2020: year in review

I’ve been planning this post for two weeks and somehow I still managed to miss Jan 1 by four days. But it’s okay! I’m fairly certain I did this kind of post in March one year. That’s when it really starts sinking in for me that it’s a brand spanking new year.

So I wanted to take a minute to reflect on 2020 and celebrate the things I accomplished. I can’t remember what my goals were – besides the standard ones I set that go along the lines of read, write, and be healthy. But I think that’s fine because with the pandemic raging around us, I needed more flexible goals that allowed me to take days off.

Like most years, I struggled a lot with the feeling that I wasn’t being productive enough – writing or studying or working enough – but I’ve also been trying to accept that it doesn’t matter. Our health and our joy matters far more than anything else. I feel lucky that I was able to fly home in March and then take a gap year from college..and now, I’ll tell you about how I spent all that glorious free time!

  • FIRST please note how cute that sloth is.
  • Second, my mental health significantly improved which feels like a pretty big deal considering how rough the past few years have been. On the flip side, I struggled a lot with back pain and I’m still figuring out how to best address that (stretching, physiotherapy, going for walks).
  • I fell in love with a game – Stardew Valley – and spent the first three months of 2020 playing it obsessively! I’m pretty happy with how my farm has turned out but I definitely haven’t unlocked everything in the game yet.
  • I learned how to crochet and made three scarves. I also crocheted a patchwork baby blanket for my Film, Lit, and Media creative project.
  • Started consistently eating healthy and my blood test results proved that it paid off!
  • I didn’t blog as much as I had hoped to but I published four more posts than I did in 2019 (when I disappeared from the blog because first year of uni was A Lot). So ICYMI, I talked about my love for the house on the cerulean sea, shared some writing news & gap year plans, and reviewed five brilliant books I read in 2020 (part 1, part 2). AND I now have 306 followers! I started this blog in 2015 and it has evolved a lot in that time – I used to blog under a different name and URL – but for me, 300 followers is a big milestone and I’m happy that I’ve made it this far.
  • I also completed my Goodreads challenge by reading a total of 123 books or 28,022 pages – including comics, graphic novels, manga, novellas, and audiobooks. And my average rating for 2020 was 4.7/5 stars so I really loved nearly all of the stories I read.
  • I completed my second year of university on track to receive first-class honors during a pandemic.
  • I am really proud of my grades – I struggled a lot with essay writing in my first year at uni but I finally got the hang of critical analysis. Some highlights include getting A+ for both my 3,000 word poetry portfolio and the accompanying reflective essay. I also got an A for my 4,000 word Lit Theory essay which I wrote on The Murderbot Diaries (one of the best SFF novella series I’ve ever read!).
  • Publications wise, this year didn’t go as I had hoped. But I know the writing I did matters just as much if not more. So I had two publications – my poem “In Remembrance” found a home at Rogue Agent in August and my poem “Aftermath” was published in the Literary Lancashire Award Anthology in September because it was shortlisted in the poetry category of the Literary Lancashire Award.
  • And I like to think of this as the year I properly fell back in love with writing and got out of the negative mindset I had developed towards it. I’m especially proud of myself for writing and editing three portfolios (poetry, short fiction, and an excerpt from a novella) for my creative writing degree. The portfolios were a total of 15,000 words after edits!
  • Last month, I also wrote a 13k word outline for a fantasy novel with witches, romance, and dragons. It’s basically a draft zero – the skeleton of a story with scenes, dialogue, and some details about setting. I’ve already started rewriting it as I make changes to the plot to prioritise character development. I’m hoping to write a 70k word first draft based on that outline over the next few months.
  • I wrote an 20,000 word novella in which I invented an entire religion and pantheon of gods. And I don’t have plans to edit it just yet because I want to build my skills up to the point where I can do it justice.
  • I also rewrote an 3,000 word outline for a really personal contemporary novel that I’ve put aside for the time being until I’m ready to work on it again.
  • And lastly, I drafted and edited a handful of short stories and poems – some of which I partly wrote for myself and may not end up publishing.
  • A lot of this happened in short bursts over the course of the year. I spent so much time despairing over the fact that I couldn’t write or I was getting rejections but somehow, I found my way back to the thing I love doing most every time. Plus the four months when I didn’t write at all helped me do better work when I returned.
  • TLDR; I’m still learning to be disciplined, to make time & prioritise writing, to meet realistic deadlines and to understand the craft better but I’m excited to keep learning and writing better stories.
  • The first set of courses I did on Coursera were part of the Python for Everybody Specialization by UMich and then I moved on to Web Design for Everybody and UI/UX Design courses by CalArts. I learned some python, HMTL/CSS, and some JavaScript as well as how to use applications like VS Code, Figma, and Adobe XD. And while these courses really only scratched the surface with what they taught me, they got me interested in coding and design so I started looking into other resources for learning online.
  • I also made myself a Squarespace website to share my portfolio and you can find some of the projects I did in 2020 there. Highlights include designing an app for purchasing luxury chocolate, rebuilding the Google homepage from scratch in HTML and CSS, and building a landing page for a fictional tea company called Brewed in Heaven using HTML, CSS and Bootstrap 4.
  • I started seriously considering pursuing web development as a career…but I haven’t really made up my mind yet. I want to focus on the learning for now.
  • I got my first position as a web designer working with a team of students to design an online learning platform for Project Access, a NGO helping disadvantaged students with college apps. I designed low fidelity wireframes on Figma and built the actual website using Wix.
  • I also started my internship at MAST Education making lesson plans and being an English tutor for young children.

