When I started this blog last year, I had expected to give it so much more. Like all other plans for 2020, it didn’t happen. A few times, I started to write things. I dabbled with the thoughts below but was not planning on posting them. I changed my mind.
A year of screens
This was a year of screens. Socialization happened almost entirely through screens for the first time in history. What is this doing to us? For me, it happened mostly with people I’ve never met in person. Each interaction brought the added distraction of seeing my own face on the screen. At first, it was alarming. I looked so different from those I spend most of my time around. At first, I felt like an other. I still do. I didn’t like it. I still don’t. Seeing my own face all day… it’s an unnatural observance of how I interact with others. I’ve learned how few facial expressions I make. How still I am. I smile, but that’s it. My eyebrows don’t move. My eyes stay focused and don’t often blink compared to the other faces on the screen. Overall, my face stays very still. I am still. I learned that about myself. I wonder if other people notice or if they’re busy studying their own faces. I wonder if they feel like an other in their own way, some way that hasn’t occurred to me. Next year, if all this passes, perhaps I’ll get to meet my peers in person… see what people are like in a real setting, free from the screens and cameras.
The screens are still here though. I’m so tired of them. I want to meet people, to see people, to feel like life still exists. I can’t turn off the screens. The faces on the screens are in my head so often. How do I push them away?
A year of habits
How we spend our time makes us who we are. Nothing defines who we are moreso than our daily habits. That reads like the leadoff to a LinkedIn article, but I found the truth in it this year.
I write, so I am a writer. It took a long time to gain the confidence to say that. Before, I thought I needed credentials to call myself a writer. But credentials don’t make someone a writer… writing does. Interestingly, this year, I made the most strides in my writing career thus far. I signed with an agent, worked on edits with a publishing professional, and am now having my work submitted to publishing houses by my agency. Yes, it was an incredible year for literary milestones. I adore my agent and have been working towards this goal for years. However, I also felt less like a writer than in years past. Why? Because I spent less time writing.
For the last two years, I have studied another language almost every day. I studied hard and immersed myself in the language. I studied this morning before work. Over coffee, I learned ten new words. I often type messages on my phone in the alphabet, I write sentences, I read books, listen to music, watch tv shows, and interact on social media all in my target language. What does that make me? At the very least, it has made me someone who can have basic conversations in that language. Maybe one day, it will lead to more. Perhaps it will open doors. Until then, and if I ever want to become truly bilingual, I’ll have to keep studying everyday. Every single day.
I formed my share of bad habits as well. Those are so much harder to break. But every time, I had to pull myself out. Or else, I’d become someone I don’t want to be.
A year free from influence
With the absence of real socialization, the absence of normal conversation and standard social presence, the influence of society disappeared. We were given the unique opportunity to be only ourselves… because we didn’t see anyone. No one cared what we were doing at home, what we wore or ate, or how we spent our down time. The pressure to socialize went away because the option wasn’t there. I hope to eventually read stories of how people chose to spend their time. The observations they had when the outside world faded away and they were faced with hours of themselves, their homes, and those they’ve come with live with–either through choice or fate. I have no idea what anyone else is doing. I’d like to.
I worked, I studied, I wasted time, wasted away, binged on shows, binged on food, then swung back the other way… maybe too much. I reconnected with some, lost all touch with others, wrote less than I wanted to, read less than I should have, laughed too little, cried for the world, pulled away, then worked again. I hugged my person, counted my blessings, then worked some more. That was my year.
Overall, I have grown closer to my real self. I’ve developed a sort of personal identity that only I am seeing. It feels right. I only hope that once the world is back and I return to it, I’ll continue being this person who is so really, truly me.