2020: Year in Review

charlotte-alone-at-train-station

I honestly can’t quite believe it’s time for the year in review already! Typically this task is quite joyous as it gives me an excuse to plunge back through the archives and remember all that I got up to throughout the year. This year, of course – things will be quite limited. It may even be our shortest ‘Year in Review’ yet.

As I typically do, I had a quick look back at my last ‘Year in Review’ to get me going writing this year’s, and found this smoking gun concluding the blog post: 

‘…I decided, that 2020 is going to be an excellent year. I have also told many loved ones that 2020 will be our collective #BestYearYet. It’s a hashtag so of course, it must be true. I talk a little more about it here, and I for one am very excited. Do you buy it? Are you joining me? Looking forward to that ‘Year in Review’ already, I think it’s going to be a doozy!’

foolish Charlotte in ‘2019: Year in Review’

Goodness gracious, how wrong can one person be? That said, I never could have imagined what would transpire over the following 12 months. Who could have? *sigh* Without further ado – let’s get on with it.

January

Property hunting was still very much a thing at the top of the year but, spoiler alert, nothing came to fruition. I took my first trip to the Dominican Republic for my 27th birthday. Whilst the weather wasn’t peak sun, and it was practically as cloudy as it was back home, I was still happy to be in the warmer climate taking some much-needed R & R.

There was a swelling of feelings on this trip and throughout the days that followed. I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time, and I can’t say that I entirely can now. I think there was a tinge of sadness that came with knowing I had hit another milestone without physically seeing any progression in my life from the year before. I had none of the trappings of success I perceived that a 27 year ‘should have’. Maybe I felt I didn’t have the right to celebrate as I hadn’t achieved anything.

On that somber note, here’s some pretty pictures I took on the trip!

  • charlotte-with-birthday-balloons-on-bed
  • palm tree in dominican republic

February

After weeks of funk, I felt happiness begin again ironically at the JoBros aptly named reunion concert. If you’ve been around the blog for a while. You know I love a good concert and truly believe they have restorative powers. This one, in particular, felt so special as the setlist brought so much nostalgia. It transported me back to my youth, how wide-eyed and hopeful I was when things were seemingly so much simpler. The fact that we got upgraded last minute into a private suite surely did not hurt the experience either! I loved every second of it.

After that, it was like I had a new lease of life. The rest of the month had to be one of my busiest. In unusual fashion I was out most nights after work. If I wasn’t at the gym, I was viewing property, at a talk, an event, or meeting friends.

I went to my first Naija Party, volunteered at a Women in Tech event, spent a lot of time at my friend’s amazing WeWork office, attended a talk on money management which I’m still reaping the benefits of today. I went on to spontaneously buy front row tickets to the Prince of Egypt which was PHENOMENAL, saw Cascada (another nostalgia hit) and had the most delicious and probably fanciest bottomless brunch yet at Jones and Sons!

March

March brought even more excitement in the way of extra-curriculars. I continued my barrage of being out on the town, as the city slowly began to shut down around me due to Coronavirus. It was easily the most bizarre experience I’ve ever had. I laughed it off at the time, but now looking back on the pictures I’m not even sure how my normal routine continued uninterrupted for so long. Heading into the office, with the streets practically empty. Getting on my usually packed-like-a-sardine-train all by myself. Swiping lunch at discount prices as there was simply no one else in the city to buy it.

The end of this month saw my routine, and life as I knew it, completely change.

The commuters dream. Truly my pick of the seats!
  • charlotte-alone-at-train-station
  • empty-london-bridge-train-station
Never in my life have I seen London Bridge so barren

April

I started out strong in the ‘making the most of it’ efforts at the beginning of quarantine. I got straight to work with home workouts, healthy eating and sprucing up my bedroom in which I was going to be spending A LOT more time.

I took daily walks around the block each morning before work, and through my local park at lunch time to simulate the activity I would typically do in my work day. This went a long way to keep me fresh, and on track during my office hours.

Care and support for keyworkers was at an all-time high this month which saw our household receiving a lot of food as a thank you. My waistline couldn’t fight this, despite how many steps a day I did!

May

I continued working out intermittently, but my diet was for sure off the rails. I sought solace from the terror on the news in comfort foods and the sun as it got progressively warmer. After months cooped up in the flat, I at times was envious of those who could work in their gardens and on their balconies. I eventually started using the green that surrounded our apartment building in a way it was for sure not intended to be used! This definitely solidified outdoor space being a non-negotiable in the property hunt.

I also kept decorating and fostered life in plants. It felt good to have something to check on each day. I honestly looked forward to waking up each morning to see how my seedlings were getting on. After Laura mentioned propagation – it was a wrap. My plant mom levels hit a new high. Before long my windowsills were covered in shot glasses breeding new life.

seedlings emerging from white pot on window sill

I made a concerted effort with my blog around this time and took advantage of video calls with friends, and my whatsapp response rates were at an all-time high.

June

I stepped my walking game up a gear to take part in the #DingaStepChallenge. I scaled from 10,000 steps a day all the way up to 20,000 a day over the course of the month and even got a shout out from the queen herself.

