I’ve got into the habit of writing ‘end of year’ round-up blog posts and I do really enjoy writing them. They’re like a time capsule where I can look back and mock Past-Rebecca for her optimism and naivety.
The Past-Rebecca that existed in December 2019 was so cute. With her travel plans and whatnot. Adorable! You can read about what she thought her 2020 was going to be like if you need a good laugh. It’s hilarious.
I know the last thing we need right now is a bunch of people online subtly bragging about how much they accomplished in 2020. Mate, we’re still going at the end of the year with no definitive end to the Covid-19 pandemic and its many restrictions in our sights. We’re still in the eye of a sh*tstorm. That’s all you need to have accomplished in 2020! So I’m not quite doing that.
But I do really want to express my gratitude for the moments of joy I found in 2020 and the people that helped me experience them. And, if you’ll allow me, I do have some small accomplishments that I’m also grateful I was able to do this year. Because even if you don’t think you have anything to be proud of this year, I guarantee that YOU DO.
And as for any predictions or big plans for 2021? Lol. Do I have “mug” written on my forehead or something?
No, no big plans for 2021. But I’m still stubbornly optimistic. I might be six months away from getting the Covid vaccine and Brexit is fully happening and the borders are still shut but I WILL be optimistic, Goddammit. I may mock Past-Rebecca for her optimism but I’m also quietly proud of her for it.
1. Spending 125 Nights Away in Scotland
I’ve been living back at my parent’s house since June 2017. Isn’t it wild that in those 3 and a half years I’ve been back, this year holds the record for the longest time I’ve spent away from home?!
I’d never judge anyone for travelling when their Government allowed them to do it. Partly because that’s exactly what I did. Whether or not our lockdown ended too soon is another matter, but I’m just so bloody grateful that I travelled and lived in Scotland when I could. If you can’t tell, I chuffing love Scotland.
And I spent 125 nights there, to be exact. 30 nights in Glasgow and the Isle of Skye in February/March, eight nights in Fort William and Edinburgh in August and then 87 nights in Edinburgh from August-November. Crazy, huh?
The pandemic didn’t affect attending Glasgow Film Festival, nor heading up to the Isle of Skye for my workaway exchange. Though it did affect how long I could stay there for as I had to haul ass back to Cumbria ASAP…
I was so incredibly fortunate to be able to visit all of the Harry Potter filming locations in Scotland and ride the Jacobite Steam train in summer. Jeez, looking back now we were such jammy b*stards. And I’m so pleased I decided to volunteer again for a workaway exchange in Edinburgh when I did.
I do plan on travelling again as soon as it’s safe and legal. I’m almost 28 and still want to apply for a working holiday visa somewhere. And you just never know when opportunities are going to be snatched away again. The same goes for hair appointments. Take them whenever you can.
2. Making New (And Keeping Old) Friendships
Though I only ventured north of the border, I feel incredibly grateful for the new friends I made this year. I didn’t really want to leave our tiny island this year (or Brexit/Plague Island), even if I did have a small window of opportunity. The financial and health risks (not to mention getting stuck somewhere) were personally too great for me.
But I made great new friends in Edinburgh who I plan on re-visiting as soon as the pubs reopen, and also Denmark and Texas. Since I will probably be a solo traveller for the foreseeable, visiting new places to meet friends makes it a much less lonely experience.
Meeting other people from around the world still made me feel like I was having faraway adventures, which is awesome. And I feel so lucky to have had my friends back home too, only a phone call or zoom catch up away.
3. My Forever-Supportive Family (but especially the cutest member)
I’ve already mentioned that my parents have had to put up with me being a boomerang child (I lived away for six years then came back! Supposedly for just three months! Again: Past-Rebecca was so cute) for a few years now. Though they might’ve got rid of me for one-third of 2020, they’ve still had to deal with me almost 24/7 the other eight months.
