Celebrating my birthday before the world closed
Another year gone, means another Year in Review blog post! This is without a doubt always my most thoughtful post of the year and the one that requires the most of my time to write. Even before I was reviewing my year on my blog, I was reviewing my year personally in my childhood diaries. I have sat down and had a think about my resolutions and what I want to achieve in the new year – it’s not so much a “new me”, or even putting pressure on myself, but more so a time for gratitude and hopefulness for the year ahead.
2020 has been a really strange one – something I’m sure we can all agree on. A year for the history books, no doubt. The only part of my year that went to plan was my 25th birthday which I (being me) planned for months in advance – and even that was a little bit impacted by the biggest topic of the year… COVID. Given what a generally devastating year this has been, I recognise that I am truly blessed to be coming out the other side with only minor scratches if even anything. COVID has definitely gotten me to “slow down and smell the roses” – before the pandemic I was travelling abroad every few weeks for work, I was waking up at 6am to go to the gym then proceeding to work 10/11/12 hour days, I was travelling all over London during the weekends sometimes, up and down between my place, my boyfriend’s place and my parents’ place, planning my next weekend break and planning for what was meant to be a phenomenal summer abroad… very quickly, COVID stopped me in my tracks, and for a while, slowed down time. The pandemic has gotten me to appreciate what I have, and I don’t think I have ever truly recognised how blessed I am in my life than in 2020.
So – taking it from the top. Here’s how my 2020 went…
Navigating this post
- How the year started: the good, the bad, the ugly and lockdown
- Going virtual
- Black Lives Matter
- 2020 wins
- Revisiting my 2020 resolutions
- My 2021 resolutions
- Rounding up
How the year started: the good, the bad, the ugly and lockdown
I started the year on somewhat of a high note as a lot of us usually do as we hope to kick off the best year of our lives. My first trip of the year was to Méribel in France to go skiing at the end of January (it turned out to be my only “holiday” of the year), and then soon after in February I actually had my best ever day at work as I won my first deal (i.e. a deal that I would say was mostly down to my efforts – although of course 1 team 1 dream). Things were going well. However, things came crashing down really quickly. I got some disappointing news in February and it really plunged me into quite a sad and angry place for a little while, it was the first thing on my mind when I woke up, I’d spend hours and hours discussing the topic with my flatmate at the time, and it had me feeling like I was fighting everyone around me. The good thing is that it got me to put my foot down in a few different situations and really embody the quote don’t let anybody tek you fi eediat. It also eventually had me stepping out of my comfort zone and plotting what were meant to be plans for the year ahead (which didn’t end up coming to fruition due to rona).
In March – I turned 25! Now, I’m not someone who really cares about birthdays and I don’t tend to do any big celebrations my birthday either, but whenever I have what I consider to be a “monumental” birthday, I force myself to celebrate on the premise of why not? When I turned 16 – I (I being my parents) paid for myself and my closest friends to go and see Thriller Live in the West End, at 18 I had a joint birthday party in a bar, 21 another joint birthday party in a bar, and this time I took my close friends and family to a club and got us all a table with some bottles! It was probably the best birthday I’ve ever celebrated, and my favourite night out of the year; I also knew it was likely going to be my last proper night out in a long time because rearing its head around the corner was…
COVID. When I first heard about COVID in January, I figured it was going to be something like the swine flu pandemic a few years back – one of those flus that comes about every few years, everyone is talking about it, and then suddenly it drops off the radar. Even when it was revealed in late February that Italy had something like >100 cases, I still thought everything was going to soon subside. How wrong I was… Things got I was never personally scared of what COVID would do to me – I’m young and work out frequently. But I worried more for those around me, my parents in particular, so it was in early March that I made the decision that I was not to go to see my parents anymore whilst there was so much uncertainty. By the end of the month – the government had put the UK into a nationwide lockdown.
I left work to start my annual leave on Wednesday, March 10th after telling my boss that I still felt comfortable coming into the office despite COVID now gracing more headlines in the UK. A day or two later (during my annual leave) I was told that I was in the first batch of employees that would be “working from home” for 2 weeks. I never returned to the office again in 2020.
Levi and I spent the first few days of working from home at my place (he was also on his work’s first batch of WFH employees), then to even things out we packed up and mid week went over to his. I was wary that a lockdown could be called whilst I was there, so I packed a huge suitcase, my dumbbells and even my desktop monitor as I went. As expected, lockdown was called that weekend and then for the next few months or so there were four of us living up in a 2 bed apartment up in East London – Levi, his flatmate, and his flatmate’s then fiancé. I remember when I’d tell people I was spending lockdown with three other people in a 2 bed they’d always seem horrified about how claustrophobic it all sounded. I personally didn’t even really take in how claustrophobic it was until I moved to my new apartment in July and realised how good the extra space felt. Whilst there were some very tough times during lockdown (it was not a totally smooth ride by any chance), for the most part, the four of us definitely made some lifetime memories. We’d have “family” dinners every evening, and we’d hang out on the weekend drinking, playing games and staying up until ungodly hours. It was actually quite fun for a little while.
Once the first lockdown was finishing up, summer was in full blast and the world was opening up; people started to feel comfortable going out to the park to hang out, a few missed restaurants started to open up their takeaway services again, and I moved out of my old flat of 4 years and into an amazing apartment where I’ve lived now for 5 months.
