2020: So That Happened.
Global pandemic and year-long lockdown aside, I had a pretty great year so let’s get into it.
The start of the year was a very in-limbo space for me. I had accepted a relocation job offer the previous year and I was waiting for my visa to be processed. Problem was, I’d sent in my application since November and, by January, it still hadn’t reached the embassy.
So yeah, things weren’t looking great. Around that time, I had another amazing company reach out to me and offer a very lucrative offer. Problem was, they wanted me to work out of Nigeria. Since I already had my head in the japa zone, this wouldn’t have been my preferred choice but then again, my visa application was still AWOL and I’d already been unemployed for 10 months (I had to quit my job to focus on school full time) so I was like “Wo, lemme just do and go”.
Only for me to hear back from the embassy that they’d received my application at the end of January, literally the day before I was supposed to start with the new company. And I was like “Of fricking course.”
Anyhoo, two weeks later, my application had been processed and I was packing my bags.
I moved to Lithuania in the middle of February and started working with Telesoftas as a front end developer.
I also had my best friend (who I hadn’t seen in 6 years, cause she lived on another continent) visit me for a week and what a fabulous time that was.
February was a really fun month for me because I got to move to a new country, enjoy living on my own for the first time and create lots of new experiences.
I was supposed to speak at a couple of conferences that I ended up missing because my flight from Nigeria was rescheduled but I thought “No biggie, there’ll be other conferences so I can just travel for those”. (Narrator voice: If only she knew.)
I spent the beginning of March mostly getting used to my new job and trying to settle into Lithuania quickly. There were parties and networking events and onboarding activities and I was just having a grand old time. I was loving living alone. I’d do yoga every morning, cook whatever I wanted to eat or experiment with recipes I’d find online, had a 15-minute commute to work, grab lunch with my coworkers, get back home before 6 and have the rest of the evening to myself. I even started attending pole dancing classes at a studio near my apartment.
And then the pandemic started.
In the 3rd week of March, we received a company-wide email saying we’d need to work from home for the next two weeks. And I was like “Yay, I’ll get to work remotely, that’s great!” (Narrator voice: If only she knew).
I had quite a number of conferences lined up for April all in different countries, so I was rather looking forward to this month. Of course, it didn’t take long till I started receiving a lot of ‘Dear Speaker, due to recent events…’ emails either cancelling or postponing those conferences.
The conferences that weren’t cancelled or rescheduled moved to the virtual space and I spoke at five of those in April.
April was a quiet month for me, I mostly stayed in and indulged in a lot of self-care activities like reading manga, watching Netflix and laughing at quarantine memes.
We’d received more emails about the quarantine being extended to the first week of April, then the middle of April, and then the end of April.
May made it about two months we’d been in lockdown and I started getting really into skincare and hair care products. I think I just liked the dopamine rush of ordering products online and getting to open them when they arrived.
Something I always wanted to do once I had my own apartment was getting a cat. Then, I ended up catsitting for a friend and I realized that, while I love cats and think they’re most the adorable things, I simply do not have the patience to actually live with one (for obvious reasons, I’m not a fan of something barrelling into my face at 3 am).
Towards the end of May, the lockdown in Lithuania was lifted and I got to go on a girls’ trip to another city with my friends.
I spoke at a couple more conferences and received some more event cancellation emails.
June to August
June brought about summer and the dip in coronavirus cases so we could really start going out. I joined a book club, went to museums and art galleries, visited the countryside, shopped at actual stores and did a whole bunch of sightseeing.
I also travelled to different parts of Lithuania on a solo trip.
I spoke at four more online conferences from June to August and got to travel to Latvia for an on-site conference.
Something interesting I noticed was that I started applying less and getting invited more for conferences. When I first started speaking, I’d have to fill out a CFP or reach out to an organizer but now I’d be receiving emails saying they say my talk at so-and-so and they would love me to have at their event. Ngl, it was some pretty sweet validation.
September to November
September was absolutely brilliant because my partner was finally able to visit me after 9 months of long-distance, thanks to lockdown restrictions being lifted.
There were many activities planned at work, including a summer camping trip and team-based work-cation. I went kayaking for the first time and realized that I hate kayaking.
At the beginning of October, I found out I had coronavirus and I was like “Well damn.” The symptoms lasted for about a week and it was horrible. But then I got over it without any longlasting effects so that was that. After I’d gotten cleared, I got to visit my partner in the UK and stayed there for about a week.
In November, I had my contract extended at work and processed my residential permit to remain in Lithuania. I spent this month in transit between Lithuania and the UK.
I spoke at 13 online conferences from September to November.
I spent the entire month of December living with my partner in London and it’s been one of the more enlightening months for me, mostly because I didn’t think I could stand living with another human being after having lived by myself but look at me now.
I also turned 23 and had a rather festive Christmas celebration.
A collection of numbers for the end of the year
And now here we are, the last day of 2020. I expected I’d have a wildly different New Year’s Eve celebration from the usual crossover service but lol plans change. I’ll spend what’s left of this year opening the rest of my Christmas presents, drinking and eating and appreciating what I have.
I’ll end this review with an excerpt from the letter I wrote to myself at the end of last year.
I think instead of predicting the year, I’ll just ask you how it went? Did we have a good year? When did we travel to Lithuania? How many other countries did we visit? How many conferences did we speak at? What hair do you have on now? What are you into now? Still reading webtoons? Have we met any interesting people this year? What’s the most surprising thing that happened this year? What’s your clothing style like these days? What song are you listening to? What was our favorite movie of the year? What was the best month for you? What was the most memorable night for you? What’s one thing you did that you never thought you would do? Did you meet anyone famous? Are you happy? Are you sad? Do we still have our streaks? Do you have any regrets? Are you happy? What’s making you happy? I hope you are. If you get anything from this year, I hope it’s happiness.
Here’s to 2021 :D