Each December, I reflect on where I was 12 months ago—and over the last few years I feel like I continue progressing. To presently add to my self-growth? I’ve been living alone during a pandemic. Much more on the novel coronavirus below, but first let me set the scene for what led up to it.
Quick Flashback to 2019 for Context
2019 was a really important year for me. Nothing big happened, necessarily, but there were a slew of little things that added up in a very big way. It was the first time since I can remember that I took care of my mind, body and soul, collectively and consistently, and I felt like I was finally growing into the person I wanted to be.
Each new year, we always say with great hope, Oh, I just know 20– is gonna be the best year ever! And while some years have certainly been rewarding in their own right, it’s been quite some time since I’ve had one of those remarkable best years ever. That is… until 2020, or so I presumptuously thought. And theoretically speaking, it was supposed to be—for everyone. There was the whole 20/20 vision outlook, all the major holidays fell on weekends, it was a new decade, potentially a new president… all that good stuff.
But for me, personally, I spent all of 2019 laying the groundwork for truly a well-deserved best year ever in 2020. Last year was spent in grueling workout classes, eating remarkably well, limiting my alcohol, emanating positive energy and truly being the best version of myself—inside and out. To top it off, on New Year’s Eve day, I announced my plan to launch a T-shirt brand following a fresh trademark for the line.
In the past, I thought time naturally created blessings and opportunities for us. I sat around just waiting for things to happen. In recent years, however (namely 2019), I realized you really did have to work for what you want, and I was putting in the time.
2020 Kicks Off
As I envisioned, 2020 was off to an amazing start. Traditionally speaking, January has been a really strong month for me, regardless of the year. I don’t know if it’s the fresh air or the start to a new year, but I do find my energy more heightened, with opportunities more aptly infiltrating my life during this month. And 2020 was no exception.
Everything was so right up until mid-February, when Joyce, a longtime friend, colleague and mentor to many passed away. While the cause of death was unknown at the time, it was a serious wakeup call to everyone. The partying among myself and everyone I knew went on a massive decline—and for me, personally, I took it as a sign to keep putting in the work and being my best self because we’re not here forever. Losing Joyce left an immense hole in my heart, and in that of so many who she touched throughout years of being such a prominent figure in the media world I’ve been a part of. She was the first person I met when I started working in entertainment reporting.
Her passing in her late ’40s was a reminder that life is short. In the past, I found myself living for other peoples’ approval and caring way too much about what they think. Now, I was finally developing the confidence to just live my life. I stopped focusing on past mistakes, and instead put my efforts into plowing ahead with gratitude, worth and drive.
Little did I know, one month later, everything would change—in a way no one in my lifetime could have predicted. I’ll never forget the day before coronavirus sent everyone into lockdown. I was fresh from visiting my parents in Orange County—at a now-long-gone Souplantation, for that matter. I raced back to L.A. to sneak in one more Hot Pilates class with a friend of mine, oddly looking forward to being forced inside our living spaces later that day. Working from home was a dream for years—who knew it would take a pandemic for my then-employer to understand people can function away from their cubicle (more on that in a bit)!
Quarantine Life Kicks In, as Does My Personal Empowerment Journey
Closing my apartment door behind me for what would go on to be days before even stepping outside for air, I felt amazing. Like, the best I’ve ever felt in my life. I was certainly not at ease with the way of the world and the businesses being affected so abruptly and unexpectedly. But internally, I was incredibly stable. And as the days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into cold, gloomy months, living alone during a pandemic continued to be a positive experience for me. I cooked all of my meals; spent my days working out and writing, as opposed to wasting away with a bottle of wine; I thought about the future and how much promise it held. I was so optimistic and really enjoyed my own company. I never felt bored—I had everything I needed.
