Over a year (well, nearly 18 months) has passed since I left France for good, after a four-year run. I actually wrote a “Life Update” post almost a year ago, but a lot has changed since then. It’s really incredible just how crazy the shift has been, and I’d like to use this post to speed you up-to-date on what has happened since the last update:
For starters, if I were to summarize 2020 in a nutshell, I would say that it has been “weird.” Also “challenging.” In fact, I don’t think I had such a year that has tested me so much since 2013, when I was still in college. And even what I experienced back then was nowhere near as abundant as what 2020 had in store for me…
If the previous five years abroad had been about gains and triumphs, then 2020 was about loss and humility. I’ve encountered plenty of losses this year, including the death of two close family members, one which was due to COVID-19. I almost lost another close family member in August, but thankfully, it didn’t happen. But because of all of these deaths (and near-deaths) I’ve experienced, it made me realize that not only was I getting older (and everyone else was, too), but also just how short life can be. Sounds cliché, but it is true: you never know what’s going to happen to you every day, so it’s all the more important to put loved ones ahead of yourself and cherish the time you have with them– before it’s too late.
Besides dealing with my family’s health, I was also struggling career-wise. Specifically what I wanted to do with my life. Since returning from France, I was more-or-less underemployed for most of the year, as I worked several, odd jobs that were either part-time or seasonal– and none of which really had opportunities to grow in. I was feeling stagnant in these dead-end jobs, as well as frustrated in my inability to find something stable and permanent. I also got laid off in March due to the pandemic, and I was unemployed for four months. Applying to hundreds of jobs during COVID-19 was quite the uphill battle, as millions of Americans had also been laid off and were competing for the same jobs. I must’ve received rejections at least 95% of the time throughout my job hunt, which wasn’t surprising, but it was still disheartening.
I could go on about other losses I’ve experienced this year (e.g. cancelled trips, romantic breakups), but I won’t. And I could say that 2020 was one of the “worst years” I’ve had since 2013, but I don’t believe that that’s completely true. Yes, I did go through the grinder this year, but despite the hardships, I’ve found myself surprisingly calm throughout much of it. While I was devastated with the deaths and unemployment, I ended up picking myself up at the end of day and continuing on with life. I acknowledged the sadness, but I also didn’t let it engulf me from my own life: I knew that it would’ve been a disservice to the family members who’d passed away if I didn’t continue to enjoy life for them, to keep living despite it all.
It’s funny. If you were to look at me around this time last year, you’d find a slightly-different individual. Back then, I was still angry, bitter, and jaded; I wasn’t pleasant to be around. I still harbor those sentiments today, but significantly-less so: I think after going through so much crap this year, there’s no point to complain about the things– big and/or small— that get thrown at you. I am a firm believer in that you’re in control of how you respond to events than letting them overwhelm you. Sure, it’s okay to pity yourself for a bit, but eventually, you’ll have to dust yourself off and try again…
…and this mindset has worked. And things have gotten better. I ended up securing a full-time government job in August which is stable and permanent. The process was arduous and time-consuming, but I’m incredibly-blessed that I managed to get it, especially during a pandemic. I’m liking it so far; I have a full year of probation to get through before I officially “pass” and am more-or-less set in the public sector, but I plan to work hard and do my darndest to reach that goal. And from there, I can move up and through different government sectors to discover which department is suited for me. Plus, that pension is gold.
In many ways, I’m very grateful for the challenges I’ve encountered this year. If it weren’t for them, I would probably still be unhappy and stuck at my old, part-time job. I was also really lucky to be at home with my family when the pandemic hit, not just for safety’s sake, but also financially after getting laid off. I had a supportive network of my family and friends, and we kept each other afloat during the most difficult of times. Even political events like Black Lives Matter and the 2020 presidential elections couldn’t shake the strength of the personal ties I had with the immediate people around me.
That said, where do I go from here? For now, I believe I’m quite content with my life– again, I have a stable job and loved ones around me. Not to say that I plan to be complacent, but for the moment, I know that I’ll be riding out the remainder of my twenties with building up my career (at my first “real” job) and, to be honest, settling in Los Angeles. Especially after having such a wild, thrilling time throughout much of my early and mid-twenties in France, I’ve come to that point in my life that I want to settle– and that’s okay. Los Angeles is my home; I can see myself living here in the long run.
And of course, I want to continue traveling once the pandemic subsides, but I no longer want to attempt to make it my primary goal, instead secondary… I want to connect (and reconnect) with friends and acquaintances whom I *sort of* let go during my time abroad, and to keep them close to me. I want to continue experiencing love and heartbreak, as it took me until my late twenties to start dating; I started doing a bit of it on-and-off throughout this year and had a few brief, although not-serious relationships. For the moment, I’m taking a break because of COVID-19 and my job, but I hope that by letting life take its course, I’ll find someone in the end. I am still young; I have the time!
Perhaps I’ll return the following year for another “Life Update” post. To see if I’ve changed tremendously since this post. As for the fact that I’m not traveling at the moment, this blog might be a bit of a struggle to continue with travel-related posts. I do have enough adventures to put out for next year, but maybe afterwards, the theme might change. We’ll have to see, but until then, definitely look out for more travel content in 2021…
A long (and overdue) post this has been, but I thank all of you whom have read until the end. I hope all of you are continuing to stay safe and healthy during the pandemic, and I hope you continue to find the positive moments in your lives despite the challenges. Corny as it sounds, there is still good in this world, and that is what makes life worth living. Take care! ❤