The year that was..

Photo of The year that was.. by Pradeepa Muthukumar

I have never been one to claim a year as my own, so naturally 2020 was not going to be my year either. On Jan 1 2020, all I knew was that I wanted to have a good time at the party that I was out of my mind in, then go back to my life in Bangalore and maybe try to materialize at least some of my travel plans for the year.

And the year did start out okay though, I spent a great New Year’s weekend with friends, I went to a “GenZ-Millennial hybrid fueled rave” (that’s what I prefer to call Zomaland) at the beginning of February, attended a stranger’s church wedding in Kerala and walked around beautiful Fort Kochi during Valentine’s weekend with my best friend, I had another two of my close friends' engagement/wedding lined up for end of Feb and early March. I still lived by myself in Bangalore (like I always wanted), still had my mediocre job, my inner fort walls were intact, so all in all a pretty good start.

March rolled around and by mid of the month, I fell sick as a dog, was convinced that it was Covid, played the role of a self-proclaimed martyr to self-isolate myself from family, then later chickened out and left Bangalore to go home to eat good food and be taken care of (turns out, my 4 Covid symptoms were in fact not Covid but a nasty throat infection combined with severe dehydration).

And then, In the biggest turn of the decade, my plan to stay home for 2 weeks extended to the rest of the year and beyond and what now seems to be for the foreseeable future; something which has not happened since probably 1999.

Despite all the unbelievable shit that went down this year (“unbelievable shit” being an understatement), I cannot help but think that this may have ironically been one of the better years of my life and there are so many things I should be and am grateful for. Despite the hard times, the loss, the pain, the heartache, the frustration, the constant urge to break something, the perpetual feeling of dread, the one thing that stands out most is gratitude.

What I have been grateful for this year


I have always been and am pretty close (or close enough) with my family - my parents and brother. That is not to say that these relationships have not been strained; they've have had their fair share of struggles and been tested to the core - sometimes seeming to be at a point of no return.

However, being cooped up in complete lockdown, rather than tearing each other apart, we got along surprisingly well. Despite the shouting matches and the complete meltdowns, I realized that we are capable of love after all, and that family is everything, in every literal sense. When all is said and done, however mind-fuckingly frustrating they might be at times, they are the ones still left holding you up and the reason you probably want to live another day.


Being the introvert or the selective extrovert that I am, friendship has never come naturally to me. I am the kind of person who has the smallest group of friends, and even fewer who I am actually close with. This year, more than anything, I realized that I have greater friendships than I would have cared to think of. In retrospect, I also realized I may have been the bad friend in so many friendships without even realizing it. Friends who are there for you when you are going through a literal breakdown. Friends who realize when you only want to be listened to when you call them at odd hours and not necessarily looking for advice. Friends who you don’t speak to that often but with whom you can pick up the conversation from where you left it, however long ago you may have spoken last. Friends who take care of you when you are sick and bring you comfort food and medicine in bed. Friends who are there to drive you places and listen to your meaningless rants all along the way. The most important realization being, the strength of female friendships that I have in my life. Friends who are going through similar shitstorms as you are, at home, at work, in life. Friends who give sensible advice when you’re actually looking for it. Friends who make you feel that you are not alone. Friends that you met literally hours back, making you feel like you’ve known them longer and offering to do your hair or giving you their lipstick to try because they think it would look good on you. Basically, friends with whom you can bury dead bodies, without uttering a word to each other.


Love is overrated most of the time, or that’s the opinion I choose to hold. The few who know me, know that I like to be mildly dramatic and claim that I have fort walls around me. That way, I can continue to be blissfully unavailable emotionally and not let anything affect me. Easy solution for someone who claims to be emotionally mature, right?

The year of curve balls that this has been, the universe (or who TF I don’t know) decided that this was the decade that I finally felt this mess of a feeling (or something that closely resembles it?). I am still navigating on how best to describe it, but it is definitely a roller coaster of too many feelings which I didn’t want in the first place. Or did I actually want it deep down but then I also don’t want it now? It is frustrating for the most part and I still think I would most definitely be better off without it. I also still cringe every time I think of actually using the L word.

I think a part of me is relieved (maybe even grateful for it) that I am capable of feeling this deeply, of loving this deeply and that I did not end up a total fucked up zombie. Another part of me is also scared, very much so, of where this is all going to end or what the fuck am I going to do about this feeling which won’t go away, despite all my attempts to make it go away.


Obviously I am grateful for the life I have even though it’s not always how I want it to be (although my mildly nihilistic self doesn’t really see the point of it all?), for family, for friendship, for love, for the freedom I have experienced, for the few places that I was able to travel to, for the people I have met this year, for the safety I have felt, for the whole big list of feelings I felt despite claiming to be an unaffected know-it-all being. I even made a list of everything I felt this year because what else am I going to do on the last day of 2020 when all possible NYE plans have fallen.

All the feelings in 2020:

Gratitude, Togetherness, Anger, Resentment, Depression, Anxiety, Claustrophobia, Contentment, Nothingness, Sadness, Genuine happiness, Pain, Guilt, Love.

Realization of self

Realizing that I am more self-aware than I give myself credit for, realizing that my brain is sometimes a very tiring place to be when sometimes my own thoughts get too loud for me to handle. Recognizing that I need healthy outlets for said thoughts. Having nothing to do most of the time really gets you overthinking sometimes (or most times) and you end up making endless lists of what you need to do to take care of yourself, because who else are you left with at the end of the day if not you. So, I guess in a way I am grateful to myself for being me.

Also, for the first time ever, I am going to have a tiny list of resolutions for 2021 because your late twenties is about time to have a few of them right?

1. Continue fitness journey and never stop (you do love the rush)

2. Eat healthier (cooking is actually therapeutic)

3. Take care of mental health, go to therapy (you cannot be your own therapist)

4. Be kind to self (you're not all that bad)

5. Invest (for the love of god, please!)