I physically didn’t see anyone for a month and a half. I also kept my social Zoom activity to a minimum (so glad I never hopped on that trend), so the virtual hangs were also few and far between. I continued working on myself, working out or walking up my strenuous hill regularly. The lack of regular drinking also helped me maintain a clear head, and I kept myself busy with my full-time job, freelance job and revival of this blog. I became so comfortable with quarantine life that there were points when I firmly said I never need to hang out with anyone again. People asked me time and time again, are you ok? Would the single, social butterfly survive a pandemic, holed-up solo in her one-bedroom apartment? Oh, I was better than ok.
While people lamented over their weight-gain, gluttony and binge-drinking, I just kept my eyes on the prize, assuring myself and others that by the time quarantine were to end (during what was initially predicted to be summertime), I’d come out of this cocoon a butterfly. Heck, even my homemade manis were on point.
While filled with so much hope, confidence and motivation, I began to notice things around me that perhaps weren’t as vivid before. These things were always present, but they never fazed me because I was always fortunately occupied with work and an active social life. Now, however, no matter how content I was in this totally alone predicament, I couldn’t help but think about the couples in my friend group who were able to sneak away on road trips together, or cozy-up on stormy days. During these locked-away months, so many people I knew were getting pregnant, having babies, launching businesses, strengthening their relationships. All the while, I was taking cute mirror selfies and posting my home-cooked meals.
The pandemic has been a strong reminder that I’m single—with no near end in sight. It’s not even to say that I mind being single. But my goodness, it would be nice to have the option otherwise. I went on a few nice dates amid the pandemic (that didn’t lead to anything), but I miss hitting the local spots and letting the vodka-sodas coax me into talking to, like, the literal tree outside. No, but seriously, it was fun getting dolled-up and socializing out and about. Especially right before lockdown, there was a magical energy in the air. Life felt particularly exciting in all aspects, and then—.
What started out empowering, motivating and life-changing slowly spiraled into time that felt wasted in retrospect. Now, by no means was this my fault—it’s just how timing decided to play out. I still maintained a relatively positive disposition, but it was growing tiring.
The motivation to work out from home was lessening by the day. I really miss ClassPass and the structure provided by doing in-person workouts. Cooking all my meals? Ha, forget it! Only drinking on Sundays? Nah, once outdoor dining was reinstated, all bets were off! I previously put so much effort into my life—and while I enjoyed it internally, it would have been nice to experience it with someone else (friend, romantic partner, whoever!).
While I still had a good chunk of the initial confidence left in me, I will say the 24/7 happy-go-lucky mindset of March/April/May/June was dwindling. Happiness dwindling, workouts lessening, sleeping—well, that may as well not even exist.
As the year continued—and especially from the end of August, on—I felt myself growing further and further away from that bright light I associate with who I was earlier in the year. I promised I wouldn’t compare myself to others, but boy was I ever. It was unstoppable. It seemed like everyone I know did something remarkable amid the pandemic. I really thought this would be my time, too. Instead, I could feel my vibrations lowering. I’m really big on vibrations and energy, and when they’re low, they’re low. It can take days to heighten. And it was visible (without being visible) via social media. People can seriously feel your energy behind the screen. My posts lacked the vibrance and excitable engagement that transpired months ago. And I’m not a fake, so I couldn’t just make things seem perfect.
I know I’ve grown as a person through this whole experience. I mean, I was able to enjoy my own company for at least six weeks without seeing a soul, and then plenty of alone time thereafter. I honed in on my cooking skills. I took some cute Instagram pics (priorities, priorities). I stopped standing for toxic behavior in other people. I have a strong head on my shoulders and I know what I want in life and from others. I just wish I could get myself back to the same mindset of months past.
My new lackluster reality was ever-present once fall found its way to the calendar. Traditionally three months of internal butterflies and unconditional bliss was in fact three months of scorching hot weather, sleepless nights and lonely days. There was plenty we were banned from doing this year, thanks to the pandemic—but nothing hit like not gearing up for my 8th annual fall party, not hitting the bars the night before/after Thanksgiving, and not getting dolled-up for holiday parties. The last three months blurred together. Even fall scents gave me a headache this year. I’ve never said that.
