Los Angeles, CA

2020 Started and Finished With Uncertainty — Yet I’m Still Excited for the Holidays

T.S. Lowry

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Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash

Four walls perpetually surround you. You live inside your head 24/7. You can’t focus under petrifying uncertainty. Nervousness creeps in and tries to slow dance with your anxiety.

2020 has been a nightmare—and I’m not talking about the pandemic. Described above is the everyday life of a writer. Or, better yet, any creative profession that requires someone to whip up something out of thin air 365 days a year.

During a year when so much has been taken away and people can’t agree on anything, here’s something everyone can cheers to: We’re ready to move on from 2020. Entering this new decade, no one could have guessed that sitting in leather seats, eating popcorn, and watching a movie at a theater would be stripped away. Many of us can’t even see our families. Sure, some people can no longer handle the crippling judgment during a supposed festive meal, but we at least deserve the option to decline. 

2020, of course, has taken away so much more than entertainment options as countless people continue to digitally say goodbye to their loved ones. I’m grateful my friends and family have survived corona-scares, but I’m also exhausted from having this conversation day after day, month after month, for what feels like forever now.

‘Tis the damn season, despite how chaotic of a year one might have had, to try to pick up the pieces of the past and look ahead. At the end of the year, just like most people who dream big, I like to reflect on the year that was. I like to focus on what I need to do better once the calendar turns to a fresh page and renewed magic fills the air.

This year’s annual process is a little different. 

It’s hard to dream of a better life when you’re sheltered in place, or whatever our leaders want to call it this week. I’ve had the privilege to follow my dreams and that doesn’t go unnoticed as everyday injustices continue to raise hell on countless Americans. Privilege is not lost on me. I’m not rich, but I’m grateful for what I have and what I can attempt to get.

I’ve spent the better part of this year writing whatever comes to mind, mostly essays about TV shows and movies, in the comfort of my budget-friendly North Hollywood apartment. In terms of my life up until this point? I left it all on the page in an essay I wrote in homage to my twenties as I approached a new decade and made the hesitant turn to thirty in November. I’m tired of reflecting. I’m tired of saying things will get better.

But alas, I used the pandemic to improve. I quit content writing and morphed into a full-time pop culture writer. Full-time, in this sense, doesn’t mean I’m making bank; it means I write about TV and movies during my working hours for a living. I successfully pitched a dream publication. I lost weight. I got my drinking under control, although that can always change. And I missed my friends and family members for every minute of it.

All these improvements, yet I’m no perfect product.

I’m a bona fide sass-ball who lives in a self-made bubble consisting of year-round Christmas music and rom-coms on repeat.

But I know who I am: a work-in-progress who’s not afraid to like what he likes. A person who doesn’t want kids despite acting like one. A man who doesn’t desire marriage or a partner yet isn’t asexual. I’ve been called a hot mess because of drunken Snapchats and gay more times than I care to remember because being single around age 30 somehow makes a person not straight. But I’m lucky enough to be comfortable with who I am and not let that bother me. I choose to be single. I’m not gay. And, well, I deleted Snapchat.

Again, this time and space are for reflection.

In a perfect scenario, my good writing fortune will continue into 2021 and beyond. I’ve worked my ass off to get to where I am, having sunk tens of thousands of dollars on two writing degrees and crafting perfectly splendid sentences for countless companies. In 2021, I hope to successfully pitch more reputable publications. Maybe an article, at long last, will go viral and I can shower in its royalties? A person can dream.

Because the most frustrating part about a writing career is that you always have to be on — you’re only as good as your last article. And after you pour your heart and soul out onto the blank page and tap publish for everyone to see and judge, you have to move on to the next one. Rinse. Repeat. Try not to go insane or piss off too many family members (the material has to come from somewhere!). Oh, and also try not to be too envious of more talented writers, which is damn near impossible.

But I continue to trudge along and pull a burdensome bag of hope.

I keep telling myself that, since I’m asthmatic, I’ll get the coronavirus vaccine sometime in January or February and visit my family shortly after. I haven’t seen my mom and brother in almost a year and my dad in over a year, yet I count my blessings because I still have the opportunity to one day see them again.

2020 is a weird year because it’s a shared nightmare. In the self-help world we live in, we’re supposed to paddle our optimistic boats through failure, but that’s harder to navigate this year because there’s no escape. Or end. We weren’t supposed to endure this madness for this long. But here we are. Unlike most problems, there’s not a damn thing we can do about this — it’s something we have to accept and live with until one day we hopefully don’t have to anymore.

Our futures are still lingering in uncertainty.

This year, I’m spending the holidays with my roommate, his four-legged fur child, and our neighbor. In previous years, this would be welcoming news because every holiday up until 2020 has been a decision: Do I visit my dad in Indiana or my mom in Colorado? For the first time in years, I don’t have to make a choice.

I’m blessed that I’m not spending this year alone and that I also get to save money on plane tickets. I’m also grateful that, against all odds, I’ve navigated this pandemic mostly untouched. Although, there have been many family scares, including ones that involved the original Capital C (Cancer) before Covid wrecked all of our lives. I have the privilege to work from home, a life I’ve worked very hard to get. I still have many family members who have to show up to work in person every day because they’re considered “essential.” They forever will be to me. Every morning I pray to whoever’s willing to listen to keep them safe; and every evening when a new scare arises, I crumble because there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.

I’m still somehow optimistic about 2021 because it will hopefully give back what I took for granted all this time: the freedom to go out and make mistakes, and the ability to not fear stepping out the front door. My writing career will end the year on a more stable note than it has in previous years. I’m constantly learning how to be a better human as I shuffle through my baggage and greatest hits. I look forward to showing a post-pandemic world my new tricks. Mostly, I’m excited to go out and do something.

Life is weird.

Last year around this time, as I sunk into a sofa chair at my mom’s house, I couldn’t fully embrace the season. I wanted to quit content writing. I wondered how in the hell I’d pay for rent... not to mention a ticket back to Los Angeles. Fast forward to this holiday season and I don’t want to write despite enjoying my pop culture writing journey and making a passable living. I have rent covered yet want nothing more than to lounge around at my mom’s house during the days leading up to Santa’s arrival. As I get older, I wonder where in the hell all the time went. 

2019 ended with so much promise in my personal life and no hope in my professional one. I was on the verge of quitting writing. 2020 flipped my script. I don’t know the next time I’ll see my friends or family, yet I have a sense of purpose (again).

I’m lucky for the things I have, especially when it comes to my relationships. But I’d like to have just one year when I don’t have to worry about money as much and can keep a healthy social life intact. Juggling the two isn’t easy. Since moving to California, I haven’t been able to strike a balance between having money to do things and things to do. And I don’t want a lot. I just want to write about what I want to write about, and I want enough money to do things and... well, have things to do.

I feel like I’m writing the same thing over and over again and having the same conversations with my family: 2020 sucks... I can’t believe we’re still dealing with this bullshit in December. 

But during the rest of this holiday season, I’ll eat, drink, and be merry in my little bubble.

#nbholidaycheer

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Just a guy who likes to cruise the aisles at the local 7-Eleven

Los Angeles, CA
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