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As 2021 draws to a close it’s now a year since I wrote my first one of these articles. Sat in my room last December wondering what the new year would bring feels like an unbelievably long and short time ago simultaneously, and my June review feels as if it could have been this morning.
The theme of part one, released in the February issue, was bittersweet to say the least. Still shrouded in restrictions and lockdown it felt like there was no end in sight. As a usually fairly negative person it was surprising looking back that I managed to be upbeat about the whole thing; deciding to head into 2021 with a forced smile and the realisation that the only way is up.
The June review was riddled with uncertainty. Although describing something outside of 2020 as a ‘strange time’ feels like an overstatement, the crossover from Spring to Summer certainly wasn’t ‘normal’. With the goalposts constantly moving and promises of freedom being ever delayed it was so difficult to know where to be. Whilst a return to the office for myself had reinstated some stability in my day to day it was hard to be upbeat. Despite being promised our freedom it seemed that every day there was a new rule to replace the old ones, just re- packaged to sound a bit less scary. Despite the situation being far improved from the first piece I was actually pretty negative this time around, being unable to fully enjoy our first tastes of normality in 18 months due to souring it with worries about how long it would last.
So, what is in store for part 3?
Well, I have to say I got it right the first time. The tag line of my first piece was that whatever happens in 2021 it just cannot be as bad as 2020, therefore anything will be an improvement. Now, when I wrote this, in my head there were images of being able to gather in groups of more than six and stay out past half ten – not something I do often being as boring as I am. Despite the first three months of the year being in lockdown and the feeling that the following nine months could be a bleak continuation there was an ineffable spirit, encapsulated in the attitude that it can’t be that bad. Having endured 2020 it felt like we could make it through almost anything.
The second time I wasn’t quite as accurate. Having had a good few years of false promises from the government (I’m still waiting for Nick Clegg to drop tuition fees) I was choosing to take all of the talk of returning to some normalcy with a pinch of salt and despite the reports of better days on the horizon I’m ashamed to say I didn’t really buy it. This goes back to my original point about perspective as to why 2021 would feel good after 2020. I was able to write a positive piece about the future during a national lockdown, but my piece during a time that was relatively restriction free ended up being more negative. This is because during the lockdown it was easy to look forward and look up; once again I found myself thinking it can’t get much worse, so you have to aim better. In June when things were easing it felt like we had so much to lose again – instead of enjoying it I lived in fear that at a moment’s notice we would return to being locked in our homes.
Whilst the current situation looks to be heading on a downward trajectory - and Boris is fuelled by a determination to ruin everyone's Christmas (except his own it seems) I am trying to remain upbeat.
I’ve learnt my lesson – I am choosing not to engage in the Covid worry too much. Despite constant speculation in the news and from people around me about future lockdowns and case numbers, I’m completely shutting it out. I don’t want to make the same mistake I made in June and waste my remaining freedom worrying about when it might end. If we do get locked down again I don’t want to have to look back at the past few months with regret wishing I’d just taken the time to appreciate things as they were.
So, was I right to be optimistic about 2021?
In a word, yes. There are two reasons – the first being that it has actually exceeded expectations. During the Summer of 2020 we had a brief spell of optimism which was then followed by a swift return to lockdown, so it was easy to look at any sort of progress with suspicion. With this in mind I completely believed that 2021 would follow suit, even in the summer when things looked better I was still convinced that a repeat of 2020 was on the cards, and that by the winter the country would once again grind to a halt. Therefore, when presented with the ability to return to football matches, perform at gigs with my band, travel and meet up with friends again I was overjoyed. Although the year didn’t start off overly great, and may not end particularly great, the position we were in for a few months was beyond expectations (although as I write I realise how dystopian it sounds that my judgement on a good year is just being able to go out).
The second reason is my 2020 vision. Not only does that mean I have good eyes, but also that they are rose tinted. As predicted in my first article any small improvement would feel major after such a terrible year and that has certainly been the case. Absence makes the heart grow fonder - and indeed it has. All the things we took for granted before Covid that are being exposed to us again feel so much better than before. Even watching my team get trounced 4-0 is a happy day just because I was able to be there, amongst people. A combination of the fact that the year has actually been a good one in the circumstances, and that any improvement is increased tenfold after the perspective of 2020, means that I can’t help but look back at 2021 with a smile on my face.
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