Blessing in Disguise
In an unexpected turn of events, I got laid-off from my job in September after more than 4.5 years with the company. Before you feel sorry for me, know that it was a blessing in disguise. Our salaries were already cut by 40% at the very beginning of the pandemic, and I was totally stagnant at this company. Of course you want to leave on your own terms, but screw my pride—I received the news and never looked back. In fact, most of the brands and publicists I worked with prior continued their professional relationships with me immediately as I pivoted over to my blog and freelance job. I felt appreciated, and it made the transition that much easier.
While not the happiest news in financial terms, energetically, this freed up so much space: space to look for a fulfilling new job that makes me feel valued and respected; space to put serious effort into my blog; space to finally launch the T-shirt line I put into existence exactly a year ago. I gave away so much of my energy at this job and got minimal amounts back in return, so when I received the news, that was the instance amid the pandemic when the timing felt so right.
Looking for a new job, however, is a huge challenge. I’m not gonna lie. For all the experience you have, there are 100 people younger than you with far more skills. It’s not easy getting back into the grind of writing cover letters—cover letters! I know, right? Filling out just one job application can sometimes take up to an hour. Having a professional update my resume cost more than $100. But this is part of life, obviously. And I was far too comfortable in my position anyway. This has definitely given me a much-needed rattle.
2020 Reflection, and Transitioning Into the New Year Ahead
Moving forward, I will say this: I’m extremely blessed not to have contracted the virus up to this point. I’m blessed that none of my close friends or family have been severely affected by the virus in any way up to this point. I’m blessed to have a roof over my head (with a beautiful view of the city that helps keep me sane); to have close friends I’ve kept in contact with consistently over the course of the past year; to have a new laptop that’s seriously my go-to and best friend; to have a family who supports my future and believes in endless possibilities for me; to be alone with my own thoughts (and be ok with them); to have launched a small business at the tail-end of the year, with the drive to make it take off in 2021.
I do have many blessings and I don’t take them for granted. That said, it’s only normal to think what if?. I’m sure that’s a thought on a lot of peoples’ minds this year. But there are many things that did happen because of what held me back. My mindset improved tremendously not having to commute to and from work each day. Being home gave me the extra time and energy to focus on more important things than driving. And being let go from my job was the unconventional gift from the universe that I needed. I can only continue doing my best and giving myself the life I deserve, being the person I want to be. I gave this year my all, and I truly have no regrets outside of things that weren’t in my control.
Now, as we embark on a new year, I find myself in a focused headspace. I’m embracing lockdown restrictions and staying in my apartment. I’m back to cooking most of my meals. I can’t remember the last time I stopped in the alcohol aisle at a grocery store. I’m doing daily face masks and lighting winter candles that are putting me in the best mood. I’m doing the best I can. While I’m nowhere near where I was in the heightened month of June, I’m realizing that this year wasn’t a waste, and that everything I took away from it will go into something bigger in time to come.
I think the challenge lies in what’s next. As noted above, January has always been a strong month. It’s full of new energy and opportunity. There are always fun events and a ton of birthday parties. I honestly don’t know what to anticipate this time around, since much of that will be nonexistent. I’m trying to stay positive—ebbs and flows are a part of life—but I’m pretty sure I’ll be watching the ball drop in my head live and direct from my couch this year. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t spend NYE with people who are important to me. It’s always been a really special date for me personally, even though a lot of people hate the holiday.
Ultimately, when I look back on it all, I’m fond of my experience living alone during a pandemic. I feel strengthened from it, and I’m proud of the positive outlook I maintained amid the vast majority of this experience. I kept myself busy and focused. I loved having the time to explore whatever I wanted (whether that be in the kitchen, with makeup, with my writing, with TikTok, with whatever). And while I initially dressed up, oversized sweatshirts and leggings are where I’m at now—and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I can’t say I know where my life is headed next, but energetically speaking, I’m welcoming positivity with open arms.
2021 will be my year. I’m putting that out into the universe!
If you want continue on this path of reflection, click HERE for skyelyfe’s definitive ranking of the 20 best songs of the 2010s.