- What a year.
While 2012 was predicted to be the year that changed everything, I think they might have reversed the second two numbers.
It was a strange year for everyone – from COVID to Black Lives Matter to protests – everything that was silently broken suddenly became loud and clear.
I had a strangely quiet year – I spent a lot of time outside walking around exploring different neighbourhoods and connecting and reconnecting with people across the world. It feels bizarre to write reflections for a year that I couldn’t really punctuate in any way.
I did however, sit down and go through my diary to think about the highlights. After a year that had so much negativity, I wanted to reflect on the positive:
- Finished my first ever (self-motivated) online course: Science of Wellbeing
- Explored locally with trips to Newcastle, Wollongong (went paragliding), and Melbourne and started a ferry bucket list
- Traveled to India (pre-COVID) where my eyes were opened to the diversity that exists within the country – the craft of everything from food to music to textiles – that isn’t valued enough
- Became involved in a local community of runners (ParkRun)
- Joined a netball team and learned how to play!
- Learned how to drive in a foreign country (and subsequently get ticketed)
- Worked on designing a dress to submit for a sewing competition
- Delved into crafting – from recording a session with Art Somewhere, to creating polymer clay beads for necklaces and earrings, to painting pots for a little garden
- Experimentally cooked and baked to no end. A smattering of the ones I was proud of: russian honey cake, chai fizz cocktail, dumplings from scratch, no churn ice cream (which was a whole phase), tuna tartare, grazing platters, and a whole host of Indian food that I had never thought I could make without my mum.
- Moved into my own apartment which was the biggest big-girl-pants step I’ve taken. It was one of the most difficult moves I’ve ever done but the home improvement projects on the other side have brought me a lot of joy.
- Acquired an undercut, new glasses, and 2 dear new friends
- Tackled some projects that were on my “forever list”: converting everything to Notion, getting computer keys fixed, editing my 5-year photo backlog
While I oddly wasn’t focused on professional development, I had some highlights there as well:
- I spoke at a national conference, UX Australia (and made a darling virtual friend through it)
- I spoke at Austin Design Week
- I spoke for 2 podcasts (one on creativity, the other on resilience) and did a short interview about design
- Mentored 3 lovely young designers through the IxDa Sydney Mentoring Program
- I met some lovely ladies at a workshop for Women in UX
- I worked with an executive coach who helped me as I learned to dig myself out of a mental and emotional professional ditch
- Donated my time to Project Displaced to help professionals who had lost their jobs during COVID to find secondary or permanent employment
By not being in the place that I called home for most of my life, I learned how to be present in my current home. I learned how to invest in the community and the world around me in a way I wouldn’t have been able to if a global pandemic didn’t exist.
Of course there was a sense of panic. It was there when borders started closing down. The feeling of being trapped inside a box and not being able to explain it to yourself that this is a good thing is a (hopefully) once-in-a-blue-moon feeling. And when everything is reduced down to the basics, the central question of the year for me became:
What is the difference between simplicity and monotony?
As someone who continually tries to move forward, it was a hard thing to swallow. Letting go and mourning of the things I couldn’t do was only the beginning to accepting and acknowledging the amount of pressure I put on myself.
I learned that people’s lives continue to move forward even within a pandemic, and with it it brought an uncanny acceptance of the passage of time. I learned to embrace my people (however few or far they are) and that you can feel loved anywhere and at anytime.
In some ways, my 2020 goals were reached, just in a way I would ever have expected.
For the first time in year, I don’t have any professional goals for 2021. I’m looking to be re-inspired by design in a new way, but I’m also happy to just be. Between taking care of my body (fitness and diet), budgeting, and volunteering, it’s going to be a year of being once again!