You've been both the best and worst year of my life so far. For the sake of ending on a good note, let me first note all the ways you've been the worst.
I didn't think any year could ever top the year I lost my dad. And then you came along. You really should have come with warning labels and an edgy Taylor Swift song in the background. You were the start of the new decade - a hopeful one with a nice ring to its name. Twenty-Twenty, we were all expecting such great things as friends donned flapper outfits as a nod to the 1920s and welcomed you with bangs of fireworks and excitement. Maybe I should have taken the bad omens at the end of 2019 more seriously. I never knew what you had in store for me... and well, the rest of us.
Our meeting began with a whirlwind of awkward encounters with hummus, my kryptonite. Dear readers, no, not as in I am addicted to hummus and would like to eat it for the rest of my life and gain a thousand pounds. It is my kryptonite in that it turns my stomach inside out and empties out its contents, even past the stage of vomiting bile. It happened twice in the two weeks before 2020 came, and then on January 4th, you hid hummus in cracker sandwiches. It was a cocktail affair - a wine-tasting event in a nice dress. It was Jason and my holiday date to make up for the fact that he was on a trip with friends during Christmas and New Year. We were having fun pretending we were posh and able to actually critique wines, when I took a bite of the hummus filled cracker, unknowingly. I spat it out the moment I tasted the hummus, but it was too late. In my slightly tipsy state, I hadn't registered it quickly enough, and had ingested some of the hummus. In moments, I was blacked out, finding myself throwing up outside the venue. It was not a fun car-ride home for me, Jason, or the driver. I remember throwing up out the window, Jason told me I also threw up inside. I even lost my shoe! (Cinderella-Sharon is a pretty common occurrence though, to be honest. The struggles of a small-footed person!)
Then came the flu. A couple weeks after that embarrassing debacle, I was hit with one of the worst flus I've had in a while. Jason had to come to my apartment to pick me up after leaving early from work, and the medication knocked me out so badly, that he had to carry me up to my apartment. Flus are always icky, but little did I know that this was going to basically be the basis of my entire 2020 and ruin my life.
Coughing after I've healed from the flu is something normal to me. I wasn't too concerned when my coughing continued into March, until it wasn't okay anymore. The weekend of March 14th, SoCal shut down due to the pandemic. 2020, you really know how to kill any mood. I began to be a little concerned when I was still (dry) coughing, and it was getting worse. On April 2nd, I woke up very dizzy, and at work, I could barely keep myself upright. My head was pounding, and I could tell I had a fever. The moment my coworker came into work, I stumbled out, took a nap in my car, and got home to quarantine as fast as I could.
The next month would prove to be some of the most anxiety ridden days of my life, especially concerning COVID. I could not get tested despite having such major signs of the virus because I was not A) A healthcare professional B) Dying C) A senior citizen.
It took a couple weeks before testing opened up to my age bracket, and getting an appointment took a week. Then, getting my results took another week. After having "proof" that I was COVID-negative, it took me another few days to reach a doctor. My family physician had shut down in the beginning of the pandemic, and being an HMO medical insurance holder, I had nowhere to go, but Urgent Cares. But even then, Urgent Care doctors were skeptical about the mouth swab test, and required I go in to get a nose swab done before I was actually looked at for my cough and fever.
It was a month before my pneumonia and sinus infection were finally treated, and the medication they gave me were insufficient. For months following this, I was in a vicious cycle of feeling better (though tired and constantly knocked out) over medications, and still to this day, I am coughing due to the damage that has been done to my lungs because of what had happened.
This caused friction in my workplace, as I was no longer able to work in the office, and that in itself was another nightmare of 2020. I cannot divulge at this time* This has caused huge financial burdens due to the pay cut that ensued and the many doctor visits and tests that I've had to pay for. I completely depleted my savings, and have been in the red almost consistently. To be honest, I don't know when I'll be financially okay again.
In school, I struggled with finishing assignments throughout this year, trying to balance what little time I spent awake with work as well.
