My 2020 rewind: a year of struggles, lost hopes, and mini-wins

This 2020 has been a roller coaster ride for me. The same can be said of the current situation that the world finds itself in. Although, the world is pretty much stuck on an uphill climb with no end in sight for a downward slope.

The current year that is passing has been a constant up and down for me. Unfortunately though, the series of ups were greater than its equivalent. Painting a picture of Sisyphus, I am in an upward struggle for most of the year, making this officially my annus horribilis. (Not set in stone though, since that may change in the future.)

A year of struggles. Those four words are enough to describe what 2020 is for me. What made this year so special than before? Why is this year capped by struggles? Questions like these made me reevaluate the current year on a whole new light. Yes, I may have struggled a lot this year, but there are also mini-wins this year. With that though, comes lost hopes on what would have been my greatest year.

So, I’m revisiting my 2020 with a rewind divided into three: struggles, lost hopes, and mini-wins! Yes, this post may sound cheesy and all. Trust me though, I’m speaking on my own personal experience so there’s no controversy unlike the recent YouTube Rewinds.

A year of struggles

2020’s key achievement was that it created a lot of struggles for me. The very first months of the year opened with a horrible event that was a first in my life: a volcanic eruption. My province (Batangas) actually made global headlines when Taal Volcano erupted in January 2020. Its eruption was surely explosive enough to blanket the surrounding areas on thick blankets of ash. People have to be evacuated due to a threat of a much bigger eruption.

Fortunately, the volcano just erupted explosively once. It now lies dormant again, though the Philippines’ volcanic agency (Phivolcs) keeps a close watch on Taal for future activities.

During this time, my anxiety begun to rear its ugly head once more. It flared up during the third week of January. This episode made me start from scratch once again. The succeeding months saw me dealing with issues that I was able to mostly control in the past. My anxiety surfaced as a series of valleys: it will peak, then it will die down.

Up until now, I struggle to control my anxiety. The good news, however, is that I’m still fine. I’m still working on a new strategy to control it effectively, but my mood improved a lot during the last quarters of 2020. (Consider that as some sort of a mini-win!)

Of course, this wouldn’t be a 2020 rewind without a mention of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has changed my lifestyle for the worse, forcing me to stay indoors for most of the time. Everything has changed, and it won’t be soon before the “normal” order of things return.

I remember clearly how the pandemic first began in the Philippines. Way back in January, the country has started to receive reports of a mysterious disease from Wuhan. Since the current administration loves China (too much!), immigrants and workers were free to come and go in the country. Then, more of them keep coming with the disease, and the health agency (DOH) began to consider quarantines.

The current government thought it handled the disease well. Well, they were wrong. By March, DOH confirmed reports of local transmission. Strict lockdown measures were enforced by March 15. Thankfully, I just left Manila and my dormitory only two weeks ago. If I was there by that date, I would have been forced to stay — and worse, only leave this holiday season.

If the pandemic has one personal casualty, it would be the outdoors. Going outside has been a constant struggle this year, making me appreciate the ease of travel from years past. Public transportation was crippled when the pandemic started, so many travel plans of mine had to be cancelled. The last time I rode a bus was last March. So, I sorely miss riding the bus — after all, it is the only convenient way to reach Manila from where I live.

And I sorely miss going on a vacation. Not the staycation type, but the real deal where you will travel and spend a night on a place far away from home.

Lost hopes and dreams

2020 also represents a year of lost hopes and dreams for me. This year, I could have gotten myself a new job. However, that didn’t happen because of many factors, but I especially blame the current pandemic. I recently graduated last 2019, so I got caught in a worse timing.

Granted, I could have easily applied for a job last year. However, two things: first, I enrolled for a Master’s degree that I now regret. Thankfully, I have only done one semester before realizing that the degree may not be my calling at all.

Second, I was so busy enjoying the “post-graduate” life. By “post-graduate” life, I mean being laid-back and telling myself that it was going to be okay if I didn’t get a job by the end of 2019. Totally wrong. Though as I consolation, I tried to apply to multiple positions but was also unlucky.