I re-twisted my hair for the first time in months. My intention had been not to retwist for the entirety of lockdown, but by June I could see that nothing was really changing and my tangled regrowth was really starting to get out of hand.

I had my first IRL meet up with a friend, which was one of maybe 5 had this year since March. It was wonderful to see a friendly friend without any lag, or glitching. Hilariously enough, by that stage of the year – it felt surreal.

The resurgence of the #BlackLivesMatter movement shook me and the world.

July

I made my first corndog. That was a huge highlight. I re-watched the entirety of Gilmore Girls – all 7 seasons! And then I ask myself why I haven’t achieved anything! I re-started #100DaysofCode. The 2nd of 3 attempts this year. I fell off this particular horse several times which probably should have been a sign to me. I like to think of the fact that I kept getting back on as determination as opposed to foolhardieness.

I also started capturing footage for lockdown vlogs which have STILL yet to see the light of day. If I had a penny for all the random vlog footage I had on my phone and computer – wow, in the words of Maren Morris – ‘boy, I’d be rich!

August

Most efforts this month went into planning for my mum’s birthday. The year had already been so tough and she had worked tirelessly. I tried to pull out all the stops to give her a special lockdown day.

September

September brought another IRL reunion, this time with friends I hadn’t seen in months and years respectively. I started the day with an outdoor breakfast, which wasn’t as awful as I had thought it would be. Before moving onto a London-wide scavenger hunt, which was equally more fun than I thought it would be.

I was featured in Elle Decoration magazine which was pretty crazy, and set off a new round of inspiration and also imposter syndrome within me. I wanted to live up to such a nod as a ‘Designer to Watch’, but felt I really wasn’t at that point in time. It was a conflicted period.

In a final straw moment, once it was sanctioned that the UK were permitted to travel without explicit reasons to do so I started looking for a place I could retreat to. The thought being to clear my head, gain some perspective and get some sun. After some research, I settled on Barbados. This being my first truly solo trip, I wanted to go somewhere that I knew and would feel comfortable, especially amidst all of the fall out following the events of June.

Despite the relaxing of travel rules, it was still risky territory with restrictions and the corona situation changing daily. After mentioning my plans to a couple of friends, I suddenly had travel buddies, and the ‘Operation Barbados’ spreadsheet was born.

October

A month of bliss, where for a few weeks things felt normal again even though they were, of course, very far from normal. I wasn’t as anxious. My outlook wasn’t as bleak, and it seemed again like anything was possible.

As time came to depart the island, I have genuinely never been so sad to leave anywhere. As I flew home to the UK, the fire burned within me to get back as soon as possible.

charlotte-laughing-in-sea

November

November saw this revitalized spirit quickly crushed once again by work and the UK weather. Rejection of my input, triggered me to target my energies into my own output. I got to work revamping my online portfolio and persona with thoughts I had been sitting on for some time.

I published my first proper YouTube video actually featuring me, overhauled my Instagram and got to work planning for a collaborative virtual Sip and Paint event with Copper and Mauve. This was as nerve-wracking as it was exhilarating and challenging! I was overwhelmed by the support received from friends and family and excited for the development of the project.

In getting my own output actualized I had to let go of my perfectionism to get things completed as quickly as they needed to be done for a Decemeber launch. Working like this ended up being pretty liberating as I didn’t have the luxury of time to be as hard on my output as I normally would be. I hope to keep this up going forward.

December

The last month of the year. I was distressed it had arrived so soon, but was also happy to be merry and have Christmas tunes and movies to look forward to. One of my closest friends got married! I was quite devastated because I couldn’t be there, but I was happy to have the chance to watch online and be part of the day by designing her wedding stationery.

I hosted the Sip and Paint that had been so long in the making! It was crazy. As soon as I finished the first it was time to start thinking about the next. I shot so much footage around the event and really have to compile it to remember all the feels of this time.

I had several rounds of Christmas drinks, my spirits lifted infinitely by the approaching of Xmas. I love Christmas so much.

Our typical little family Christmas was able to go ahead even with the Tier 4 restrictions. I took a real break over the period and watched a billion shows and movies which was wildly indulgent. I thought about the more productive things I could have been doing and promptly ignored them opting for a glass of wine instead. It had been a long long year.


In conclusion, what can I even say about this year? It definitely turned out to be a doozy, but not in the way that I had predicted at the end of last year.

I have definitely come out of this year ever more grateful than I entered it. I’m so thankful for my health and that of my family and friends and pray may that long continue as it seems the hold of COVID-19 is far from loosening.

Whilst the big 2-8 is fast approaching and I’m still virtually in the same position I was at the top of the year I am not going to let this fluster me and my current outlook. I have seen what I can accomplish when I focus. In the upcoming year, I need to keep up this momentum and ethic to get to where I want to be.

I’ll be making 0 grand statements for 2021, as I can see where they got me and the earth last year. All that pressure on 2020 at the start of a new decade saw the year implode. For next year, my one wish is that it is less awful for the world than this one. That’s it. That’s the wish.

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Charlotte Gray
Charlotte Gray

Thanks for spending some time Up and Away with me!

I’m writing here to keep track of not only my travels to new places, but also my daily journeys through learning, loving and life.

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