What the Heck Was That? My Reflections on 2020

I have been in a rut, you might call it writer’s block if I was a writer. A creative slump. I haven’t posted anything but short-lived stories on my Instagram since March, my last Medium article was a repost of an interview I did ages ago and my LinkedIn posts and engagement have gone down considerably. I could beat myself up about it and look at all the productivity hacks and habits for billionaires or something like that, but I won’t. I refuse. I made it through this year and that in itself is a success.

I like to consider myself strong but let’s be real this year was hard. It flew by like it only had 3 months instead of 12 and yet I feel like I aged 3 years at the same time.

So let me not tell you about all the things I have accomplished in a pandemic and how Corona was a chance. Instead, let me tell you about the things I didn’t do simply because I just could not.

Stick to my goals

In “Plan 2020 with me” I had told you about my word of the year as well as some intentions I had set for myself, let’s see how that worked out.

Professional

  • set tangible career goals ❌ In fact, I did not set any career goals and I had to work reduced hours for half of the year, at least, I was lucky and did not lose my job.
  • learn continuously 🤔 Well, I am still doing my uni program in Forensic Engineering, but that was really all I did because, you know, it’s 2000€ a semester, which is nothing compared to uni tuition in some other countries but still.
  • share knowledge & experience ✅ Yay, that one actually worked out. I have been and will continue to mentor some amazing people, have great chats with other professionals who’ve become friends, run Women in Product Berlin, and the Product Exchange (kinda like a guild) at work.
  • putting myself out there (writing, speaking…) 🤔 While I wrote close to no new posts, I did have the opportunity to speak at some meetups and conferences and I am very grateful for the opportunities. I still get ridiculously nervous each time and forget how to speak words in the beginning, but you gotta start somewhere.

Personal

  • practice more self-care ❌ I took very little time for this, I have done a few yoga sessions and took a bubble bath once. Let’s try again.
  • reach out to friends more ❌ At the beginning of the pandemic I did put in effort which dwindled over time because I was just too exhausted.
  • be more sustainable ❌ I don’t even know what I meant by that. As a good German, I recycle properly, of course 😂

Financial

  • finish paying off debt (dem student loans…) ❌ Since I was working reduced hours this was not possible.
  • be more frugal to save for a nice vacation ❌ see above.

As you can see, anything but professional was a big nope this year. It’s the one thing I was able to sort of keep up and that’s ok. It would have probably been more beneficial to keep up with the self-care, being raised in capitalism had me biased.

Growth

My word of the year was “growth” and while this did not pan out the way I thought it would, I did definitely grow.

I learned that I need to protect my mental health and throw my hands up and just play Animal Crossing for two days, or Minecraft.

Content warning for the next few paragraphs: Discussing the events/news of the past year.

Escapism in little bursts can be a valid choice when the world literally burns, black people are being murdered, WWIII is a possibility, murder hornets are on the loose and you cannot see your loved ones in person.

Over the summer especially, I cried a lot. The injustice in the world seems unfathomable at times.

I learned, again. White people are the worst. We need to collectively do better. I wanna make a few things clear and kindly ask you to go and google this stuff if you have questions:

  • Black lives matter
  • There’s no reverse racism
  • Blue lives are not a thing
  • Trans rights are human rights
  • Sex work is work
  • Bodily autonomy is a human right

This is by no means an extensive list.

I am so heartbroken that this is still our reality. If you want to educate yourself, here are some people/accounts I can recommend:

Rachel Cargle on InstagramNYC 🌿 Public Academic, Philanthropic Innovator, Social Entrepreneur.

Alok V Menon on Instagramauthor. performer. speaker. nerd. fashionist@!

No White Saviours on InstagramEDUCATION • ADVOCACY • ACTION
“If you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not listening”

3 Token Brown Girls on InstagramEducating accomplices. Protecting marginalized voices.

Madison Butler on LinkedInThe Blue Haired Unicorn 🦄 | VP, Talent + People | Speaker | Builder of Inclusive Cultures |Startup Enthusiast| Black + Queer AF |

This is just a starting point. Listen to the voices of the marginalized people. I am an able-bodied, white cis woman with a uni degree, I have so much privilege. Do I get marginalized by white dudes? Yeah, but that does not mean I do not have privilege in literally every other area.

Is it uncomfortable to acknowledge your own privilege? Heck yes. And it’s continuous, you don’t just do it once. It’s not enough to “not be a racist”, we gotta be anti-racist and support that not only with words but actions. This also applies to homo- and transphobia, sexism and xenophobia. We all need to unlearn what an unjust society has ingrained in us. It takes time and a lot of work. Do the work.

So, what now?

I am gonna try again. I will set goals again. I will make plans. And I will be hopeful.

2019 was the year of rejection and loss for me. I set out to rock 2020 and planned accordingly. Well, life happens. 2020 tripped us all, we collectively fell to the ground. Personally, I am gonna lie on the floor just a tad longer, and then I will get back up.

So now, we rest!

Allow yourself a break, little or big, whatever you need right now. Everywhere we look, the hustle and the grind are advertised as the holy grail. Productivity and habits for billionaires over slacking and being lazy.

Resting is not being lazy.

Looking out for your (mental) health is not slacking.

It is important and will be my biggest goal for this new year. I have been dragging my exhausted self to the finish line of 2020, but this has to stop.

One of the best perks of working from home for me are lunchtime naps and I am proud of those.

Happy New Year, stay healthy and rest 💜

Product strategist, decision facilitator, team enabler, problem solver, design sprinter, agile enthusiast, intersectional feminist.

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