Year Review: 2021

Here we are in the New Year. 2021 was promised to be a better year than 2020, and whilst I’m not sure that was entirely achieved, I still think it’s possible to find some positives that this past year has held. Whether those positives come from something personal or something global, something you achieved or something someone else has achieved, I think that’s how we all manage to get by. Yes, we are still living under the grasps of a pandemic and, yes, a lot of our lives and ambitions are still stuck on hold, there’s no denying that, but trying to find the positivity in all the negativity is how we reclaim time that was taken from us.

Looking back on my 2021, I graduated with a First-Class Honours, I won a short story competition, I built my first ever PC, and I started this blog. There are certainly negative aspects to this year that I could hinge my happiness on, but there was also a lot of good that redeems some of those more negative facets of this past year.

I said in my last post that I was going to try and take a break to keep healthy and fresh. I did still write a little, it’s very difficult to keep me away from a laptop or a notepad and pen, but I was forced to take some rest because I became incredibly unwell. It’s funny how things happen like that, isn’t it? My last day before my time off for Christmas, my health plummeted, and that happened for a few reasons, I think. I’ve been going out a little more, still being completely safe and and sensible with masks and washing my hands, but I’ve been exposing myself to other people, and because we’ve all been locked inside for so long, our immune systems haven’t been working very hard and even the slightest illness will wipe you out. (I also want to reassure everyone that I took tests and it wasn’t Covid, I think it was a cold that just destroyed me). I also think it happened because I’ve been working nonstop for so many months, and when you know you’re about to rest for a while, your body can just give in, and I totally felt my body doing that. I took a lot of medicine, rested, drank plenty of water. I didn’t recover as quickly as I would have liked, but I think my immune system needed to build itself back up again, and thankfully I had the time off for Christmas to be able to do that. Like I said in my last post, sometimes the only way I take breaks is if I’m forced to take one, and plummeting health is one way your body forces you to take a break.

But breaks are good and healthy. Alongside just letting yourself rest, they’re also good for perspective, for making you realise what’s really important, and when that break comes over this festive season, you’re often surrounded by loved ones, who are definitely an important part of life. We all place different values on different aspects of life; some of us value career, others wealth, others the material items placed beneath the tree, it’s different for everyone, but I think when we take this break at the end of the year, it’s important to acknowledge what we value and why we value it.

Other than the importance of family, I certainly noted the value of taking breaks themselves. Even though I’ve been unwell and I have napped more over Christmas than I have ever in my entire life, a break refreshes you, even if it is a break your body has forced you to take. Whenever I take a break, whether that’s a forced one or not, I usually jump back into where I left things all eager and renewed. I am someone who likes to persevere and commit, push through barriers, but getting a reminder of how fruitful some time off can be for your creativity is beneficial, even if that time off has been spent coughing and sneezing. I haven’t had a lot of time to think between all my sleeping, but I have been trying to reflect, looking ahead whilst also looking behind.

For a lot of people, this is where they come up with New Year’s resolutions and goals to achieve, but, sometimes, I think they set you up for failure. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with saying, because it’s a new year, I’m going to change this part of my life or I’m going to aim for something new, but sometimes you put too much weight on it and it’s going to buckle. Whilst we should probably have a healthier relationship with failure, I just think maybe we shouldn’t put too much pressure on ourselves just because a particular date is upcoming.

So, I’m not going to set myself any New Year’s resolutions. I certainly have goals I want to achieve, but there’s also so much constant pressure to perfect yourself, to present yourself as the perfect version of who you are and always be working towards attaining who you want to be, and that’s exhausting. Sure, there are always ways to become a better version of yourself, and I certainly have goals of attaining authorship that I’ll be working towards until I achieve it, but for the moment, I’d rather just be proud of what I’ve achieved so far rather than constantly remind myself of things I have yet to achieve. 2021 was a positive year for me because of graduating, because of the work I’ve been putting into my writing, because I submitted a piece to a competition and I won. I’d much rather look back and be proud of the things I’ve accomplished rather than look at all those things and demand that I do even better next year. There may come times during the year where I am actively trying to achieve something concrete, but I’m just not sure I agree with the idea of setting yourself a set of goals because you need to make sure you’re always making progress purely because it’s January 1st. Let yourself simmer, exist, it’ll be okay, I promise.

Although not a New Year’s resolution, I am going to be making a change for 2022, and that regards how many posts I’m going to be doing a month. There’s a few reasons for this; the first is that, later this year, I’m planning on travelling. It will be an interesting challenge trying to keep up with this blog whilst juggling other parts of my life, but setting realistic goals is incredibly important. As I travel, I don’t know how much time I’m going to have or how much access I’ll have to my laptop or this website. I’m going to actively try because this blog has taught me a lot about writing already, but I refuse to make promises I know I won’t be able to keep.

What I’m planning on doing is guaranteeing one post every month, on the first, but no longer having a second post on the fifteenth. This is also because I feel a little spread out. If you follow this blog, you know that I have Project #1, Project #2, Project #3, and this blog. They are all in different stages of editing and writing, and I’m dedicating different amounts of time to each one. I love this blog, it’s a great way of changing up how I write, it keeps me moving from one thing to the other because being stagnant smothers my creativity. I like updating this blog, but I like writing novels at the same time, and I still need to measure up the balance between them, that’s one thing this past year has definitely taught me.

In terms of writing, I had some real successes this year. Not only did I finally acknowledge that this was definitely the career that I want in the long-term, but I won a short story competition and I started this blog. Those are the two, more public aspects of how I’ve been able to further my authorship, but I also completed the first drafts of Project #1 and Project #3. As I will be travelling next year, I’m not sure how much work I will be able to put into my manuscripts. I might be able to work on them every single weekend, or I might not start working on them again until I return home later this year. I often measure my life in concretes, I like to know set dates and set plans, but 2022 is going to be a real test of that, and I really don’t know exactly what I’ll be up to in terms of writing.

This past year has been great and taught me a few things about balances, but there’s still more to learn. In easing up the pressures I put on myself as I explore the world and gain experiences that the pandemic very nearly snatched away from me like it has snatched so much from so many others, I will be able to continue with this regularity whilst also affording myself some more freedoms. This upcoming year has a lot of uncertainties, and planning where I can in terms of what each month will contain helps alleviate some pressure because, ultimately, this still has to be enjoyable. Things change, I might decide something different in a few months, but I like where we’ve been, I like where we’re heading, and let’s see what 2022 holds.

Happy New Year,

Robyn x

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