Before I dive in, here’s a disclaimer: this has easily been the longest I’ve gone without writing a blog post. Admittedly, I’m a bit ashamed, but then again, it has taken me a while to finally come to terms with the fact that 2020 took its toll on me too.
Upward Trajectories have Dips too
Besides contracting COVID-19 towards the end of the year, 2020 was a frustrating year for me on many fronts. If you know me well, you’ll know that I can grow impatient – particularly when things don’t move at the pace that I had planned or anticipated. I’m a big believer in momentum and I would’ve loved to have continued on the self-proclaimed upward trajectory I found myself on in 2019, but in reality, things didn’t quite manifest that way I wanted them to last year. But then again, how many people can really say that last year panned out as planned?
Having just completed my 2020 goals review, I can safely say that I didn’t achieve everything I’d set out to. But you know what? I am okay with it.
It took a conversation with one of my mentors for me to take a step back and truly reflect on the following: in a year like 2020, it would be naive of me to count my shortfalls and not my blessings.
My loved ones and I are safe and healthy. I have a job. I am 24. I have time.
“Your Mic is on Mute” – a 2020 Proverb
Having enjoyed my December (into early January) in South Africa, I returned to Dublin for a few weeks to get my 2020 up and running. I then flew back to South Africa a few weeks later and set up a temporary base in Google’s Johannesburg offices where I went on to deliver three 2020 Digital Strategy workshops for SMEs. I was off to a flying start!
I returned back to Dublin midway through February and resumed work and life as normal. I even had (work and leisure) travels lined up for the whole year… and then it hit!
COVID-19 brought the world to a halt.
Fortunately, Google was really on the ball and we transitioned into working from home from really early on. Before I knew it, I was on a plane back to South Africa where I went and set up my work-from-home (WFH) office in Cape Town. While the shift to WFH felt pretty seamless, it did take some time for me to adjust to this new way of life.
For instance, I really do miss social interactions in the workplace. There are small things that I realise I took for granted like meeting new and interesting people in the micro-kitchens, or being able to lean over to one of my teammates to ask a question or crack a joke (without having to set up a virtual meeting). And yes, I miss the free food and all of the other weird and wonderful office perks we have too.
Despite this curveball of a year, here are some of my favourite highlights:
- I was able to work on a bunch of projects outside of my core role – bringing new and exciting challenges.
- I formalised mentorship agreements with 2 amazing mentors.
- Similarly, I formalised mentorship agreements with 3 mentees.
- I delivered virtual digital marketing workshops to help over 1000+ SMEs get their businesses online.
- I had a few of my written pieces featured on different media platforms – I think my favourite was the interview I did with BizCommunity for Youth Month.
- I witnessed two brands that I work closely with, MAXHOSA Africa and TSHEPO Jeans, survive a lockdown and grow from strength to strength. This is evident in the opening of new retail stores in the V&A Waterfront and Hyde Park Shopping Centre for the brands respectively.
- Towards the end of the year, one of my side-hustles picked up some momentum and 4 new team members came on board (watch this space!)
- I got to spend the bulk of my time in my favourite city in the world: Cape Town. (I’ve kinda forgotten what the cold in Dublin feels like.)
- While working from Cape Town, I was able to spend time with some of my closest friends who really made the entire COVID-19 situation a lot more bearable.
- While working from Johannesburg, I was able to spend quality time with the most important people in my life, my family.
- While working from Durban, I got to spend 2 months living with my best friend.
- And despite COVID-19 ruining my Dad’s original plans, my sister and I were able to throw him a surprise 60th birthday experience that he’ll remember for the rest of his life.
- A lack of live sports also meant watching more sports documentaries. I must’ve watched every single major sports documentary available on DSTV, Netflix and Amazon Prime last year! My 2 favourites were undoubtedly Chasing the Sun and The Last Dance.
- Last but not least, it was the year of Amapiano for me. I mean I’ve always known that Amapiano got me through the year, but Apple Music confirmed it! (See below).
My Year in Numbers
- Flights taken: 24 (most of which were domestic flights in SA)
- WFH offices: 3 (Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban)
- PL Fantasy League points: 837 (at close of year)
- Hours of music listened to: 726
- Number of artists listened to: 796
- Number of hours listening to Kabza de Small: 80
- Number of hours listening to DJ Maphorisa: 46
- Number of hours listening to Kabza de Small X DJ Maphorisa: 20
Wrapping up and Looking Ahead
Having been in South Africa since the beginning of March 2020 and only being set to return to Dublin at the beginning of March 2021, a year would’ve passed since I packed for what I then thought would be a brief trip back home. If you’d told me at the beginning of 2020 that I’d be back living in South Africa, I probably would’ve laughed at you!
The unexpected nature of my stay is (amongst many other things) telling of the fact that all in all, 2020 didn’t go according to plan. Despite this, there remains plenty to celebrate and even more to be grateful for – family and friends; health and having lived up to my theme for 2020 of “growing others exponentially”.
Looking ahead, who knows what 2021 holds? I’ve gone through my annual goal-setting exercise knowing full and well that I will most likely have to pivot and adapt them as the year goes by. Perhaps the silver lining in this entire experience is learning the ability to adapt and thrive in uncertain times? If so, I want to make sure I am an expert at it.
For the time being, I will control the controllables and look to focus a whole lot more on me this year. My theme will be “focus on the inputs” (my controllables) and make sure that I come out of 2021 a better version of myself – ready to take the second half of my 20s by storm!