And I’m so grateful they’re happy to have me. Yes, I’m going to be 28 in a few short months but I have no real plans to officially ‘move out.’ I hope to stay away for much longer stints in the future, of course. But it gives me an immeasurable sense of security knowing I have a home to return to and I’m incredibly privileged for that. Especially this year.
Because my sister is a teacher and my mum cares for my nephew part-time, he’s part of our childcare bubble. So, for non-UK folk, that means I’ve been able to see my one-year-old nephew a heck of a lot more than most aunties and uncles this year. And I’m incredibly grateful. He’s the weirdest, happiest little boy and just a joy to be around.
4. Coming Out As Bisexual And Queer
This might be a weird point to ‘feel grateful’ for, but I’m incredibly grateful that it’s out and done.
Coming out was just as awkward and uncomfortable as I always feared, hence why it took me so long to do it. You’re not emerging from a cocoon as a butterfly so much as you’re dropping your towel and exposing your naked ass at the beach in front of hundreds of onlookers.
I did not want to do it. It feels so wrong to bring attention to that private part of my life. Saying “I’m bi” is a very scaled-down and polite way of saying “Hey, you know I sleep with men? Well, I sleep with women too! Enjoy that imagery, good day to you!” Urgh. Hell. Just throw me in quicksand and let the ground absorb me and my embarrassment.
But seriously, I’m so happy it’s out there and I’m grateful that I never have to go through that again. After this blog post, I’ll probably only ever mention it when relevant/in passing. I’m incredibly grateful to have supportive family and friends and for it to not be a big deal. Though I do understand the importance of queer visibility, hence why I did a “coming out” Instagram post and still occasionally talk about it.
5. Selling, Recycling, Scanning & Throwing Out So. Much. Sh*t.
Speaking of emptying closets… I work at a desk in my bedroom, so I spend around 95% of my time there. I’m also a minimalist, so overflowing cupboards and superfluous “stuff” gives me hella anxiety.
Almost every weekend this summer, I sat and scanned my University and college files, notebooks and letters and recycled almost all of it. I halved my DVD collection, culled books I knew I’d never read again and sold a lot on Music Magpie. I still have tonnes of boxes on top of my wardrobe of things I want to either sell or donate, but overall I feel amazing.
A lot of people took the opportunity to work on home improvements over the spring/summer lockdown so I guess this was my mini-version of that. It did me so much good and though I do not love the reason, I’m grateful I had the time to cull so much junk and get myself properly organised.
My to-do list has literally never been shorter. I feel like I have more room in my brain for bigger picture goals, rather than being cluttered with thoughts like “wash out my tent” or “clear inbox.” Now, it says things like “sort out a retirement plan” and “learn to use my new camera.”
6. Falling In Love With Reading (about bloody time)
I’m a writer! I write thousands of words every single day! For work and pleasure! So why on earth am I not an avid reader?!
I don’t know if it’s because my sister was always the bookworm when we were kids (she can still read hundreds of pages every day which seems impossible, I’m calling witchcraft) or simply because I couldn’t get my brain to relax long enough, but I’ve always been an awful reader. I’ve read ten books in total over the past two years.
I liked reading, but I guess I’ve always loved watching films more.
This year, I set myself a goal of two books per month. I knew if I didn’t put a plan in place this goal would fade into a pipedream. So, at the start of every month, I chose my two books and planned out how many pages to read per day. For some, this would take the fun out of reading. But to me it made sense. You achieve goals by creating a realistic plan, right?
And it worked! I read 28 decent-sized books along with a few play scripts and coffee-table books. Granted, it cut into my movie-watching time drastically, but we only have 24 hours in a day. Something had to give. And I’m okay with it being movies for a year, maybe two.
My reading goal for 2021 is to read 36 books, so clearly I’ve fallen head over heels in love with reading! Finally. It’s just a shame it took a lockdown to give me the mental space to do so but I’m really grateful it did.
7. Not Being (too) Broke
It seems like 2020 has made the rich even richer and the poor even poorer. I could rant about the support (or lack of) the UK Government gave small businesses and everyday working people in 2020 but it would be long-winded and depressing.
