2021: the year that was

My wonderful best friend Nafisa has been doing this annual round-up post for thirteen years this year. I’m less consistent but decided to give it a go again this year. If you want to do this too, copy and paste the questions to your platform of choice and leave a comment so I can read it.

1. What did you do in 2021 that you’d never done before?
Go fulltime freelance. Although, my work is that of a contractor’s but with none of the benefits. I more or less work the hours that suit me, as long as I meet the deadlines in my schedule, more or less. I also consciously decided not to spend Christmas with my family. The fact that my nephew tested positive for COVID a week before made me feel less guilty, at least.

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
No New Year’s resolutions last year. This year, I’m determined to be more active in an effort to shift the last few kilos holding me down.

3. How will you be spending New Year’s Eve?
I enjoyed a braai with the retired couple I rent from and another septuagenarian couple. Lots of bubbly and even more laughs. After I write this I’ll have a shower and knit in bed until I can no longer keep my eyes open, probably around 23:00.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Fortunately, not.

5. What countries did you visit?
Still none, but hopefully next year will be different. Although, I’m pretty sure I wish this every year.

6. What would you like to have in 2022 that you lacked in 2021?
Money, just because I’d like to not stress every month about covering all my expenses. Freelancing has its downsides.

7. What date from 2021 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Friday 5 March. It was the day that confirmed that I’ll get the position I have now, but also the breakthrough day that I realised my family really wasn’t there for me and that I’ve given up so much of me for them, and that I will never do that again.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I’m not sure. Probably making it through the year. Although, part of me feels like I was feeling happier last year than this year, despite being more in control of my life this year. Maybe I just don’t remember last year.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not managing to get to a point where I don’t feel constantly stressed about my finances, future, etc.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Towards the end of the year, my back started acting up again. Hopefully, nothing major. 🤞

11. What was the best thing you bought?
A new laptop, with the help of Nafisa. It’s helped to improve my productivity significantly.

12. Where did most of your money go?
Life. I’m exceedingly anxious about needing to pick up payments for the student loan again in the new year. It would be the single greatest monthly expense.

13. What song will always remind you of 2021?
Not just a reminder of the year, but also a person. Emillio, if you read this, I wish I had the chance to love you.

14. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Writing blog posts. I had such high hopes for this year and started off strong. My job entails writing content for other sites, including articles. As a result, I’ve felt a bit fatigued about maintaining my own content.

15. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Making excuses for my nephew in particular. He’s had a tough 22 years. However, when I discovered that he absolutely refuses to be vaccinated all of that changed. If he can have such a definitive stance on public health and how his decisions impact those around him, he can take responsibility for the money he owes on the student loan, which reflects on my credit record, not his.

16. What was your favourite TV program?
I hardly every watch much of anything. I rewatched all three seasons of Drive To Survive, obviously, and once things settled down for a bit, I religiously watched every Formula 1 Grand Prix after the summer break. Driver pressers, practice sessions, sprints, qualis, races – I loved it all. And race day = intensive skincare day, particularly for the Austin, Mexico, and Brazil races that took place late local time. Also, Blown Away was magical.

17. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I don’t hate anyone, but I’ve severed communication with my brother, who seemed to be okay with my prospects of being homeless.

18. What was the best book you read?
I read some incredible books today. If you know me, you should know by now that for me “read” means listen, more often than not. However, the actual paperback I read and absolutely adored was The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot. Other reads I happily bestowed five stars during the year included:

  • The Queen’s Gambit (I couldn’t get into the series, but my word, this book is magical)
  • Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (afterwhich I rewatched two seasons)
  • Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey through His Son’s Meth Addiction (I still haven’t plucked up the courage to watch the movie)
  • All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
  • City of Girls (I still haven’t read Eat, Pray, Love but if it’s anything like this book, I’m missing out)
  • The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse (An illustrated book to remind us of hope and inner strength. Last year’s birthday present from a very dear friend)
  • The Flying Flamingo Sisters (a fun Audible Original in the vein of the stories my grandfather used to tell us)
  • Billy Summers (Stephen King delivers an outstanding work without the raw gore he’s best known for)
  • Map to the Unknown: A Journey Inward

19. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Super late to the party, but 5 Seconds of Summer and Dua Lipa.

20. What was your favourite film of this year?
I don’t think I actually watched any films this year. Generally, I’d rather listen to a book. Maybe that’s something I should try to change for 2022.

21. What did you do on your birthday?
I had lunch twice with Nafisa in the week leading up to my birthday, the second time while we were at Kamers/Makers. On the day itself, I had tea with the incredible couple I rent from to enjoy a home-baked chocolate cake. This was followed by a trip to Gather at the Soko District in Rosebank to meet some of the personalities behind the brands stocked at this local grocer.

22. What kept you sane?
My Spotify premium subscription. Nafisa. Andrea. The Gauls. My meds. Knitting.

23. Who did you miss?
My grandparents. I often wonder what my grandfather would make of my situation and what advice he’d give me.

24. Who was the best new person you met?
Louisa and William Gaul – the couple I currently rent a flat from. They are generous and kind and just what I needed to get me back on my feet and closer to happiness again. Also the team at the agency I write for. They are all incredibly supportive.

25. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2021.
I should’ve learned this by now, but not everyone will do for you what you do for them. Not even family. It was a devastating realisation that every time I was at my lowest, putting someone else’s needs before my own is what got me there.

There are fewer than three hours left of this year. If you want to connect, I’m very chatty on Twitter, post often enough on Instagram, and update my Goodreads frequently.

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