. Didn’t shave my legs for the entirety of Lockdown 1.0.

6. Didn’t wear a bra for the entirety of Lockdown 1.0.

7. Briefly considered wearing a bra when going to the supermarket…

8. … and then didn’t (I’m sure that’s feminism or something… and by ‘something’ I mean extreme laziness).

9. Became closer to nature by taking lots of relaxing walks in the park.

10. Became closer to my dogs by taking several distinctly less relaxing walks in the park.

Swan was angered when Jessie made a unconsidered attempt chase it in what was potentially the most terrifying moment of my life to date.

11. Ran out of perfume and avoided buying more from Amazon by discovering a cheaper alternative.

12. Learnt to juggle (3 balls, not general life responsibilities)

13. Shaved my brother’s head and briefly considered becoming a barber. #RethinkReskillReboot

14. Resisted a sudden impulsive urge to shave my own head whilst bored and looking for something to do.

15. Briefly tried to eat more healthily to counter an increased amount of sedentary sofa time but then decided that it was a difficult time and I deserved to treat myself.

16. Did yoga like 10 times and only broke one item of furniture in the process.

17. Discovered a brand new way of burning calories.

18. Discovered a new comeback that has proved useful for whenever I get yelled at by groups of youths in the street.

19. Got bored and built a really tall tower out of used toilet rolls.

I mean, it looked a little bit like the Leaning Tower of Pisa before it fell on top of me so it was basically like being on holiday.

20. Took up mindfulness and meditation and stuck with it even though my body seemed intent on conspiring against me.

21. Survived several mental breakdowns.

23. Had more time to write and draw (it may have been an awful year but at least I’ve got a few decent cartoons out of it!)

All in all, I may have entered 2020 with a fresh rush of energy and a resolve to strive to become the best version of myself that I possibly could be. And I may now be ending it by dragging a significantly less impressive version of myself towards the finish line.

But, all things considered, I reckon that is the biggest achievement I could have hoped for.

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to check out some of my other posts. For more blog posts and drawings, you can also follow me on Instagram and Facebook .

I Think I Might Be A Background Character In My Own Life…

When I was younger, I used to have a very vivid imagination and spent a lot of time immersing myself in fictional worlds.

When I watched films like Lord of the Rings, I always identified with the main protagonists – I thought I’d be brave and courageous like Arogorn or Legolas or loyal and determined like Sam.

I guess I assumed that when a great crisis came along that threatened the entire world, I would grow up to be one of the heroes at the centre of the action, facing the threat head on.

However, as I’ve progressed into adulthood, I’ve come to realise that the person that I perceive myself to be doesn’t always match up with the person who I actually am in reality.

For a while now, I’ve had a sneaking suspicion that I might actually be one of life’s generic background characters and, if anything, the coronavirus pandemic has served to confirm this.

Nowadays, I’ve drastically lowered my expectations.

If I were a character in Lord of the Rings, I wouldn’t be Frodo or SamWise Gamgee – I reckon I’d be one of the bog-standard Hobbits that sat on my arse in the Shire whilst shit went down, progressively making my way through multiple meals a day with no real idea of what was going on.

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This is a more accurate representation of how I’ve spent my days in this time of national crisis.

Sitting at home with my thoughts is challenging in its own way.

Whilst I may be feeling powerless to change external circumstances, at the beginning of April I decided I could still adopt the mindset of a hero and work on myself so that I would exit lockdown feeling more physically and mentally robust than when I entered it.

My childhood protagonist complex kicked in again and I had visions of myself effortlessly holding my body in strenuous yoga positions like Luke Skywalker in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’.

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However, if you’ve read my previous blog post, you will know that my attempts transform myself into a zen yogic goddess weren’t particularly successful…

As the days and weeks have melded into one long strange expanse of time, my self-disapline has run off with my sanity, leaving me with a physical and mental state that more closely resemble Jabba the Hutt and that weird crazed rat creature that hangs out with him.

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If you enjoyed this post, feel free to check out some of my other posts. For more blog posts and drawings, you can also follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

I’m Worried That I Worry Too Much…

I have a tendency to be quite an anxious person.

I think it’s impossible not to experience some form of anxiety in our interconnected modern world world.

Advances in technology have meant that we are exposed to more electronic stimuli than ever before (eg. emails, online news articles and social media notifications) and it is difficult for our brains to process all this information without becoming overwhelmed.

Humans have highly active imaginations.

On one hand, this is great because it enables us to think creatively, visualise solutions to problems and progress as a species.

Unfortunately, my imagination doesn’t seem to want produce ground-breaking scientific discoveries or beautiful works of art and instead spends a significant amount of its time blowing tiny insignificant things out vastly of proportion.

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In the past, I have tried to retrain my brain to think in a healthier, more positive way.

However, I have found that forcing myself to believe that things are fine doesn’t give me space to fully acknowledge and process any negative emotions that I may be experiencing.

iceburg-2.pngAs a result, I usually end up desperately trying to maintain a serene and dignified outer image, despite the fact that I am feeling distinctly less fine that I was previously.

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All in all, the best way to deal with anxiety is to take time to understand how it works what triggers it so that it is easier to live alongside it as opposed to pretending that it isn’t there.

