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2020 was a shit year but a good 10 year anniversary



2020 was the year that really wasn't...wasn't it?

To try and bring some personal positivity to my end of year post here are some good things that did happen to me. I started learning Scottish Gaelic and can now say basic phrases. I enrolled on to a diploma for free through the organisation's furlough fund and received good grades for both my assignments (the exam takes place in February). I started a podcast which hasn't been a runaway success but it hasn't crashed and burned either. I also watched a lot of Netflix and listened to three long-running podcasts in their entirety. I also fell into an Irish politics rabbit hole and now I'm weirdly knowledgable on the topic. My nicest news, however, is that two people from my past reached out to me and we cleared the air and they are now both back in my life. I guess 2020 made you realise that life is too short to stay ex-friends when nothing particularly bad happened and we were just in a younger and different place. 

2020 was also the year I turned 30 (I'm still getting used to saying I'm a 30-something). Turning 30 wasn't a particularly big deal in itself. I didn't feel anything change in me when I woke up that morning. Though I did cry at the stroke of midnight because the small 20-year-old in me who was having a shit time in 2010 realised just how happy she managed to become and all that money spent on self-help books was worth it. Even though I turned 30 in the midst of a global pandemic and it did spoil my birthday plans somewhat, I still had a lovely long weekend full of love. For as shit as 2020 was, I'd still take it over 2010 and 2020 ended up being a massive year of reflection (aided by being on furlough...lots of time to think). 

I published two blog posts back in the autumn that were very personal. One was marking the ten year anniversary since my last official relationship ended and the other was an ode to my twenties, where I talked in a bit more detail about the changes that took place during that decade of my life. 

If you thought I was done talking about that period of my life 10 years ago, you were wrong. #sorrynotsorry. 

When I returned home for Christmas in 2010 I was emotionally exhausted and a bit of a state to be honest. With my recent university term ended I now couldn't busy myself with activities to distract me from home unhappy I was. So I decided to make some New Year Resolutions, something I had only half-heartedly done in the past but this time I felt an urge to really think about my future. 

One of them was...start this blog!

That's right: me and my blog are just about to hit the double figures. You can read my very first post here, which is very unexciting (it doesn't include an image and is, uh, quite passive-aggressive). While my blog has changed direction a few times and I now have no desire to build a "Gala Darling empire" (oh god) me and my space on the internet have had shared some good times. We've been on weekend breaks for free, attended multiple events, reviewed hundreds of products, used it as a talking point in interviews, and met some incredible people who wouldn't have been on my radar otherwise, including people who would go on to become some of my closest friends. My blog's direction and purpose may have changed over the past decade but my love and thankfulness for it haven't.   

Also...I gave up eating meat! Happy 10-year veggie anniversary to me! 

Being vegetarian (and later vegan) was something I had considered since my teenage years but at the start of 2011 I finally followed through with the decision. This would then lead me to make further decisions about my consumption and carbon footprint - including cruelty-free make-up, reusable sanitary products, switching to a green energy supplier, and vegan household cleaning products. 

I know from the outside that deciding not to eat meat anymore and starting a blog hardly sounds transformative. For me, however, it was. These two decisions were me getting in touch with myself for the first time, thinking about what I really wanted, and ignoring other people' opinions (and I did get a lot of push back when I decided to go veggie). I'm a former people pleaser and stepping outside of my comfort zone in these two tiny little ways was the start of a much bigger journey. A journey that would see my life really change over the next decade.  

Sitting here now on the eve of 2021 and being able to really visualise how far I've come has been a moment, much like it was when I turned 30. I knew I had grown a lot since I was 20 in an extremely intentional way, but to have a full decade creep by has allowed me to visualise start and end markers. Plus, having had too much time to think over 2020 allowed forgotten memories to resurface and it made me realise, truly, just how far I had come. 

And that, in turn, made me realise what my main intention (the word I now use instead of resolutions) should be for 2021 and the first full year of my thirties. 

Which is, go easier on myself.

Once upon a time I really did need to work on growth and I'm really proud of my younger self for recognising that. But what wasn't so good is that some of it came from self-loathing which, hey, we all need motivation don't we? Even now I still work on developing my self in a way that is rooted in believing I'm not nice enough, or productive enough, or ethical enough. That I'm never good enough and need to be constantly improving. And maybe it's just time I lean into the idea that I'm not perfect, I will make mistakes, I won't be everyone's cup of tea, and there are people who love me regardless. I'm not a difficult or awful human being, and I know me at my worst is still a lot better than some people's best. I should give myself more credit. 

That night when I turned 30 emotion came over me as I realised, for the first time, how worthwhile working on myself for the bulk of my twenties had been. How stupidly happy I am now compared to my twentieth birthday and how I'm surrounded by excellent people who absolutely adore me, even if I'm not the perfect person I keep telling myself I need to be. These absolutely adorable people wouldn't love me if I still was the girl I was when I twenty. 

Self-development is now something that I will dip into now and then but it's no longer the necessity that it was in my early twenties and I want to re-direct my energy. I can chill now and the night I turned thirty helped me realise that. I don't anticipate any major changes in the next twelve months and I suppose that is a sign that I'm finally letting myself breath after a decade of Doing The Work. It's now time to enjoy the fruits of my labour. 

Like almost everyone else, 2020 knocked me. I'm not really sure what intentions I need to make when I've been stuck inside since March and I've not been living my normal life. I did however learn what I didn't miss about the outside world and what I really did. So there will be some shifting around once this vaccine makes its way around the world. 

To 2020, you won't be missed and to 2021 the year I can hopefully hug my pals again.

And I promise to never talk about 2010 again, maybe. x

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