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What has this year taught me so far

Can you believe we’re already into the second half of the year? It’s been a weird one, 2020. Starting off quite well with life in London in January and February, and a quick trip to Paris early March. I wasn’t happy with a few things, so I’d put a plan in place for how to change them and get my first year of graduate life on track.

Then we all know what happens next – a global pandemic that would cause friends to lose jobs, people to be forced to study at home and employees to either work on the frontline or navigate the world of Zoom.

It’s been a challenging few months, but now, July has arrived and I’m back in London and want this half of the year to be much brighter. However, I don’t want to write off a whole 6 months of my life, so I wanted to reflect on it all in this ‘half yearly review’.

Here are a few things I’ve done, learnt about myself and more:

The power of slowing down

It was quite a revelation to us all when we realised that we like to live our lives at about 100 miles per hour, only slowing down when we’re sick, and doing so while rolling our eyes.

Over the last few months, it has been nice to stay home, I must admit, and not have to fill up my diary with plans every single day. Of course, in normal times I can just say no, but I’d not learnt how to do that before now.

At the start of the pandemic, I kept my mind occupied so not to think about everything that was happening, by working overtime, blogging when I wasn’t working, doing online courses and more. It was a few weeks in that I realised I needed to slow down and accept that things were scary in the world and have a little cry about it.

Slowing down and realising that I don’t always have to be busy to be successful is something I will be taking back into the ‘new normal’ (that phrase has quickly become so annoying, like the word ‘unprecedented’ did).

maddie astle - image shows a girl

Being on furlough

Weirdest concept ever. I’ve been on furlough for three full weeks, and now I’m currently on part time furlough on Thursdays and Fridays.

During my first three weeks of furlough, I took the time to really get on with my blogging and complete some courses. It was a nice break from working, and being on 80% pay wasn’t something I could complain about. I hadn’t really taken a break since graduating so it was good to have the time off, but I do worry that the whole concept of furlough has damaged my own perceptions of working.

With all the time in the world to do whatever I wanted (well, within my house at least), I was a bit meh about the concept of going back to work afterwards. Had the pandemic not happened, 9-5 work wouldn’t have been so bad but with a disjointed team, working remotely and other challenges, working 37 hours a week felt impossible at times.

Having been on both sides of working and not-working during this time, I’ve still not made my mind up of what was easiest. Working from home presented its own challenges and made it difficult to stay on top of my workload at times, but then having no routine of work or sense of purpose hit hard too.

We’ll see how this part time furlough goes – a happy medium perhaps?

Feeling lost

There have been lots of times throughout all of this that I’ve really asked myself those big existential questions. About my life, working, the world, money and everything in between.

I started this blog last November because I felt lost. University hadn’t set me up properly for the real world, or so I felt, and it left me feeling confused and alone. I hadn’t really anticipated how I would feel when the entire country and much of the world went into lockdown and my future career prospects were claimed to be destroyed (thank you to every newspaper for shattering our confidence and hopes further).

As you might know, my plans to move into a new flat in London with my friends were put on hold and my boyfriend and I moved back to my family home 100 miles away. It felt pretty bad but looking back, I’ve been able to share a really special time with my family that I would never thought I’d have again when I moved out last July.

I’ve felt pretty lost, alone, stressed, anxious and every other feeling under the sun but it does now seem like things are getting better – and I hope everyone reading this feels the same or at least knows that it will get better soon.

elephant and castle - image shows a view of london eye with a plant and mug in windowsill

Moving back home

I’ve briefly touched on this, but it’s an odd one for a graduate so I wanted to expand more.

I felt quite lucky last year to have not moved back home to my parents house, it felt like I was keeping up the independence that I’d established at university. In the nine months that I lived in my new flat, I did really miss my family so the time spent back at home from March to July was actually really nice.

Moving back home in itself seemed quite simple, exciting even due to the unknown of what was going on in the world. It was moving out this week that seemed harder. I felt like all my old habits and familiarities from when I was a teenager had set in and it was odd to lose those things again.

I am overall really grateful for the time I’ve had with my family, as none of us would have expected to have that time again. I’ve now seen how difficult it is to go from being an independent person at university or after moving out already, to being back home and feeling like you’re relying on family again. It’s just another thing that we’re ill-prepared for as graduates where the conversation should be much louder.

Overall, it does seem like the first half of 2020 has been a good learning curve, despite also being really difficult at times. I’ve been presented with a lot of new challenges, a lot of weird emotions and I have lost quite a bit of confidence and independence but hey, you grow through what you go through.

If anyone has gone through similar things and emotions, I am always here to chat to. I hope your 2020 hasn’t been too difficult and that you can learn from any challenges, but remember to not put too much pressure on yourself – it’s okay to feel sad.

Huge amounts of love to everyone that reads my ramblings and I’m so proud of you for getting through 2020 so far!

If you want to read anymore specific advice about life in your twenties, make sure you check out the rest of my blog.

2 thoughts on “What has this year taught me so far

  1. When I read your posts, I’m always amazed and full of admiration for your maturity and grounding. I wish I’d been as appreciative of family and the simpler things when I was a new graduate.
    I wish you a happy rest of 2020.

    1. Thank you so much that’s honestly so lovely to hear. I try my best to really appreciate the little things, as I am one to get into periods of feeling down and it’s being positive about the tiniest thing that can help me. Thank you – I hope yours is wonderful too.

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