Reading. Writing. Lots of tea. It’s so easy to say, that’s it! That was my 2020! Besides, it was the year of staying in, so, how else would I wrap the year up other than closing it off with those five words, anyway? Well, to start off, in no particular order: there’s also been lots and lots and lots of studying. Caffeine made a surprising comeback, too. Then there’s the cult of bookstagram, welcome to the club. Launched my own accessories brand. Picked up my long-lost hobby of painting. And finally, sing it with me: our whole universe was in a hot dense state…
Reading, reading, and more reading
My books were the ones that kept me company for the most part of 2020 (and tea)—I read 53 of them last year. Some were outstanding, some were just okay, and there were some I didn’t like at all. But what really took me away and completely swept me off my feet (however that means in a literary sense) were these two: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara and The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Quite overwhelmingly, I read TSH right after I finished A Little Life and I couldn’t be sure if it had been a bad idea or a good one, since I think that both books are, generally speaking, extremely demanding of the reader. However, in the context of this blog post, I think I’m going to go ahead and say… that I’m glad I read them both after one another anyway. Two of the best books I’ve ever read.
A Little Life truly stuck with me throughout the entire year and up until today, it continues to live rent-free in my mind (I tweeted this and I’m very happy to be recycling the joke, ha-ha). These were the kind of characters I had never encountered before, nor expected to ever encounter at all, honestly. In my opinion, A Little Life is a book that you read with the heart and not the mind, and for its story and not its form. The flesh of the book stems right from the three-dimensionality of the characters and the stories embedded within each of them. Yanagihara did a great job with the writing and structure, but the character-building in this one was just unbelievably good. I’m looking forward to rereading it this year when I get the chance to.
This experience was immediately followed by The Secret History, which I read in March and it was a shockingly disturbing literary encounter, frankly speaking—but in a good way. For this, I applaud the dark academic world Tartt created and was able to sustain for the entirety of the novel. None of the characters were morally likable, nor morally right in the head if I’m being honest, but I found myself intrigued and hooked from the very beginning. Cool story: I’m currently rereading it!
On art and creativity
Art took up a huge portion of my 2020, too. By that I mean both the art of writing and painting. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. Simply put, I’ve been writing since I was a kid, so whenever I feel sad, happy, overwhelmed, confused, or scared—I’d simply write as a way of processing these emotions. Sometimes, the emotions even feel foreign, but writing helps me figure things out and that’s exactly how it got me through 2020. I also picked up a long-lost hobby of mine which is painting. It is watercolor I’m most familiar with but I recently tried out gouache and so far, I’m really liking it. Might have to practice more in order to figure out which medium I like better…
Books on the gram
Possibly the coolest online space I’ve ever discovered: bookstagram. Two-sides-of-the-coin metaphor applies here, of course: while it’s a good place to share your reading experiences, at the same time, for most people, it’s not about reading but simply about the engagement. So, there’s definitely that pressure to keep posting even when you barely have the time to read… and that’s not easy. Personally, I’m simply there to share and talk about the books that I read, but sometimes the audience disagrees when the posting schedule isn’t particularly regular and they unfollow (again, what a surprise—the wonders of social media). Which is honestly sad, but is usually something I don’t mind at all because simply having an outlet to occasionally share what I’m currently reading is more than enough.
Online classes naturally felt strange to me at first because I’ve obviously never done remote learning before. But here’s the thing… I think I actually like it better than regular face-to-face classes simply because I have complete control over my schedule. Last year, I was able to balance studying and the things that spark my creativity (again, reading… writing, the stuff you already know) properly. I found online classes to be greatly beneficial to my mental health and wellbeing. But of course, there still are advantages that come with face-to-face classes such as actual interaction with people and the physical experience of attending classes, which I both equally miss.
Bonus fact: caffeine (what a shock, it’s honestly been a while) and Rory Gilmore got me through the semester.
One of the things I’m most proud of is @mijaph, an accessories brand that I launched in September 2020. I’ve always wanted to start my own business but never knew how to back then. In 2018, I remember wanting to launch an online clothing brand, but it didn’t feel right at the time. With mija, the idea just came to me, and it felt absolutely just right. Combined with the concept of gifting, my love for accessories naturally found its purpose. I still got a long way to go and so much more to learn, but I’m liking the journey so far with 4 months of experience on hand and new plans to come in 2021.
It all started with the big bang, or so the theme of the show says, but I’d say my 2020 ended with the Big Bang—quite literally. The Big Bang Theory wrapped my 2020 up perfectly with characters and places that felt like home to me. I’m certainly no science person, but this show resonated with me for reasons I honestly do not understand. TBBT was the show I looked forward to watching every night after long days of studying, it brought me the comfort of a fictional world I know I could go to whenever I’m mentally exhausted—as cheesy as that sounds. I’d say, right now it’s up there with the likes of FRIENDS and The Office—top tier, definitely. For me, at least.
Well, I guess that’s it. While 2020 definitely wasn’t the best year and least of the kind we expected (or wanted, so to speak), 2021 has arrived and here’s to hoping it’s going to be a better one.