2020. What the hell was that?
It went slow and fast and was a real rollercoaster. I missed so much. We all did. Reflecting on the year that was can be hard – have you achieved everything you set out to? Maybe not. But you got through – you survived a year like no other – and that is a huge achievement.
As I write this, Covid cases are increasing again, throwing so many plans into disarray. I’m thinking of everyone who feels stressed, sad and scared now. It’s really shit.
The year started grimly – it felt like half of Australia was on fire. Scenes of families fleeing their homes juxtapositioned next to Sydney’s fireworks devastated me. I wondered how some people could celebrate when so many others had lost everything.
At the start of the year, my calendar was full with work engagements. I had planned to save for a deposit on our first home with my earnings. I was looking forward to a book launch in June. Lots of travel, including overseas in July. And then, right after speaking at the Sydney Opera House – where the Ruby Princess was docked – everything changed. My calendar was wiped clear. Everyone seemed to be impacted.
I lost count of how many weeks since my world turned upside down in about July. At last count – on 23 December – I worked almost entirely from home for nine months and one week – apart from four days where I went to someone else’s house to work; and those two hours back in the Melbourne Fringe Office.
For a while all the days of the week were the same – at home, working everyday as I feared I’d never work again. Adam could go out to work while I stayed home and that was hard. I had to stop working every day, and do leisure things on the weekends, for my sanity’s sake. My sleep went out the window and it’s only just getting on track, nine months later.
And while I’ve been able to carry on life in a changed way through Covid lockdowns, many of my friends have struggled immensely. Disabled people found it really tough with further isolation, a lack of protective equipment, the cessation of essential services like cleaning and NDIS provisions, and a prevalence of ableist attitudes implying disabled people’s lives aren’t valuable . Friends have had to uproot their lives to return to their home states. They’ve experienced job loss, financial insecurity, mental illness and many other challenges. We mustn’t ever forget the way this year has impacted those already facing barriers.
I hope that we move forward with greater welfare support for those who most need it, and greater job security for casual and freelance workers. If this year has taught us anything, it’s that the unexpected can hit us hard, and we need a safety net for everyone.
However, despite some really long, dark months, a lot of uncertainty and missing life as I was used to, I enjoyed the slower life that 2020 forced us to have. I hope a little of that continues. I enjoyed staying in and cooking. I enjoyed walking most days and smelling and photographing the flowers. I loved getting immersed in audiobooks (I’ve read 100 books this year!). I’ve had lovely times with friends – especially when we were able to come together again. I was conscious of supporting small businesses – online shopping was my thing! I loved doing more writing projects and doing some exciting work like radio and online events and media. I had fun with creating outfits! I tried new things – rollerskating and starting an online book club are two new things I’m proud of! Growing Up Disabled in Australia is a real actual book that will be out in February 2021! And I really feel Adam and my relationship has strengthened.
Those outside of Melbourne won’t know how hard things were. How isolating and lonely it was; the strangeness of seeing empty streets and supermarkets depleted of essentials. I tell my parents in country NSW, and my interstate friends, about how we wore masks everywhere for months – we still are; how trains were deserted; and it all seeming never-ending. They’ll never know how it felt to suddenly have work stop – for months on end. IpBut also, they’ll never know the community spirit – neighbours getting to know each other and dropping around food; chatting to essential workers at the supermarket and chemist; meeting a friend who lived nearby for an hour of outdoor exercise. How my work colleagues have been so amazing – getting two festivals up being so considerate of each other. And how everyone worked so hard so that Covid numbers could reduce, and so we can be together again – carefully.
As we close the door on 2020, I’m worried we are pinning all our hopes on 2021. It won’t be different to or better than 2020 if we don’t work together. Covid-19 doesn’t work to a calendar. Of course we must continue to take precautions to prevent the spread of Covid-19, because the pandemic isn’t over just because you’re over it. We must also ensure events are accessible – both IRL and online; flexible work arrangements need to still remain; and that we treat others with kindness and respect; and that we continue to call out the injustices and discrimination faced by so many, and work to create positive change for all.
Here’s to a new year! Be safe, be kind.
And thank you for your support this year. It’s been wonderful.
Heres a photo of me on the last day of the year – tired and unsure of what’s next, but also happy. I made it.
Has my work helped you this year? Has it made you think or will you use it in your work or school? Please consider buying me a drink to say thanks.