My weight was such a huge insecurity of mine during this time. During this entire year! 2020, you really know how to kick someone when they're down. I watched as my body shrunk to a shell of what it was, and I lost the muscles I once worked hard for. I could barely walk up a couple flight of stairs without feeling like my heart would beat out of my chest, and my knees would be wobbly from doing the simplest of exercises. I felt gross, and "skinny fat". Then, as I began expanding my diet to foods I couldn't eat before due to my medications, my weight yoyo-ed. I hated how I looked as a shell, and I hated how I looked as a balloon. Still, I struggle with being able to exercise, and my body still feels extremely weak compared to before. I'm still so easily tired, and my stomach has been very messed up by all the medications I took. At least three times a week, I am overcome with horrible stomach aches, gas issues, and/or diarrhea (TMI, sorry). I guess that's one way to say that you're crappy, 2020.
And for my protective friends, you may be wondering where Jason has been through all of this. As he lives with his father, it was safer for him to stay away from me. It was safer to be away from me in case I had COVID, but also safer for me because he still had to go into work. However, this eventually led to a lot of frustration and anxiety on my part, and we eventually went on a break in October. 2020, your timing is atrocious, because this break came right before the weekend my younger sister got married, which has been a constant sore spot in terms of conversation with my traditional mother who critiques me for not finding a man to tie down. It also reminded me that I'm not young enough to not care about whether or not my ovaries will work by the time COVID is over and Jason and I can take another stab at getting married and/or I finally get over him and find someone else to trick into marriage. Now it's New Year's Eve, and I still don't have someone to count down with and smooch at midnight except for my cats, but that just reminds me I'm a "cat lady", which basically translates to spinster in modern day terms. Lovely.
It's honestly just been such a miserable year, and it took a lot of reflection and time to really think of some of the great things that has happened. In fact, these may be the best things that have happened to me.
Firstly, this year has been the first time in a long time that I've been able to sleep so much. This was like a big STOP button that literally paused my life, and reminded me to seek Sabbath and rest in God. To be honest, a lot of that time was spent asking God, begging God, and bargaining with God. But looking back, maybe this was the pause I needed to see more clearly where I was being led towards, and what God has put in my heart.
Speaking of what God has placed in my heart, this year was a really big year in terms of social justice. As a Christian, we are called to advocate for those who do not have a voice, and speak up. 2020 has been a megaphone for us to see the disparity between races, socioeconomic status, and how to step up and be a voice. I was able to begin a podcast (which is currently on hiatus due to personal reasons as aforementioned), which allowed for me to learn a little bit more about different creative venues that I can take.
This pandemic has also given me the opportunity to build deeper relationships with fellow brothers and sisters through a morning devotional group. It's been something I've missed from college, and having it back in my life is so encouraging! It is building the habit again of having Christ-centered fellowship.
It also opened up new avenues in terms of accountability and praying for one another - not just through the morning devotionals group, but also in a Sunday-sermon-watching group. I've never been particularly good at building up sisterhood and friendships with girls. However, having this girl's group to walk together in life with has been really encouraging and rewarding. It has even helped me in making the decision to finally get baptized at my church. The pandemic had shaken up my thoughts on whether or not I was called to stay at this church. However, it was these girls who anchored me.
As I spent more time in building up communities within the Church, my heart for God's people grew, and so did my prayer life. I have been loving serving in the young adult group, and this year, God opened up the opportunity for me to serve in the leadership team. It has also been such a grounding experience to be able to meet monthly with a group of likeminded individuals who are passionate about the church and sharing God's love.
As aforementioned, it's been such a struggle with my health and money, but God has shown me the importance of community and building faith-based relationships. Because of these ridiculous lows, I've also experienced the greatness of God's love through brothers and sisters who reached out to help financially, and even buy me groceries and make me food. It's been such a hard time for everyone, but I have been so blessed by their willing hearts to give to a sister in need.
Though I am still very tired and weak, it's been a bit better lately, and I've had the opportunity to take some online courses during my Winter Break to learn some things I've always wanted to learn, but never had the time to. It's been really rewarding being able to dive into my interests, whether it's playing the guitar, coding, website design, graphic design, etc.
As I look onwards to 2021, I see hope.
Despite whatever hardships 2020 threw at me, God sustained me, whether through encouragements from His Word, or through the brothers and sisters he placed in my life.
I'm looking forward to:
A) Enhancing new skills
B) Finding a new job, wherever that takes me
C) Start saving some money again
D) Building up stronger relationships
E) Giving back to the community
G) Ending the hiatus on this blog and my podcast
H) Healing physically and emotionally
Honestly, 2020 has been a really rough year for many of us. I hope that 2021 brings new hope and opportunities for all of us!
"Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning." - Psalm 30:5