Making Sense of 2021

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Building a narrative over a full year is usually tough. I often forget most of what I did towards the beginning of the year.

This year is particularly troublesome, as post-March 2020 and 2021 melded together as one relentless monotony. Pre-pandemic life feels a distant memory, with our changes to lifestyle and work now feeling like no other alternative ever existed.

Although this piece is around reflection towards the end of 2021, I wonder how beneficial it is to reflect purely based upon the end of a 365-day cycle. Much like New Years Eve, it feels an arbitrary date which has little relation to how our lives really play out. Is the end of a year really an end?

Still, I find benefit in having a yearly cue. Without it, I would simply forget to do so, and put my attention in the next banal task after another. Heaven knows we don’t take enough time to understand ourselves. So if it helps prompt introspection, this yearly tradition serves its purpose.

2021 was an odd year. I achieved many of my goals, yet did not feel particularly happy. I find myself confronting a myth I have created for myself – that if I achieved all my goals – this would lead me to fulfillment. As far as my checklist goes, I completed numerous qualifications, moved country, changed jobs and built this newsletter. I also recently started a podcast. No doubt many other things too.

If I marked my year in terms of achievement it would be pretty high. I ticked many boxes and have lots of nice pieces of paper saying I was more qualified than I was 2020. Why then am I not delighted with this year?

Well, a worldwide pandemic does not help. Basic actions have an undercurrent of self-doubt on whether the risk was worth it. Stressful activities like moving house became even more so with a few quarantine periods thrown in too.

But even without a worldwide pandemic, I think this would have been a year of change for me. Change is rarely comfortable. Dust needs to settle, and sometimes that takes longer than a calendar year.

At the end of 2019 I was unhappy and wanted things to change. My life was centred around work, and I found little other purpose in my existence. As it evolved, 2020 became a year where I started to open my mind. This came through developing myself, and finding new pursuits such as yoga. 2021 was putting many seismic changes in place. Changing location and job also meant a change in identity. I am no longer a Londoner, nor working in Government. Instead, I am a foreigner working on sustainability issues. Roots of a tree need time to grow.

I leave 2021 with a sense of hope. I hope that making changes this year will benefit my future. Looking into 2022, I am optimistic I can find that greater fulfillment I’m looking for.

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