I’ll try and keep things upbeat! Despite losing a consistent blogging job for another travel blogger in March after only four months, and being very unemployed for most of the year, I’m thankful the Government gave me some assistance in the form of the self-employment grant. I’m so grateful I could stay at home, and I’m incredibly grateful at the start of December I bagged an amazing freelance writing job.
It’s sincerely one of the best opportunities I’ve been given in my entire life. It’s the main reason I’m stubbornly optimistic about the future. And because it’s a remote job, it won’t stop me pursuing my travel dreams! It will only help. You know, if that can even happen in 2021…
8. Not Giving Up On My Dreams (even though I probably should)
I’ve been talking about making a full-time living from this blog since, erm, December 2017. Despite seeing amazing growth in 2018, it was swiftly followed by a nosedive in 2019 which this little blog never really recovered from.
Like most travel bloggers and anyone else in the travel industries, 2020 ain’t been the most lucrative of years.
But I did try. I deleted over HALF of my blog posts (I only have around 240 posts published right now), wrote 40 new posts, joined and left an Ad network and completed Superstar Blogging’s Travel Writing course and Make Traffic Happen’s SEO courses.
I planned to just throw everything at this blog in 2021: repurpose all my old content, create tonnes of new posts and hope to boost my traffic enough to meet Mediavine’s new thresholds so I could earn some decent money advertising. And I’m still planning on writing a tonne of new posts in 2021 (so watch out for them!), but I’m being slightly more realistic.
To be honest, I’m incredibly grateful to have found another job so the pressure is off Almost Ginger to provide me with a full-time income. That’s the long-winded way of saying though it will take longer than I’d like, I still have big dreams for Almost Ginger. I just have lots of other dreams (that require money) too.
9. Surviving & Mildly Thriving
For a lot of people, this has been the worst year of their lives. Collectively for my generation, it’s been our worst year on record. That’s not up for debate at this point, it’s a fact.
But is anyone else just like… “Personally, this was not even my worst year lol.”
There is so much I don’t recall about 2015 because I was so deeply unhappy and depressed, which apparently can happen when you’re depressed. You just numb yourself to everything and literally forget huge chunks of time. I vividly remember tears streaming down my face at the opening of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015) in the middle of a sold-out cinema (the “scroll call” as Jess and Lindsay from French Toast Sunday call it which I LOVE) and it was the first time I really felt something in months. The power of cinema, eh?
Fast forward to 2020 and I’m desperately (and stubbornly) turning lemons into lemonade. Though, I can completely understand why that’s just not possible for some people. If this pandemic happened in 2015 (or even 2016 or 2017!) I’d also be watching Netflix in my jammies with unwashed hair 24/7.
Heck, I’m still doing that a lot of the time now! Usually with beer and a scented candle burning to really set the mood.
And I have my down moments, of course, I do. But mostly, I thank the universe for the strength to focus on what I can do rather than what I can’t. What a f*cking privileged position to be in.
“If you were happy every day of your life you wouldn’t be a human being. You’d be a game-show host.” – Heathers (1989)
Okay, so I have mentioned some goals for 2021 when I said I wouldn’t plan anything. I hope to read 36 books and clear all the sh*t on top of my wardrobe by Christmas 2021. Oh, and I also have some savings goals. That’s enough to be getting on with for now.
I’m going to leave you the exact same way I finished my 2019 round-up blog post:
Really, even if 2020 isn’t the year I think it’s going to be, I’d at least want to still be this content about life in exactly one year’s time. I hope to still be meeting amazing, friendly people both in real life and online. I’ve never had so many friends before since starting this blog and that makes me more contented than travel and films.
I might lovingly mock Past-Rebecca but gosh, she was astute.
Congratulations on making it to December 2020! I’m very proud of you, boo. Praying for a better 2021 for everyone. Inject that vaccine into my eyeballs, Boris. Onward to glory!