I’m Looking Back on 2020 With Gratitude
Cast your mind back to December 2019. It seems impossible to fathom now, but it’s fair to say most people began looking forward to the new year – 2020 – with optimism and enthusiasm. 12 months later, a quick poll might reveal that the majority of us are looking forward to putting this year in the rearview mirror and as far from memory as possible. It hasn’t just been a beast of a year – 2020 is the ultimate meme. It has been a riddle, joke and dirge all at once.
Yet though the bulk of the year (10 months since the pandemic began in earnest) can be categorized as a swirling tornado of fowl feces, there have been moments to look back on with gratitude; dare I say fondness. I’d like to spend my last post of the year recalling those moments. And I would be really grateful if you’d do the same in the comments, on Twitter, or in a journal you keep at home. If it’s one thing this pandemic and this year has taught me, it’s the importance of documenting precious memories and praising the light in dark times.
So! Without further ado and in no particular order, here are the moments/incidences/events that brought me joy in 2020:
The Home Edit
Who knew cleaning up could be so much fun? Maybe that blundering dinosaur Barney was on to something after all! However, hosts Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin are certainly more pleasing to the eye and definitely give better instructions than that wine-colored reptile ever did. When the global lockdowns began (and then were extended) a lot of us were searching for something – anything – to give some sense of control over our lives back. Where better to start affecting change than in your immediate environment? Like the pandemic, The Home Edit (or at least its philosophy) had a global impact. The timing for this show was perfect, and thanks to Joanna and Clea’s system, everything in my home has its place.
The System has made baking easier. Baking was a lifeline for me: Incredible for my mental health and incredibly bad for my waistline. I joined in the Dutch oven/sour dough phase of the pandemic fairly early, but I quickly moved on to cakes. Buttercream is my jam, and it’s much nicer to look at.
Elsa Majimbo, Yungbbq, Lydia Forson & Dem
2020 has been a GREAT year for discovering African comediennes. Their humor and wit were a welcome distraction, but more than that, it’s been a thrill to watch them get the global recognition they deserve. Elsa bagged a deal with Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty, Yungbbq is raking up partnerships in rapid succession, Munya Chawawa aka Unknown P, signed a deal with Atlantic records… My heart has been so full watching these brilliant creatives get their due.
I know IG gets a bad rep for promoting unrealistic lifestyles (and choices), but the app really has been the MVP in this season. People log onto IG because we want to see fantasy and beauty. We want to, in the immortal words of F. Scarlett, escape from reality, not be confronted with more of it. Did you take a look outside over the past year? It was a ‘no’ from me. So yes, Ingrid, reshare all your throwback pictures of you and Bjorn ice swimming in naught but your Speedos until the dazzling lights of the aurora borealis.
IG also gave me a previously untapped creative outlet with The Reading Room. It was a 21-day project (the original planned duration of South Africa’s lockdown) where I read random ish – shampoo bottles, nutritional facts on peanut jars, the Bible – to what turned out to be an audience interested in that kind of content. Y’all weird.
Watching folk live in luxury
In the beginning of the pandemic, when people were losing their jobs, homes AND lives, it felt really perverse to watch influencers and wannabes alike flaunting their wealth online. Now was not the time! And then four month later I got into it. I looked forward to hearing about the new Hermes bag such and so had bought, or the designer shoes Miss Thang had acquired. It was pleasantly agonizing – almost like self-flagellation. I’m weird.
I am astounded by how much my sewing and beading has improved. Out of all the consequences of watching my referrals/contract work shrivel and wither, this has been the best. In the many hours spent indoors, I was able to dream and execute some lovely pieces. I gave some away as gifts and sold a few. (Which the South African postal service promptly lost, thereby causing me financial loss through refunds and materials. I’d rather not talk about it.)
Watching unjust systems and false prophets fall
This is a blog post on its own, but it’s evident that as a race, we aren’t going back to the way things were, no matter how much the establishment may yearn for it. In the early days of the pandemic, we saw how quickly many of the structural and economic changes citizens have fought, advocated and begged for were implemented. We saw solutions to decades old problems present themselves within a matter of weeks. Homeless people were given shelter, people who have lived without reliable access to potable water were provided for and steady fiscal safety nets have been provided for people who have lost their jobs. (Only in civilized nations. Not America.) The pandemic proved that we CAN have an equitable society where every global citizen’s needs are met.
False prophets like Paula White, Pat Robertson, Kenneth Copeland and a whole host of Evangelicals who have diluted the gospel with their political sycophancy have been shamed publicly, and I’m so happy to see it. Their brand of Christianly has done so much damage to the reputation of God’s Kingdom, and it sent shivers of joy down my spine to see them exposed. Coro Na Shatta!
As a social person, I expected the effects of lockdown and mandated isolation to run my spirit ragged. The opposite happened. About a month ago, I sat contemplating life as it was and realized: “Hey. I haven’t had a bout of depression this whole year!”
Of course I’ve felt sad, like when my father-in-law died or when I remember that I haven’t seen or hugged my Liya in nearly a year (she’s in the States with her grandmother), but that debilitating weight of melancholy that renders me immobile – sometimes for days – has not appeared. I believe it is because the pandemic has forced us to protect our physical space, which for me has had positive mental and spiritual consequences. Inaccessibility has meant limiting exposure to much of the unpleasantness that society brings with it.
It’s so strange, but in that sense, I don’t know if I want to return to “normal”.
That’s it! As we look forward to 2021, this time with caution and having fully read the Ts & Cs, I’m wishing you all health and moments of light.