I lay on my sofa, in the normal position for writing my blog posts. The candles are lit, I have a blanket wrapped around legs and a hot ribena waiting for me. My flat still looks the same as it did pre Covid. I probably look the same as I did pre Covid (slightly lighter hair and a more haggard face). Yet I feel totally different. Like most big events that happen to you in life, you are changed as a result. High school, university, first full time job, your first love. They all change you. And this year and everything it has consisted of has brought about change.
I am another year older. 3 years from a new decade. I always do a lot of reflecting around my birthday and as it’s near the new year, reflection is inevitable really.
I am in shock about how fast this year has gone. And what a year it’s been. Celebrating the new year of 2020 honestly seems like 2 weeks ago! Yet so much has happened since then, enough you could fit into a lifetime.
I have learned a lot about myself this year. I realise I don’t have my shit together as much as I think I do but this year has taught me that that is okay. I have become more accepting of my flaws; those personalities traits that I realise are not everyone’s cup of tea but I understand that that is okay. I also have realised that I am becoming more of the person I want to be, but also this may not be what other people necessarily understand but this is okay. I am more accepting of myself in general. I realise I am flawed like everyone else.
I am more in tune with myself. I know what is important to me and what I want out of life. I am working towards my dreams and understand they will be reality.
A big change this year has been this blog. This blog and writing these posts has really helped me. It’s changed me in someway. I have matured and care much less about the opinions of others. However it has been so lovely hearing that my written thoughts are relatable. Knowing people actually want to read posts of mine and find something enjoyable about it, is really warming.
It has brought me out of myself in a way. It’s given me confidence that I really didn’t know I had in me. I am proud of myself for getting over the fear.
Obviously the coronavirus happened and is still happening worldwide. Personally I haven’t been directly effected by the virus. I am so thankful for this and my heart goes out to people and families impacted. I haven’t been furloughed or let go of my job. I have been working all the way through. I work in an NHS hospital making cancer treatments. So I am classed as ‘key worker.’ Hate that phrase to be honest. It’s like we’ve all been put on a pedestal. But yes that part of my job has changed I guess. At the beginning of the pandemic when it had really hit the U.K, NHS workers were getting praise, and I felt (still feel) proud. But I did notice pretty soon after the first lockdown had ended more or less, that some people just didn’t seem bothered anymore.
A colleague of mine had a slice of cake and a note left on her car by the lady that lived in the house opposite where she parked. The lady had gathered she worked for the hospital as her car was parked close by. The note said thank you for all that she does for the NHS. This was in March. By August, when the cases in the U.K. had died down a bit, I parked up for work and noticed that the car in front of mine had a note on its windscreen. Being the nosey person I am, I read it. It said ‘next time you decide to park on this road, have some consideration for people walking on the path, it’s not hard.’ The writer of this note had decided that the car had left little room for people walking on the path and decided that writing a note would in some way be a noble thing to do for all fellow walkers of the path. Now did the writer know the driver of the car? I doubt it. Did they know they worked at the hospital? More than likely as the road is frequently used for hospital staff as the car park is not free. Is this something someone would like to see after a busy day at work? No. Could the driver have been an Intensive Care nurse that had just said goodbye to a patient they had been caring for for weeks as they had passed away due to this awful virus? Potentially. Could the driver be on call and they had to rush into work as there was an emergency and the last thing they had on their mind was parking two inches to the right? Potentially. Could the driver have been a member of the catering team that had just finished a 10 hour shift and had no thanks all day? Potentially. Would this note have made this person feel better about themselves? No.
Don’t get me wrong, I get annoyed with peoples parking sometimes or how people drive or whatever it is, but when it comes down to it, we just need to have empathy. Regardless of your job, key worker or furloughed, this year must have taught us something. We can’t possibly just carry on as we were. You never know what people are going through. You never know if your snotty note you left on someone’s car could have ended their day in a really shitty way. I hope people don’t just go back to their old ways and not realise that we all going through this. We are struggling, healing and just trying to get by.
This year has given me a kick up the arse. It’s made me realise I am still learning and my education is by no means done.
The very public murder of George Floyd in May this year, and everything that followed made me realise I knew very little about systemic racism, about white privilege and being anti-racist. I’m ashamed that it took this to happen for me to realise it is my responsibility to educate myself. To want to learn more. I am by no means an expert on racial issues but I want to be an ally. I’ve realised that acknowledgement of white privilege is key to eradicating it. To understand where it comes from and why it’s role is so prevalent to systematic racism. To understand what it actually means to be privileged because of the colour of your skin. To understand that what is taught in schools is not the full picture. To realise that I see myself all the time; in television, children’s books, adverts, cinema, everywhere. I am so over-represented. To know this isn’t the case for anyone else that isn’t white. To realise I have no idea what it must feel like for the leader of my country to not see me as a person. To realise I will never know what it must feel like to be stopped by the police and fear for my life. To know I am more likely to get a job because I have a white sounding name. I have also realised that white guilt is not productive. It does not serve purpose. It is wasting time. Feeling sorry and guilty for being white, will not get you anywhere. It’s the actions that are taken that are important.
I understand that I will never understand.
I almost feel like I’ve been wearing dirty or misted up glasses. And this year the mist is starting to vanish. I am able to see what is important to me and what really isn’t. Materialistic items that I once cared so strongly about are just things now. The value of relationships I have with people close to me has been intensified. I care more about the happiness and health of others much more than I ever have.
When faced with a pandemic that has affected everyone, and made people stay away from family and friends, it’s actually brought people closer.