Think back to January this year. It feels like forever ago. We hugged profusely, touched carelessly and crammed ourselves against strangers in trains, buses and nightclubs. Ewwww.

I always get reflective around this time of year, and usually post something along those lines. But where do you even start in such a year as 2020? So I’m just going to give you some random thoughts and invite you to say ‘same girl, same!’ or ‘WTF I never thought that’, or somewhere in between.

I have thought about it as ‘the gifts that 2020 gave me’. Here goes…

The gift of not being seen in public.

I used to say things like ‘I wear make-up for myself’. Well, months of lockdown showed me just how false this was. Left to my own devices, I wear no makeup, no bra and the same clothes day in, day out (washed sometimes, ok).

I found this period to be a bit of a feminist awakening. I realised how much effort and worry I put into being seen as ‘attractive’ and in defining my value by how I look. I mean, that’s the work that the patriarchy starts doing on us, as soon as we start wearing pink dresses and being told we’re pretty.

It’s only when you get off that merry-go-round that you realise how much time and money and headspace it takes up.

Now don’t get me wrong, I haven’t grown out my underarm hair and started wearing Crocs in public (all power to you if you have though). But I have simplified the shit out of my beauty and make-up routine. I also levelled up my skincare game, as this popular post outlined. And I just reduced the amount of fucks I give about how I look. It’s been great and relaxing and empowering.

The gift of not spending money.

I can’t believe how much money you don’t spend when you don’t leave the house. And I didn’t really fall into the online shopping rabbit-hole because frankly, I couldn’t think of anything to buy. I don’t need clothes to go out, I don’t need make-up, my 1-bedroom apartment is already full. Ok, maybe I spent a bit on alcohol, but even then it was at-home prices, not bar prices.

What did I do with all this extra cash? Invested it, duh. Saved some more in my cash buffer aka mortgage redraw, and then set up an account with Stockspot (not an endorsement – I just like their style and their ethical investing option). I also chucked some money in my Raiz account. Why both? I guess I just have commitment issues. Oh, and I added a chunk to my superannuation to make up for the few months I didn’t work for an employer who made contributions. I know, I’m a nerd.

Anyway, now I have my passive investments humming, my mortgage is ticking along and I’m getting a bit bored. So, I’m thinking about picking some stocks and investing directly next. I’m generally of the view that this is best left to professionals and algorithms. But honestly, I just feel like playing around and seeing what happens. I would only do this with surplus cash I can afford to play with, so don’t worry, I’m not going bet my entire net worth on shorting Afterpay.

The gift of quality time.

I was really lucky to spend a chunk of lockdown with each of my (divorced) parents and their respective partners. It was so bloody nice – when do you normally get that kind of quality time as an adult? I also got to see many of my friends in the more relaxed and intimate setting of our homes. And as per the trend of 2020, I had some great video calls and catch-ups with people I probably wouldn’t have got time to see otherwise.

If there’s one thing this year has taught us (in a very aggressive way), it’s to appreciate what we have. Firstly, we realised it can all be taken away in a moment – jobs, health, freedom of movement etc.

Then we realised that when the world is a dumpster fire of craziness, the things that matter are family, friends, colleagues, neighbours and the people in our community. When we strip away fancy restaurants, party frocks, office politics and all that kind of stuff, we realise that it’s not that complicated. It’s all about the people we love and care for. That, and homemade bread.

The gift of not one, but two, surprise Taylor Swift albums.

As if folklore wasn’t already a sublime and generous gift to us, she gives us a Christmas present and drops evermore. T Swift, we don’t even deserve you.

Taylor Swift Folklore