Overall, I’ve finally developed some self confidence in my abilities and I’m taking steps to figure out what I want from life. Also, I hope you guys like the new and quirky blog graphics – I’ve been experimenting with Canva Premium a lot thanks to the student discount and I’m pleased with the results.

so what’s next?

  • Duolingo. I’m hoping to complete the full tree for Chinese! I started studying Mandarin in third grade at school (I live in Hong Kong) but since I graduated from high school, I haven’t read or written anything in Mandarin. I just want to make sure I don’t forget everything I learned and I’m hoping I’ll also be able to find time to study it in more depth using other resources. Another language goal is to learn Japanese.
  • Coding bootcamps on Udemy.
  • Write the first draft of my fantasy novel (the one with dragons, witches & romance).
  • Redesign my Squarespace website.

i would love to hear about your highs & lows from 2020. and what is something you’re looking forward to in the new year? do you have resolutions or goals you want to accomplish?


26 thoughts on “2020: year in review

  1. Happy New Year Rachana! 💕 This post is incredibly inspiring; congratulations on so many achievements, whether they be in the academic fiels or even on your blog; 300 followers IS a milestone and you deserve everything! Thank you for sharing this with Etats-Unis and I really admire everything you’ve accomplished in the past year! May this one be just as good – even better, for you ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. i love this post so much!! i really enjoyed hearing about all the things that happened for you in 2020. you did so many wonderful writing things, and all your projects sound fantastic wow!! ❤ and i'm happy to hear your mental health improved too — it's the same for me, which makes me feel so strange since everyone else's seemed to suffer 😭 i hope you have a wonderful 2021, and i'm with you on the goal of learning languages!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you may!! appreciate it! ahh you’re so sweet. yeah it’s been a weird year for sure & i’m glad you’re doing better too. honestly maybe it’s just the fact that we’ve all been forced to pay more attention to ourselves and take care of our health?? ah best wishes for 2021 too! and that’s awesome, i hope you accomplish your language learning goals.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s wonderful that you’ve achieved so much with your writing, and it seems like you’ve developed some great ideas. Wishing you all the best this year!

    Also, that sloth is indeed very cute. I also love that cat peeking out from the gift box. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. First off – that Sloth is the freaking cutest thing ever!! 😍

    And second – I’m absolutely in awe of how much you’ve accomplished this year! You should be really proud! I think your feeling of being unproductive is definitely unwarranted, though I understand completely where you’re coming from… I’m such a perfectionist that whatever I do just never seems like enough!

    Though 2020 was actually a pretty successful year for me, too. I finished my final exams that cover most of my university education, and passed with distinction. I started working on my master’s thesis and got my own office. I publicized my previously private blog. Overall, I’m pretty happy with myself, and fingers crossed we’ll both have an even better 2021 (with hopefully less covid)!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know right!! Glad you agree. Thank you so much, that’s very kind of you. ❤ Congrats on passing your exams with a distinction!! That's incredible. I hope your thesis has been going well and it must be helpful having your own office to do work in. That's one of my goals – though a far off one because I'm happy writing at home rn. Best wishes for 2021! And thank you for the thoughtful comment, I appreciate it. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. oh. my. god. that sloth 🥺 AND THAT CAT AND THAT HEDGEHOG AND THAT LLAMA!! omg they’re all so cute!! ❤😭 i also did a course on coursera for math (i think it was stanford’s course on mathematical thinking)… all your WIPs sound so interesting, and if you ever decide to share them, i would love to read them!! congratulations on completing your second year of university, that’s awesome!! (i’m still in my second year of middle school haha!!) here’s to an amazing 2021!! ❤💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ahaha IKR!! i saw them and i was like i have to put them all in one post lol (even if it’s completely unrelated to the content.) wow that stanford course sounds tough but quite interesting. did you enjoy it?
      and thank you! i’m thinking of sharing some excerpts if revisions go well later this year so it’s encouraging to hear that. ❤ ahah that's great! i think i started my first blog when i was in middle school – my best friend inspired me and then the blog just kind of grew with me. take care & have a lovely year, ahaana!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. first off, can i say how much i love the post graphics!! 🙌 i can definitely relate to not feeling productive, especially with lockdown this year, but you’re right, mental health should be a priority! 💖 hoping that 2021 mental health and your back improves ok!! ahh chinese, that’s my mother tongue! wishing you all the best in revising it and also in Japanese!! lovely wrap up rachana!😍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ahh thank you cherelle!! it makes me happy to hear you liked the graphics. ❤ ah it's so cool that chinese is your mother tongue! i really appreciate the encouragement & well wishes. you're so sweet. have an amazing week, cherelle.

      Liked by 1 person

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