Attempting a staycation at the Ned
Views from our new place
As everything moved online, and as we all became familiar with Zoom, I found myself doing a few virtual panels this year. I did a panel on succeeding in a virtual internship with the Women’s Societies Alliance, a Black Women in Finance panel around starting your career, a Women in Banking and Finance panel which was focussed on my experiences in the world of Finance as a black woman, and finally a solo fireside chat with the UCL Fintech society focussed again around banking and my career journey so far – more info and videos of these talks here. I am always open to sharing my honest perspectives and helping others – so it was fun to be able to do this, even as everyone joined from different locations!
Online, I continued to focus on my blog, but to be honest, I struggled to stay consistent with weekly posts. What was meant to be weekly posts turned out to be more bi-weekly posts for most of the year. This is something I want to improve next year (see my resolutions below), but I’m happy to at least say that I really do put a lot of time and effort into what I post here which does mean that this year I have written up some of my favourite posts I’ve ever written.
On social media, I focussed more on my fitness page this year. Growth was a bit lack lustre for a lot of the year as I tried to find my new groove and produce high quality content from home, but I feel like I reached a good place towards the end of the year and now I’m quite happy with how that page is looking and the content on it. As I write this we are just shy of 4.1k followers which is great!
Working out this year was almost entirely done at home
Black Lives Matter
I can’t write a Year End post without touching on the BLM movement this year. I wrote a whole post on it whilst things were happening, but as I stated there, black lives have mattered and police brutality is new. Watching videos of black people getting killed by the police go viral is unfortunately something we are all too used to, but for some reason this year, the uproar was a lot more pronounced than I’ve ever personally seen it be in the past. A lot of this was certainly performative (eye roll), but there have been some good things to come out of the movement, be it just raising awareness or be it something like the birth of Black Pound Day – where we invest more back into our community.
Little wins to celebrate over the year…
- Me, my hair and lockdown – I’ve always loved my hair, but I’ve been very lazy with it. I just let my hairdresser handle absolutely everything and I’ve mostly kept it locked up. Of course with lockdown happening I’ve had to rely on myself rather than my hairdresser. However, I’ve put a lot of TLC into my hair this year and its feeling the healthiest it has in a long time. I also let it breath now and take it out more often rather than having to have it always locked up in one style or another which has felt good
- Money management – I wrote in my last post about the few avenues I’ve invested in the past (property, cryptocurrencies), but it’s often been with the involvement and push of others. This year I wanted to invest completely independently. Knowing to put money in an index/stocks and shares ISA after the market has crashed is certainly not ground breaking, but hey, doing so, and continuing to do so more out of habit is still something to celebrate. Also – I’ve been able to give more to those around me this year too, which feels good too
- Growing in myself – In terms of how I feel about myself, my life, and the people in my life – I am in the best place I’ve ever been. I’m the most confident I’ve ever been in many aspects. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I don’t keep pushing for more out of life, but if you ask me if I’m happy right now, I can honestly say yes
- Starting (another) new project – I’m working on something that I’m excited about it 🙂 More importantly, I’m enjoying working on it, and I can’t always say that’s been the case for a few of the other ideas I’ve had in the past (some things have started, stopped and evolved, but Skylish and my fitness page have managed to keep going strong)
- Learning Yoruba – I started learning Yoruba this year – taught by my lovely friend Blessing. It’s an extremely hard language and I should probably practice more, but it’s also good to understand more of what my mum and dad are talking about around the house…
Revisiting my 2020 resolutions
1. Put a lid on my irritation – I get heated really quickly (I calm down just as quickly too). Basically – I want to learn to breath though the bullshit better – I think I actually achieved this one?! I used to go from zero to 100 and whilst internally I still do sometimes, externally I am better able to hold it in if something annoys me
2. Start using my weekends more productively again – I actually have had quite a productive year for the most part, but this is without being too extreme (i.e. “productivity” meaning I get only 4 hours of sleep when I have work the next day), I’ve found a nice balance with this (helped by the fact that we’re all mostly at home these days)
3. Continue to pay down my student loan significantly but also put some money somewhere where it can be managed to make a return – I have a little smidge of my student loan left (well, compared to where I started). I also finally started to invest in traditional stocks & shares ISAs this year across some diversified industries
4. Get back to more frequent blogging – Let’s carry this one over to 2021… heh
5. Again, stop waiting for opportunities, put in the work to grab opportunities more frequently – This one is mixed, I feel as though I got a lot of opportunities this year, some of them through “grabbing”, and some just happening to come to me
My 2021 resolutions
1. Blog more consistently (!); put a lot more focus in general into Skylish.co.uk, and continue to work on growing my fitness page
2. Launch the project I’ve been working on
3. Continue to work to be smarter with money – (i) pay off the rest of my student loan, (ii) continue to put money away into funds periodically and (iii) potentially make a bigger investment…
4. Make another leap in terms of confidence
5. Excel with my career choices
6. Get to the best level of fitness I’ve ever been at (if gyms are open for more than half of the year anyway…)
2020 has been such a train wreck for the world that we can only hope for better in 2021, and I do feel very positive about the year ahead. But I’m a glass half full kind of girl. Excited for what might be to come and wishing you all a great 2021!