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times, whilst caught in a Matrix-style existential mindset, I’ve become convinced that I’ve probably been living in an unpublished Lemony Snicket novel without being aware of it.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 .

The Problem With Inspirational Quotes.

When I am browsing (aka. procrastinating and generally wasting my life) on the internet, I frequently come across inspirational quotes on various social media platforms.

I’m sure lots of people find these quotes empowering.

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However, I tend to find them a bit overwhelming.

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Although I think that self-belief is a positive thing in many ways, I sometimes find that relying on myself to be the sole engineer of my own success can cause me to put a lot of pressure on myself.

I sometimes feel underqualified to deal with the task of leading my own life as if whoever is responsible for bestowing the gift of life forgot to include the instruction manual when they gave one to me.

I often try to be more proactive and make plans in an attempt to map out my future in a structured way.

Making plans makes me feel momentarily powerful as if I am the sort of person who can effectively navigate life and exert control over the things that happen to me.

However, what normally happens is that I end up sitting with the plan in front of me with absolutely no idea how to implement it – which is a bit like trying to use a map with faulty navigation equipment.

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I tend to make most of my life plans in January.

Like most people, every January, I decide that I am immediately going to reconstruct myself as a new healthier, happier, more productive human being.

For a brief period of time, I genuinely believe that I possess the ability to do this.

However, it soon becomes apparent that this is not the case.

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It turns out that making a change in your life requires more than temporary resolve.

It involves taking your initial motivation and transforming it into habit – it is a commitment to continue performing behaviours that may initially feel unnatural and are sometimes the complete opposite of those that you have exhibited your entire life until they become integrated into your daily routine.

It is easy to make a strong statement on January 1st, experience a setback a few weeks later and immediately assume that your entire self-improvement endeavour is doomed.

So this year, I am resolving to not to put too much pressure on myself, accept that setbacks are part of the process and to remember all that I can really do is try my best to navigate life whilst attempting to be the most functional, together version of myself that I can be.

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.

I Think I Am Suffering From Holiday Season Withdrawal…

January is quite a confusing time of year for me.

In the UK, the majority of holidays are concentrated between the months of October and December.

Although I no longer enjoy Halloween and Christmas as much as I used to when I was younger, I still like using the holidays as an excuse to consume a copious amount of food and drink before justifying the consequent damage to my waistline/ general health using the phrase ‘it’s *insert holiday name here* – I deserve to treat myself.’

In addition, the holidays provide winter with a kind of structure, helping to break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks.

There is always an occasion to prepare for and, up until the end of December, it is possible to propel myself through the long dark months of cold miserable weather on a tide of festive merriment.

However, eventually January comes around and I am suddenly released into the new year with nothing on the immediate horizon.

I never know what to do with myself without the incessant stream of holidays that have kept me occupied since late October.

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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.

Festive Eating – The Art of Consuming Enough Food to Find Yourself on the Verge of Exceeding the Physical Capacity of Your Stomach and Then Somehow Managing to Make Your Way Through an Entire Box of Chocolates.

Christmas food is in a league of its own.

In the 21st century, there is increased awareness of the health risks of excessive eating and therefore the majority of people tend to exert a bit of control over what they eat.

Not at Christmas.

Every time we substitute chips with salad, deny ourselves a slice of cake or practice any other form of culinary self-control, a little bit of tension is stored within us.

All of this tension is released on Christmas day.

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The sheer mass of food present at Christmas is enough to intimidate most people.

Food is everywhere.

Some items of food are served within other items of food, like Inception but with calories instead of dreams.

People buy presents that are specifically targeted to further increase their ability to consume food and drink.

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It is impossible to escape from the near continuous torrent of food.

The abundance and accessibility of food induces you eat at a rate beyond that which you would have previously perceived possible.

Items of food are often actively brought to you by other members of the family who are  trying to offload them onto you in a desperate attempt to halt their own unstoppable consumption.

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It is likely that members of your family will have prepared dishes which they look upon with the same sense of pride that Michelangelo experienced upon the completion of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling.

It is therefore hard not to experience a sense of obligation when they offer you a portion of their culinary magnum opus.

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Christmas day is a bit like Black Friday for your stomach in that it receives an unprecedented amount of business, all the digestive enzymes that work there get overly stressed and eventually everything implodes, leaving stranded you in a state of comatose on the sofa.

The physical consequences of this implosion normally manifest themselves when you attempt to dress yourself on Boxing Day and closing the zip on your jeans is the equivalent of squeezing said jeans, along with various other items of clothing, into an undersized suitcase before you go on holiday.

Once Christmas Day has passed, you are unsure if you will ever need to eat again.

However, on New Year’s Eve, the calories strike back in the form of alcoholic drinks.

New Year’s Eve calories are much more subtle than Christmas calories.

Not only is it hard to consider a liquid calorific, the more alcohol you ingest, the more intoxicated you become and the less aware you are of how calories work.

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Unless you possess an uncommonly high metabolism, it is impossible to consume vast quantities of food and without it exerting adverse effects on your waistline.

In order to counteract the calorific onslaught of Christmas day and New Year’s Eve, many people decide to take up running.

Running is similar to eating in that if you do for long enough it makes you feel sick.

When you first start running, it seems that everyone you pass doesn’t appear to be struggling as much as much as you are.

This may be because these people are just really fit.

However, it is comforting to imagine that a significant amount of people are just maintaining an illusion of fitness in order to appear impressive for as long as it takes to fully pass another person.

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