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How would you sum up 2020?

What’s your word for 2020? How would you sum up the year?

‘Unprecedented’, ‘the new normal ‘, ‘the curve’, ‘zoom-bombing’ ,‘pivot’ words that became part of the English language in 2020. As a modern language graduate, I find language and words fascinating! If the most overused word was ‘Unprecedented’ and we would all be millionaires for the number of times the phrase ‘the new normal’ was used, my favourite was a term my friend used to describe 2020 ‘an Orwellian nightmare’.

I was in my local park with my 5-year old nephew on 23rd March 2020 watching the squirrels when a warden went round with a loud speaker telling us we had to leave. I will never forget how afraid I was and trying not to show it. There was so much fear in the media at that time that I honestly thought the whole population of Northern Ireland was going to be wiped out by the end of that month! After the RHI scandal in Northern Ireland I had little respect for our politicians but I don’t think I can ever forgive them or the media for the widespread fear campaign that has been spread since March.

Never did I imagine that now 9 months later in Northern Ireland our death rate would only be fractionally higher than that recorded in 2019 (statistics published by NISRA- the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency) but that we would have a 8pm curfew,  ‘non-essential’ shops (define essential…) are not allowed to be opened and we are told when and where we are allowed to meet our families.

Nothing was ‘normal’ in 2020. We were forced out of our comfort zones; we were forced to reassess what was truly important to us in our lives and for some of us came the great awakening that nothing is as it seems, and we must question everything and that was painful.

I saw a brilliant advertisement for an optician at the start of the year asking, ‘do you want to have 2020 vision’. And besides the fact that I had to get reading glasses in December (a consequence no doubt of the constant video conference calls from March onwards!), I realised that the 3 most important things to me in this world are:

  1. social contact with my immediate family
  2. friendships
  3. freedom of movement/speech/thought

I’ve been on rants that William Wallace himself would be proud of this year about freedom with a big ‘F’ so I won’t go into that again but I’m writing this blog as a memoir as much for me to have to remember what I’ve learnt in 2020.

It was a year in which many of us reinvented ourselves and despite the lock down restrictions and the constant uncertainty of being self-employed, bizarrely 2020 was one of the best years of my life!

Highlights of this year:

I didn’t write a book or a play or a musical (that might have to wait to 2021😊) but I did achieve the following:
🏆 I won Virtual Assistant of the Year for Northern Ireland 2020 as judged by the UK VA Awards Body

🏆I was selected as 1/100 business owners for the Small Business Saturday UK campaign celebrating inspirational businesses around the UK  #Smallbiz100

🏆  I helped 11 new clients (besides my regular clients) who were all self-employed business owners work more efficiently and create online offerings

🏆I raised £900 for the charity PIPS in Northern Ireland (Public Initiative for Prevention of Suicide and Self Harm) by doing my 12 peaks in 12 weeks mountain climbing challenge

🏆I was the lightest and fittest Id even been by July of this year due to the above and the fact I went off alcohol and milk chocolate during lockdown 1.0

🏆  I discovered at last my own self-worth can you believe when I started out, I was only charging £15 a hour!

🏆  I built healthier relationships and am now in a healthy happy romantic relationship for the first time in around 10 years with a man who is kind, intelligent, easy going and loves being outdoors and in nature as much as me!

Lower lights of this year, or were they?

Every cloud has a silver lining doesn’t it and that fact that lock down restrictions meant we couldn’t do lots of things we normally did forced us to be more inventive. When my father died, and the minister came to talk to us about what we wanted mentioned at this funeral we said you have to include his love of inventing things all around the farm. I don’t think that was some love of engineering but was borne out of necessity as after all ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’

  • I couldn’t’ get away travelling but that meant I explored my own corner of the world and now can navigate my way around the Mourne Mountains pretty well!
  • I couldn’t go to parks or theme places with my nephews but that meant we explored nature in the fields around us and had to amuse ourselves with our own imagination
  • I couldn’t get to the library, so I read books I hadn’t got round to and borrowed from bookshelves of others
  • I couldn’t physically see friends or loved ones for a while but that just meant we had to get inventive with Facebook video calls, 3-way WhatsApp calls and Zoom calls (other video conferencing tools available lol)
  • I couldn’t get to lots of real things so I tried everything virtual going -Pilates via YouTube, gardening talks via Zoom, online learning via  Facebook groups and MemberVault and even virtual reflexology over WhatsApp!!

Would you erase 2020 if you could?
If someone came to you now and asked could you erase 2020 like some surreal clip of ‘The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’  (spoiler alert if you haven’t seen the film)-it’s about an estranged couple who want all their memories of their relationship erased. Would you want that? or has all the learning and resilience building , soul searching and reinventing you have done mean that you can never go back to the 2019 version of yourself?

I can’t. George Orwell wont let me. For after all it was his character in the novel 1984 who says” Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

What word would I use to sum up the year? A rollercoaster ! But roller coasters can be as exhausting as exhilarating and I think we can all agree its time to get off this one!

Winner of the Northern Ireland Virtual Assistant (VA) of the Year 2020 by the UK VA Awards Body

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