This year dashed all my hopes for starting a new career. As I said before, my mental health issues also got in the way. I can guarantee, however, that my anxiety doesn’t define me and I will continue to function as normal, human being.

In another reality, 2020 could have been different. I could be doing this or that, but instead, I’m stuck home with nowhere to go. So, I’m greatly looking forward to 2021 but I know things are not going to get better anytime soon.

And a year of mini-wins

Like all things in life, 2020 also has some fair share of positives. Even though they may be small, I believe that they are still worth celebrating to balance out the negativity of this year. I’m calling this my mini-wins, which are bite-sized victories that should wrap up this 2020.

My first mini-win? Driving. Yep, I’m now much more confident on the road than what I was two to three years ago. I first got my license in 2017, but back then I was struggling to drive. (For context, one can get a driver’s license without too much effort in the Philippines.)

Then came the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. For years, I have been eyeing a new laptop to replace my old cheap IdeaPad that runs badly and has severe hinge damage. I got my mom’s ThinkPad T440 work laptop as a replacement last 2019, and I was mightily impressed by the keyboard. So, when it’s time for me to purchase a new one, I immediately searched for a new ThinkPad. The problem, however, is that I got my brand-new laptop not from Lenovo’s official store but from laptop resellers since laptop selection in the Philippines suck!

A new dog to join the family: this year also saw the birth of cute dog that quickly became my favorite among the bunch. The dog is a she and will mark one year since birth this January 2021. Her name, by the way, is Calla.

Anime, anime, anime. I suck at keeping up with the latest trends, so I came up late to the anime party. This 2020 has been particularly remarkable for introducing me to the anime world. My first anime? Guess what it is, but it is spelled as AoT. The last anime that I’ve watched is Great Pretender, which is pretty okay until the final season hits.

Here are the other anime (movie or series) I’ve watched, sourced straight from Giphy (because I’m a lazy bum).

I’ve actually watched more, thanks to Netflix. Since I’ve already mentioned Netflix, I want to give a shout-out to all the amazing cast of The Crown. Season 4 is out, and I can pretty much say that it’s the best so far. Here’s my short description of the season for GadgetMatch’s Now Playing: Holiday Edition.

The Crown’s latest season could be its best yet. The new season features the tumultuous marriage of Princess Diana and Prince Charles. Margaret Thatcher — one of the UK’s most famous yet equally controversial prime ministers — also shares half of the spotlight. Delivering on sheer performance and superb portrayal of real events, season 4 solidifies The Crown as one of the best historical dramas to date. It’s a little unfair though, that viewers are left to wait for a long time before a new season drops as this season ends in one of the pivotal moments on the UK’s storied monarchy.

Kenrick Buduan, 2020 (https://www.gadgetmatch.com/now-playing-holiday-edition/)

Wrapping up my list of mini-wins is a conscious dabble into skincare routine. Yes, this might sound cheesy and some may think that I’m a guy (hey, skincare is for everyone — after all, it is still part of your body!) However, I became more conscious of that acne since I’m staying more indoors. As the year ends, I’m now more conscious of my face, so I will be sharing a simple skincare routine of mine:

Morning Routine

  1. Cleanse face with water.
  2. Moisturize.
  3. Apply facial sunscreen.

Afternoon Routine

  1. Cleanse with a lightweight cleanser.
  2. Exfoliate (but only two to three times a week).
  3. Moisturize.

That’s it for the moment. I like to keep things simple, and I research any products that I would use before buying. I have been using Cetaphil products, and I would like to stick my face with that one since it just works. (Like many skincare enthusiasts would say, your mileage may vary.)

Picture of the Year: Taal Erupting (January 12, 2020)

So, that wraps up my 2020 rewind. 2020 may be a difficult year for me, but I’ve managed to wiggle out my way through every difficulties and will continue to do so. I’m hoping that 2021 would be more forgiving.

Here’s to 2021!

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