It is also important to surround yourself with people who can provide you with emotional support and, more importantly, a ready supply of comfort food.

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If you enjoyed this post, feel free to check out some of my other posts. For more blog posts and drawings, you can also follow me on Facebook,

I Think I Might Be A Modern Day Ebenezer Scrooge…

A Christmas Carol is one of my favourite festive stories, mostly because I feel a certain connection with the central character.

Although I do not identify with Scrooge’s attitude and general approach to life, on some level, I do relate to his experience in the novel.

Like Scrooge, I frequently find myself awake in the early hours of the morning.

However, unlike Scrooge, the voices that wake me up are not those of supernatural beings sent to teach me a lesson about the joy of Christmas and the fundamental meaning of life.  Instead, they are anxieties that originate from my own brain, piping up for no discernible reason whatsoever.

So, this Christmas, I have reimagined Dicken’s iconic spirits so that they represent some of the anxieties that often haunt me in the early hours – after all, there’s no better way to get into the festive spirit than using classic Christmas tales to analyse your own mental health!

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If you enjoyed this post, feel free to check out some of my other posts. For more blog posts and drawings, you can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

If the World’s a Stage Then I Am That Kid in the Nativity Play Who Forgets Their Lines and Never Quite Recovers From the Trauma.

As babies, we do not have many expectations of ourselves or others.

For the most part, we operate outside of social convention under the direct influence of our basic needs and emotions.

However, as we mature into adulthood, behaving in this way becomes increasingly unacceptable.

For example, as adults we are expected to eat in a dignified manner.

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We are expected to exert control over our bodily functions.

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We are expected to read age appropriate literature.

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We are expected to rely on ourselves as opposed to our parents.

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In order to retain our place in the bubble of social acceptance, between infancy and adulthood, we are taught to act.

We learn behavioural mechanisms which allow us to cope with certain social situations in a suitable way.

With enough practice, performing in a socially acceptable manner becomes habitual.

I encountered the first true test of my performance skills on my first day of primary school.

I knew that I was supposed to be interacting with the other children but my ability to do so was impaired by the fact that there were lots of people that I didn’t know.

This was overwhelming and then totally paralysing to my four year old brain.

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My reluctance to speak was troubling for my teachers, although I am unsure if this was due to the fact that it affected my ability to participate in their lessons or because I regularly looked like one of those kids from The Shining.

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After the shock of my first day, my stage fright extended for several months into the academic year.

Eventually, I did develop the ability to say words.

However, I soon discovered that saying words when you are in group of people often results in you becoming the centre of attention.

For me, being the centre of attention was a lot like being the centre of the Earth in that it made me feel under a massive amount of pressure and my cheeks had a tendency to become very hot.

As a result, I tried to divert any form social attention away from me.

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As a child, your understanding of the wider world is limited and it therefore easy to operate under the misconception that you are the most important thing in existence.

As a four year old, I believed that I was the centre of the universe.

On top of this, not interacting with people left a lot of space in my brain for thinking about other people interacting.

This manifested itself in an unhealthy tendency to assume that when people were talking without me, they were talking about me.

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In fact, it is much more likely that they were talking about something infinitely more interesting.

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My uncomfortable relationship with social interaction extended outside of the educational environment.

When I was 10, my mum decided that I was old enough to order my own ice creams.

This was a distressing development because I liked ice creams and was now required to interact with a human that I didn’t know in order to obtain one.

I cannot remember exactly what the lady at the ice cream stand looked like when I first ordered an ice cream but I’m pretty sure she was over sixty years of age, had soft white hair that looked like a small cloud floating on top of her head and was wearing woollen top with an image of a cat embodied into it.

I was terrified of her.

I was fully aware of the fact that, at that specific point in time, the lady’s primary purpose was to sell ice cream whilst providing me with a satisfactory customer experience.

However, a part of me still assumed that she would be shocked and outraged if I asked for one.

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As a teenager, I didn’t like the taste of coffee very much and was therefore excited to discover that you could overwhelm its natural bitterness with the sickening sweetness of artificial flavouring by buying a caramel latte at Starbucks.

I was less excited about the fact that I would have to order it.

However, repeated exposure to the source of fear can be an effective technique in reducing many anxieties and, by this point in my social development, I had developed a sufficient amount of self-awareness to realise that my initial feelings of stress and anxiety were often due to the fact that I had imagined an intimidating social situation in my head.

I knew that the best way to address these feelings was to face them head on and to immerse myself in the social situation before I had the chance to overthink it.

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I practiced my lines for a few minutes, saying the words ‘one medium caramel latte please’ to myself over and over again, before heading into the shop.

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I am gradually learning that the world doesn’t revolve around me and that most of the time people aren’t actually that bothered about the things that I do.

If I have an awkward social interaction with someone, the likelihood is that they won’t lay in bed that night thinking about how strange and weird I was and are instead much more likely to be thinking about how strange and weird they perceive themselves to be.

I actually like socialising now, although I am unsure if I am enjoying the experience of connecting and communicating with people or the rush of triumph I experience after performing a successful interaction.

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