Looking Back on 2020

It feels as though I’ve been getting ready for the end of this year since it started. Yes, as I have continued to affirm both here and on social media, there is a lot to be grateful for in 2020.

But, let’s be honest…. sometimes I think I’m saying it over and over to convince myself on those days where I sit staring at a computer screen with nothing to say. It’s been a year of impatiently waiting silently for my creative spirit to come back. And when she didn’t, I had to start improvising and fast.

First and foremost, I have to acknowledge that this post is based on my personal experiences and perspectives of the world. God knows the internet can be a dumpster fire of hate and ignorance on its best of days and I can only imagine how this may be misconstrued.

It’s a blog. I’m not a doctor or a psychologist. I am not a teacher or a front line worker. I am 37 year old man who has lived, lost, and loved a lot in his lifetime. Please calm down before you get riled up about an opinion or statement that may be contrary to yours. I’m not here to fight with anyone anymore.

It’s 2020. I’m exhausted.

I am a creator who had to find the strength to stay positive while I battled my own mental well being, faced my own demons, and isolated myself like we all did. But my “job” relies on creating content people love. Not many of you may understand that about “content creators” or “bloggers” or whatever you want to call us. If I don’t create, I don’t make a living. So it was smile through the pain and hardships, or fail.

That’s the intensity 2020 thrust upon me that remains unseen, and that many of us in this industry felt and continue to feel. I spoke with some many amazing creators and we all said the same thing. Because in an industry meant to help us escape, no one really wants you to be 100% yourself.

Be real, but not too real.

What a fascinating industry we’ve made of ourselves. Some things about this world I love. I love connecting with you. It makes me proud when I get DMs or emails about a blog post like this that touched you because it is very lonely on this side. Speaking and creating into the world in hopes that one person out there feels something after it took so much for me to be honest like this with you. I’m trying to be this beacon of happiness, but yeah. I’ve been pretty sad this year. I miss my family. I miss my friends.

I put on weight. I lost some weight. I dyed my hair. I baked. I drank. I ate. I traveled. I laughed. I cried…. All in this never ending wrestling match with myself when I’m alone. Because this year I was forced to see who I am when no one’s in the room.

Excellent song by Jessie Reyez btw. And we all know that music speaks to my soul when I’m at a loss for words.

The year everything had to change

I am humbled to have been witness to such a year that forced change upon the world. From the socio-political events of the Black Lives Matter message that is still just as important today as it was when George Floyd and Breonna Taylor were murdered, I took away that I personally needed to do much more.

My white privilege, fragility and guilt all of a sudden became very real things that I needed to address. And I’m still addressing. It’s caused a lot of conversation with my family, and some heated moments, but it’s something I have taken very seriously. I’m not just a tone deaf black square on Instagram radio silence in “solidarity” kind of person. I have and will make mistakes, but I’m working on this to be better.

Based solely on the fact that I was born into a Caucasian family, I was oblivious to the struggles those who were born of different ethnic heritages face. And that triggered a series of introspective moments that although challenging have completely changed my perspective of the world. Not to mention the work that I must put in to be anti-racist, and to use this platform to amplify voices that have too long been overlooked. Change is happening, slowly, but one reason why I cringe when someone says “go back to normal” is that we can’t.

We have to be better. Each of us, because personally I am ashamed to say I didn’t do enough for as long as I did.

I take ownership for my mistakes. I used to say I don’t see colour, and every other horrible white privileged statement you can imagine to defend that I wasn’t racist. I’m embarrassed but now I am aware.

I’m lonely and I’m having a hard time

I was recently chatting with Joëlle Anello about end of year blog posts and how much I loved the one she just published. If you aren’t following her adventures as a Mom, I highly recommend you do. And she’s basically the queen of REELS in my opinions. And I have her to thank for this post because I just didn’t know if I had it in me. I’ve felt like my proverbial creative gas tank has been on empty for a long time. And it’s hard to write when it feels like this. So thank you Joëlle for being a good friend to me this year and for making me laugh when I really needed to laugh.

I guess the fact that I’m such a social person is one of the reasons this industry called to me. I loved events and meeting new people. I fed (and still feed) of the idea of always having something to do. But doors closed, businesses shuttered and the world stopped. Yes we live in a golden age of technology but it’s not the same as a hug from a friend when you really need one. I sit in this house all day, creating and trying to connect but all the ways I once had are currently paused and it’s been hard to feel connected.

The fact remains that we need to normalize talking about mental health more. Even as I write this I’m worried about the ramifications of doing so. Emotionally charged content is a red flag for brands. Isn’t that awful to admit. I will lose out on work because I’ve been honest today. And I could name a handful of people who will take joy in that too.

I am someone’s hero. I am someone’s villain.

This is one of the hardest things I have learned this year. I always want to be liked. It’s superficial to admit, but here we are. So when I am met with those who actively don’t like me and stand in the way of something I am trying to achieve, I get upset and I can get pretty heated. I’ve burned some bridges when I don’t get what I want and I acknowledge that’s a part of my life and past. I can apologize, and I have, but sometimes you’ve gonna be the villain to someone and nothing in this world you do will change that. Ask some of my exes, I’m sure they’d agree ?

On the flip side of that, this has been the year I’ve rediscovered myself and the things I deserve. I got to see first hand what I could live with and without, and it was kind of refreshing. I’ve met and grown close to a handful of people (albeit virtually) that have been incredibly supportive and have shown me why I love what I do. It all comes down to connection. If you weren’t reading this, I’d be nowhere. This is a space I use to express myself with my writing and to reach you, and for that I am forever grateful.

So as I try to wrap an emotional rollercoaster of a rant above, I think the most important thing I can say to myself is fuck new year’s resolutions and unrealistic ideas of the future this year. I hope I am more kind to myself in the new year and I hope you are too. There’s a long road ahead of us and we will need each other more and more as it goes by.

Yes, it’s been really hard. I’ve been really sad. I’ve changed inside and out, but even after all that, I feel like I know who I am. And one day at a time I’ll keep working on that. There’s a new world for us to create with the humility and lessons we are learning. So maybe after all of this, we will come out ready to finally be better to ourselves, the planet and one another.

I’ll try to remind myself to write more posts like this in 2021 to express what I’m feeling. And should that scare off brands but resonate more with you, that’s all I could ask for and it always has been.

Don’t forget to be kind & laugh a little more this year, and the next!

Daniel Reyes