The Year of Isolation

At the end of every year, I like to look back and summarise my year as it had been. Here’s again to doing that.

I was full of energy at the beginning of 2020. I started the year with challenging myself to pick an activity and do it every day in the coming month, each month.

January was great. I did 100 pushups every single day (even though procrastinating and trying to finish them toward midnight each night).

In February, I gave up my smartphone, tried to go thirty days without a phone. The first few weeks were great. Friends coming home without being able to inform me beforehand felt like an amazing surprise. Trying to meet friends somewhere outside at a preplanned hour felt so old-school and fun. At the same time, I started catching up with my few close friends via emails and Facebook messages. To be honest, I did get quite attached to checking Facebook on my laptop every few hours and watching Youtube videos. So maybe that didn’t go as well as I had expected.

In March, I decided to meditate for at least ten minutes everyday. I hardly made it to the seventh day and then gave up. I don’t have anything against meditation. I am just more of an occasional meditator than a regular one.
Meanwhile, the fear of Covid-19 was everywhere and from march 22nd we found ourselves under a strict lockdown.

April was Poetry Writing month, so that’s what I did every day–write a poem a day. It is one of the things I am proud of doing this year. A few of those poems certainly became favourites of mine.

After April, I had other things on my mind, and I forgot all about my monthly challenges. These other things were dealing with being under lockdown and an opportunity to work as a freelance copyeditor. Despite these things, I managed to pick up a daily workout routine which lasted for two months.

Being under lockdown was a new thing for sure. But it also awakened a sense of responsibility in me. I decided to be the one to step out of house to buy anything that was needed–groceries, milk, ration, whatever. Also the first couple of months under lockdown were fun as it included more than ever held before family get-togethers over Zoom, Hangout, or WhatsApp video calls. And the same happened with friends (I remember playing Dumb charades with friends over video call). And the same happened with community events.

But somewhere after two-three months, the charm of weekly video calls wore off for me, and life was back to being busy. I was learning new things in my work. I could see my skills improving. I was procrastinating. I was trying to be more efficient, more productive. I read Deep Work by Cal Newport. I left Instagram. I started socially isolating myself, limiting my exposure to whatever was going on, even talking to fewer and fewer friends and that too quite infrequently.

In the midst of all this, I found out about some of my friends getting Covid-19. That information came as a blow. It was hard, saddening, and fear-inducing at first, but as my friends recovered, the peace seemed to get restored.

In August and September, striving to be more productive and limiting my social interactions had left me gloomy. Also, I was dealing with some emotional ups and downs. With all this going on, I felt unusually sad and lonely. I was in a really shitty mood on my birthday. I kept my phone switched off so no one could wish me and I could just wallow in my sadness. I threw myself in work the whole day and spent another shitty day. This certainly makes it to the top of the list of things I am not proud of have done this year.

Then, in the second half of September, a new hobby entered my life. I started baking cakes. The first two I tried to make for my brother’s birthday. And then I just fell in love with the fragrance of vanilla essence. I found a Youtube channel called Bake with Shivesh, and that inspired me more and more. And so I started baking cakes at least once every two weeks. It worked as a stress buster. I remember being enchanted by the smell of vanilla and being excited upon seeing my cakes rise inside the oven. What joy!

In October and November, I strived to find a work life balance. But still things just seemed to be slipping out of my hands. I was missing all my deadlines. I was procrastinating more and more. But I definitely started talking to my friends more as that helped me de-stress and brought some mental peace.

The second half of the year was quite a mess for me as I couldn’t or didn’t do quite a lot of things that I should have done, like exercise, read books for pleasure, write blogs, learn new things, etc. The reason for this was partly an increased workload and partly not feeling motivated to do anything. I felt like I was sabotaging my happiness. I felt like I was living under a rock.

In December, finally, I decided to meet all my work deadlines no matter what. I found the YouTube channel of James Scholz, who livestreams a 12 hour Study with me session every week day. I started working alongside those livestreams or even their recordings, and that helped me so much in building a discipline and avoiding procrastination.

Overall, this year for me, working as a freelancer was hard as I didn’t have any work colleagues. It felt really isolating. And in our country, where labour is cheap, third-party freelance work can oftentimes be an overworking and getting underpaid situation. I definitely felt that.

So, in this coming year, I’m looking forward to getting an in-office job at a local publishing house (which might depend on the Coronavirus situation). Also, I’m looking forward to build some consistency around my workouts and take care of my physical well-being. I also need to deal with some ghosts of the past which I should have left in the past long ago. And finally, I hope to progress a bit with my medical transition as well.

Cheers to 2021! The start of a new decade!


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